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:
Today we are going to discuss three design elements you should consider for the windows in your Tiny House RV: PROPORTION, BALANCE and SYMMETRY.
Proper PROPORTION can make all the difference
Consider the photo above of a Tumbleweed Cypress. The windows are in correct proportion to each other, the size of the structure, and the front door. It's pleasing to the eye.
As you can see, we've now changed the proportion of the windows. The result is less pleasant.
The front bay windows are very small and odd looking. The side windows are large, creating improper proportion to the front door and the overall structure. Making your windows too large can also compromise the structural integrity of the RV and decrease your R-Value.
Create BALANCE in your Window Design
It's important to be consistent with proportion, the amount of windows and their symmetry to create balance in your window design.
Windows attract the eye, so it's important to distribute them evenly. In the above example, the balance of window versus open space is inconsistent. You don't want to have five windows on the left side of your Tumbleweed and only two windows on the right side.
Can you guess why the next example is NOT as well balanced as the original?
The bay windows are centered in the above photo, yet the effect is not quite as charming as the original Tumbleweed Cypress. Why? It has to do with the front door. The front door in this design has a window, so it should be counted in the overall window design. The bay windows have too much open space on either side in comparison to the space around the door window. Therefore, the balance is imperfect.
Don't Forget Symmetry!
To achieve symmetry in your window design, draw an imaginary line down the center axis of your Tiny House RV. As you can see in the above photo of a Tumbleweed Elm, the windows on either side of the center line are a mirror image of each other. The windows are completely symmetrical.
"You can also have a near or approximate symmetry in your design. Here there is no mirror image, but the masses placed on one side of the axis are roughly copied on the other side. There may be side extension that is different than its cousin on the other side, but they are of similar shape and size."Source
The Tumbleweed Cypress is an example of approximate symmetry. In order to counteract the asymmetry of the door placement, a hip dormer is centered over the bay windows. Therefore, the window design is not a mirror image along the center axis, but the visual weight is counterbalanced by the doorway and dormer symmetry.
Next we'll discuss window functionality, specifically for Tiny House RVs!
John Ericson and his wife, Linda, spend six months of the year traveling around the world. How do they do it? They travel in style with their incredible homemade house truck!
John and Linda have built twelve homemade campers in the last 35 years, each time improving on the design and functionality. Currently they use a renovated bus for temporary living in Alaska and a wooden house truck for adventuring around the world.
John & Linda's Renovated Bus based in Alaska
John & Linda's House Truck
Built on the chassis of a Mitsubishi, Fuso, the Ericson's house truck features a spacious kitchenette with an apartment size propane refrigerator, sleeping space for three and a propane heater. The house truck is outfitted with a small RV toilet. For showering, they have an innovative outdoor shower setup.
John and Linda's house truck has an impressive amount of storage for such a tiny space!
"We can go about a month without grocery shopping," John explained while showcasing the many hidden compartments in his homemade camper. Linda labels everything and plans their meals in a systematic fashion. Organization is so important in Tiny House RVs!
Other features of the Ericson's house truck include: a fresh water tank and solar power. The couple enjoys the flexibility of their off-grid camper. They can adventure anywhere, without the need to plug-in or stay at expensive campgrounds!
Wooden awnings flip out over the windows for shade, while two skylights offer plenty of natural light indoors. The dutch-style front door is a creative touch and allows for proper airflow in the warmer seasons.
“I just try to keep moving for as long as I can.”
– John Ericson
Where has their house truck taken them?
The Ericsons have driven over 133,000 miles in their homemade house truck in the past five years, and most of the time, Linda likes the drive. Recent road trips include: Baja, Mexico, South America and Russia.
Wes Sekeres enjoys small spaces but found it challenging to design a Tiny House RV for his tall frame - 6'4." He, like many others, was initially worried about feeling claustrophobic or cramped in less than 250 square feet.
"It was a necessity for me that the bathroom FEEL big; that the kitchen FEEL big; that the living area FEEL big." - Wes Sekeres
In order to achieve his open and spacious design, Wes decided to build his tiny sanctuary on Tumbleweed's new Low-Wider trailer, which maximizes height and width by building around the wheel wells.
Wes's Tiny House RV features white walls and a simple shed roof
Wes noted that attending last year's Tiny House Jamboree was really helpful in his design process. At the event, he was able to tour multiple designs, speak with builders and ask questions.
