Paint can be toxic, especially in a tiny space. It is very important to choose your paints carefully, otherwise you could be admitting dangerous chemicals into your Tiny House RV. For this article, I interviewed Matthew Connors: tiny house dweller, dad, off-grid homesteader and house painter!
The story of Matthew Connors, non-toxic painter
Matthew Connors owns New Leaf Professional Painting and specializes in non-toxic and earth based paint services. He also lives in a 450 square foot off-grid tiny home with his wife and two kids in New Hampshire.
Matthew's decision to turn over a new leaf in the painting world was made when his daughter ran to hug him one day after work.
"I urged (my daughter) to not touch me until I showered and changed my clothes. I realized that was unhealthy for her and myself on many levels." - Matthew
Matthew now only accepts clients who are willing to work with non-toxic paints. He chooses to do this not only for his own health, but also for the health and safety of his family, clients, and for those who come after us. Read on for the full interview.
Why is it important to pay attention to paints?
Matthew: I feel it is important to pay attention to not only paint, but any chemicals and materials. Many modern (I venture to say most) building materials, paints, cleaners etc. contain toxic chemicals. Buildings are closed spaces and we inhale fumes from chemicals as they evaporate, be it paint or household cleaners, or plywood. The smaller the space, the more concentrated the fumes and exposure increases.
The main issue with interior latex paint is not with the paint itself, but with the fumes released by the paint as it is drying and over time. The fumes are made of organic compounds, or VOCs, which are gases like benzene, formaldehyde and toluene. The actual gases depend on the formula of the paint. Generally, the more heavily tinted and glossy the paint, the more VOCs are released.
VOCs, especially formaldehyde, are blamed for causing headaches, nausea, fatigue and irritations of the eyes, nose and throat. The misconception many people have is that once the paint is dried and you can no longer smell it, then the danger is gone, which is false. These chemicals can be released for years, long after the paint is dry, and you will continue to inhale the toxins which have been associated to numerous health issues which include cancer and asthma.
And keep in mind that just because a paint says that it has low or even zero VOC's, that does not mean that it is non-toxic. Not all VOCs are the same. There is a large amount of research and scientific evidence to support the idea that there is a significant distinction, in terms of health impacts, between naturally occurring VOCs such as orange oil, and synthetic VOCs. Even without VOC's many paints still contain harmful biocides and fungicides.
Matthew's 14X16' tiny cabin is painted with non-toxic paints
What should be considered when choosing paint?
Matthew: First and foremost ask yourself: "Why am I painting?" Is it to protect a material such as wood or metal; is it simply to add some color; or is it because we have been told that paint is the best way to finish a house. The products chosen should match the reason for the paint, oil, sealer, etc. Sometimes paint is not necessary at all, or can lead to more problems down the road if not applied correctly.
Matthew's off-grid homestead
What do you usually suggest for interior paint for tiny spaces? Do you have specific brands or labels?
Matthew: I recommend the same types of paint and finishes for all houses, big or small, with the exception of houses on wheels. For portable houses, non-brittle finishes such as washes and oils hold up better to the flex and movement. For all others, my first choice will always be a naturally derived product. I try to avoid latex paints whenever possible as they are, at their core, plastics derived from petroleum, even though they are generally accepted as non-toxic. I'll reiterate that I do not care what isn't in the paint, but rather what is in it.
I look to naturally derived plant and earth based paints first. They tend to vary with ingredients, but typically contain things like flax(linseed) or other plant oils, casein (a milk product), clay (for beautiful colors), lime, flour. These ingredients are ones that we humans can understand, and can even mix ourselves!
Some brands that I trust are: The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Co. (they are local to me to boot), Bio-shield, Green Planet Paints, & Unearthed Paints.
* If you would like to book a consultation with Matthew, contact him at New Leaf Painting
As many of you know, I built my own Tiny House RV and I wouldn't have it any other way! Below I've listed 8 reasons you should BUILD OVER BUY. But don't worry, if you aren't up for the construction challenge, click here to read 8 reasons you should BUY OVER BUILD.
