Last week we posted a Guide to Window Design for Tiny House RVs, which explains the visual aesthetics you should consider for your window placement and size. What about functionality? Your windows need to be beautiful but also: stable, moisture resistant and rated for your particular needs. In this article, we discuss how to choose and purchase the perfect windows for your Tiny House RV.
TINY BUILD TIP: Before ordering your windows, make sure you are ordering the ROUGH OPENING sizes and that you give yourself 6-8 weeks of lead time.
1). Decide on your Window Functionality
How do you want your windows to function vs. how much you want to spend. Picture windows (or windows that do not open) will be the cheapest option. For functioning windows, single hung are going to be the cheapest, while casement are usually the most expensive. The window brand we recommend is Jeld-wen.
The type of windows you choose is completely dependent on your preference and budget. Most Tiny House RV owners like to be consistent with their window functionality placement. For example, you might choose awning windows for you loft and casement windows for your bay windows.
Think about cross breeze, rain and ventilation. Two casement windows placed opposite each other will provide a strong cross breeze. Awning windows can be left open or cracked when it's raining. Choosing to have a variety of functioning windows, but being consistent with their placement, could benefit your overall window design.
Russ used stained glass overlay on several windows in his gypsy wagon. The overlay is etched so that it has the texture of real stained glass.
Special shaped windows, custom sizes and grids will cost you extra. We do not recommend stained glass windows for those traveling with their Tiny House RV because they tend to be fragile, expensive, single pane and not compatible with tempered glass. Instead, try stained glass overlay or window film.
2). Moisture Resistance Ability
In a tiny space, moisture can be problematic. Not all windows are created equal when it comes to moisture resistance. Aluminum windows are inexpensive, but they are prone to condensation. Vinyl windows are the most resistant to moisture, but they are generally not as visually stunning.
We recommend aluminum clad windows because they are beautiful, long lasting and a good middle ground for moisture resistance. You still may need to do some maintenance to ensure moisture does not become a problem (this can be the case will all windows in Tiny House RVs). Aluminum clad windows are more expensive than other windows, but replacing an inadequate window can be time consuming and expensive as well.
3). Insulation Value
We do NOT recommend single pane windows to be used in Tiny House RVs. In most cases low-e double pane windows will be enough of an insulator for your windows, but in extreme weather destinations (such as Alaska), triple pane is worth the extra cost.
4). Tempered glass
Any structure that is traveling down the road should have tempered glass windows. We also recommend shutters (or a protective piece of plywood) be attached on the windows on the tongue side of your trailer.
5). Altitude Rating
Similar to when you ears pop due to change of air pressure, windows are sensitive to changes in elevations. If you do NOT plan on moving your Tiny House RV, you can purchase windows that are rated for the altitude in which you are located.
If you plan on traveling with your Tiny House RV, we recommend purchasing high altitude windows. If you do NOT choose high altitude windows, and you travel to a high elevation, you are risking seal breakage from the pressure difference. If this happens, your windows will fog and collect moisture between panes, and you will need to replace them.
At Tumbleweed, we outfit all of our fully built Tiny House RVs with high altitude windows because they are built in our workshop in Colorado Springs, at 6,000 feet.
Save money with reclaimed windows!
Aside from your trailer, windows will be the most expensive purchase for your Tiny House RV. Sourcing reclaimed windows is a great money saving option, but we caution you to consider all of the above variables. If you're interested in reclaimed windows, check Habitat for Humanity or ask for materials being thrown away at a local construction site.
Deek Deirdrickson explains the benefit of working with reclaimed windows:
Jenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about Tiny Homes and their adventure. Follow their informative blog.