He recalls discussing his plans with Tumbleweed workshop host, Mario Soto and other Tumbleweed employees at the Jamboree. "I wanted to consider everything," Wes explains."They were very helpful."
Wes's stunning kitchen features a full size refrigerator, full-range stove and gorgeous royal blue countertops
"I love that other people love it! I'm big on hospitality, so it's nice to have a Tiny House RV that others find unique and exciting." - Wes Sekeres
One item that Wes really wanted in his design was a tile bathroom. Many Tiny House RV owners shy away from tile due to weight, expense and durability on the road. This is also why drywall is not recommended for many Tiny House RV designs. That being said, can you have tile and/or drywall in your Tiny House RV? Of course! Wes researched a variety of products and chose a tile that is extra durable and lighter than many others on the market.
Wes has subway tile on the back wall of his tiny bathroom and his entire shower. His contemporary interior design gives his Tiny House RV a "big city" feel.
"My Tiny House RV is a perfect blend of two things I really love: a simple life and custom carpentry." - Wes Sekeres
To learn more about Tumbleweed's Low-Wider trailer, and other trailer designs, click here
We want to make owning a Tiny House RV easy for our customers, so if you're ready to own a Tumbleweed but you're struggling to accomplish your goal, we've created a list of resolutions that will help you "Go Tiny" by the end of 2017!
Choose several of the resolutions listed below and cross them off one at a time. Try adapting resolutions into your daily routine. Happy New Year!
Downsize your belongings. Get rid of one unnecessary possession a day. Here's a trick - go through your closet and sort your clothes by the items you wear: daily, weekly, monthly and the clothes you haven't worn in years. Slowly remove the items you use infrequently and/or have no emotional attachment. DO NOT replace items with new clothing until they are stained, torn or they no longer fit. By the end of the year, your wardrobe will only include items you use and love. Photo credit: Embrace Minimalism
Reduce your footprint. Work on using less and wasting less. Conserve your water usage by turning off the faucet while lathering up in the shower. Practice using less electricity by shutting off lights, replacing regular bulbs with LEDs, and only running appliances (such as the dishwasher and washing machine) when they are absolutely full. Read up on solar and wind power. Try composting! There are many ways you can begin transitioning toward an eco-friendly lifestyle before you ever own a Tiny House RV!
Reduce your debt. Many Tiny House RV owners value financial freedom. Sell your unwanted belongings that are worth something (such as furniture, jewelry, collectables and electronics). Place the money you earn into a savings account or pay off your loans/credit cards. *Bonus, resolutions #1 & #2 you will also save you money!*
Research insurance and financing. There are more and more insurance and loan companies that are backing Tiny House RVs. "Fy Nyth" Tumbleweed Cypress parked in Wyoming
Plan your parking spot. If you want to own a Tiny House RV by the end of the year, you'll want to secure the perfect parking spot. Begin by learning about your county's RV parking codes and/or research traveling with a Tiny House RV. Tour various campgrounds that could serve as a potential permanent parking spot. Ask around on various online communities or post an advert on Craigslist.
Gather tools. If you're going to build your own Tiny House RV, you'll need the proper tools. Ask your friends if you can borrow tools or explore resale shops and garage sales for deals. Check out this tool sharing website to see if there is a tool library near you.
Gather materials. Whether you find the perfect reclaimed windows, space saving kitchen gadget or discounted appliance, you will save time and money on your future Tiny House RV by securing your materials in advance. Also read up on securing sponsors for your project.
Secure a build site. If you're interested in building your own Tiny House RV,this resolution will be at the top of your list! Find the ideal place for construction, with with storage for your materials and adequate access to electricity, by advertising online and asking around in your local tiny house community. Tap into the community by attending a local workshop, joining local meetups and facebook groups. Tumbleweed Colorado Springs showroom. Photo credit.
Experience the lifestyle. If you're concerned that "Going Tiny" may not be for you, it might be beneficial to actually stay the night in a Tiny House RV! By physically experiencing the lifestyle, you'll prepare yourself mentally for ownership and you might even get a few great space saving ideas. Check out more vacation rental listings here and here. You can also make an appointment to tour a Tumbleweed at our Colorado Springs showroom.