8 reasons to BUILD INSTEAD OF BUY:
1). You have construction experience
No brainer. If you know your way around the tool shed, building your own Tiny House RV should be relatively easy. For an expert builder, we advise that a build will take 400-600 work hours.
You can also take a workshop to learn the skills to build your own tiny. I took one prior to building my tiny, and now I teach them!
2). You have a great build location
The ideal build site is covered, with ample storage for materials and access to electricity for power tools. If you have the perfect build location, give yourself a pat on the back! You will be the envy of many tiny enthusiasts.
3). You have a budget & savings
One of the biggest hurdles for any tiny house enthusiast is creating a realistic budget. How you will pay for the materials, tools, etc? Financing is not usually an option for DIY Tiny House RV builds, so you may need to get creative. For example, you can save money by gathering reclaimed/free items.
If you already have a budget and enough savings to build, what are you waiting for?? Go for it!
4). You have a support team
I had a bunch of volunteers help on my Tiny House RV. So if you have a support team, for physical labor and mental inspiration, it might be enough to get you through the challenge.
5). You want the knowledge
I love the fact that I built my own Tiny House RV. I know it isn't perfect, but I've also learned to love my tiny's faults. Has it always been your goal to build something yourself? A Tiny House RV is the perfect project for you!
6). You want to save money on labor
Arguably the most important reason to build your own Tiny House RV - to save money! Labor can cost almost (if not more) than materials. If you do the work yourself, you can save BIG on the overall cost.
7). You don't care about being RVIA certified
It is not possible to be RVIA certified as a DIY builder (only a manufacturer, like Tumbleweed, can get this certification). If this certification doesn't matter to you, then perhaps building your tiny is the better choice.
8). You want to fulfill your dream
If it has been your dream to build a Tiny House RV for many years, and you are determined, don't let anything (including the above) stand in your way!
Are you confused as to whether you should BUY or BUILD your future Tiny House RV? Don't worry, you're not alone. I host Tumbleweed build workshops, and I see a lot of eager individuals start a construction project and never finish. Depending on your situation, building your own tiny dream house might not be the most economical or practical option.
Below I’ve listed several reasons to BUY INSTEAD OF BUILD. I encourage you to review and decide for yourself. For the alternative point of view, read this article for reasons you should BUILD INSTEAD OF BUY.
1). You don’t have enough time
I built my own Tiny House RV without any prior construction experience, and It took me one whole year. For a Tumbleweed design we estimate the following for total work hours based on your experience level:
Example scenario: John is a beginner builder with weekends available for his construction project. He can build year round, without weather delays, because he has a covered build site. If John is able to work eight hours a day on Saturday and Sunday (16 hours a weekend) it will take him 62.5 weekends to complete his build. Most likely John will need 1.5 years to construct his Tiny House RV.
Inside the Tumbleweed build facility
If you purchase a fully built Tiny House RV from Tumbleweed, you can have it delivered within a few months. That is a big time difference! So if you don't have enough time to build, consider purchasing a fully built model or half built shell.
2). You don’t have a build site
Where will you build your Tiny House RV? Ideally you will have a large covered location, with ample electricity and storage for your materials. Finding the perfect built site is easier said than done. If you don't have an ideal build location, expect challenges and delays in construction.
Inside the Tumbleweed build facility
3). You don’t have the tools
Tools are an expensive investment. You can purchase used tools, rent tools or find a tool sharing build site. Be careful not to blow your budget on tools.
4). You want to finance the costs
DIY Tiny House RV build projects are difficult to finance. If you don’t have enough money saved up, you run the risk of going into credit card debt or putting your build on hold. I’ve seen many builds never reach completion due to this problem. So if you want to finance your Tiny House RV, go ahead and buy one - there are more financing options.
5). You want an RVIA certified Tiny House RV
If you build your own Tiny House RV it will not be RVIA certified. Not having the RVIA certification can limit your financing, insurance, DMV registration and future parking options. More on the RVIA here.
Tumbleweed is one of the few RVIA certified Tiny House RV builders in the country. If you purchase a fully built tiny from Tumbleweed, it will be RVIA certified.
6). You don't have the passion
I know this sounds silly, but building a Tiny House RV is a huge commitment. I’ve seen projects fail because the individuals became bored or frustrated. Make sure your passion won't fade.
7). You lack the physical ability
Skills can be learned, but physical labor is still physical labor. I've seen a handicapped builder finish a beautiful Tiny House RV, but the strain of construction is not for everyone. Before you decided to build, make sure you are physically capable of completing the project.
8). You haven’t done your research.
Building a Tiny House RV is not the same as building a regular home. The structure has to be road worthy, vented correctly, capable of withstanding extreme winds and many other unique practices. It’s a specialized type of construction. These skills can be learned, but it takes research.
Tumbleweed has been building Tiny House RVs for over 15 years. They have a specialized team and a proven road worthy product. If you don't believe you can build a structurally sound Tiny House RV, purchase one instead.
Over the past few years, we've had a plethora of customer requests for a new Tumbleweed model. Our design team has been hard at work, imagining and drafting fresh designs while maintaining the quality and nostalgia of the Tumbleweed brand. Today we're excited to announce NOT ONE BUT TWO new Tumbleweed Tiny House RV designs: the Farallon and the Roanoke!
Introducing the "Farallon"
Synthesizing modern aesthetics and traditional farmhouse form with a rich palette of materials, the "Farallon" is designed for the Tumbleweed Low-Wider trailer, expanding interior living space by building lower and wider than ever before!
Inside, the open living floor plan combines kitchen and living space under ten foot tall ceilings. The downstairs bedroom acts as the mini master suite, with a wall of clothing storage and adjoining bathroom.
One of our most common requests is for a downstairs sleeping option. Our new designs meet that need.
The Farallon also features a second sleeping space in the form of a large sleeping loft. Owners can choose to sleep in the loft while using the downstairs bedroom as “flex space”—a home office, walk-in closet, or kids’ bedroom.
Drum roll please...
We will be displaying the Farallon at this year's Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado Springs, Colorado, August 5-7th! Be one of the first ever to tour this innovative Tiny House RV design by attending the event.
*For more photos and information on the Farallon, click here.
Introducing the "Roanoke"
The "Roanoke" design has a contemporary aesthetic with a beautiful shed roof line, allowing for even more interior vertical space.
*For more photos and information on the Roanoke design, click here.
Both the Farallon and Roanoke are available to order as fully built Tumbleweed Tiny House RVs. In the future, we hope to have these models available as Barn Raisers and building plans for our DIY customers.
To get a quote and/or to talk to one of our Tiny House Specialists about purchasing a Farallon or Roanoke, visit our online Tiny House RV customizer
We hope you enjoyed viewing our two new designs: the Farallon and Roanoke! Please share and tell us what you think in the comments!
The 2016 Tiny House Jamboree is this weekend, and we are so excited! The first ever Jamboree was last year, and the interest was spectacular. Over 40,000 people attended from all 50 states and 10 different countries to listen to knowledgable speakers and tour dozens of Tiny House RVs!
Video of 2015 Tiny House Jamboree. Courtesy of THJ
Last year we displayed THREE Tumbleweed Tiny House RVs for attendees to tour at the Jamboree. This year we have a few BIG surprises up our sleeves!
Check back Friday for a blog post with a BIG announcement and details!
If that's not enough Steve Weissmann, the president of Tumbleweed, is speaking at the 2016 Jamboree from 4:30-5pm on Sunday, August 7th. His speech will be on the emerging tiny house industry, while highlighting the topics of: coding, zoning, and quality control from the builder perspective.
Tumbleweed is also sponsoring keynote speaker Guillaume Dutilh's talk on traveling with a Tiny House RV. Guillaume will speak on Friday, August 5th, from 2-3pm. His talk will include: how to design your tiny for travel, where to park it, what to do, what not to do and more!
But that's not all!Did you know that BEHR is giving away a custom Tumbleweed Cypress as part of their “Dream Tiny” sweepstakes, along with $25,000 to one lucky individual? The BEHR "Dream Tiny" Tumbleweed will be displayed at the 2016 Tiny House Jamboree and attendees will be among the first to see it! Learn more about the BEHR sweepstakes here.