The Tiny house Blog

How to Design your Tiny House Exterior

Updated on:
June 9, 2023
Tiny House with slanted roof in green pasture

Tiny Homes on Wheels brought a whole new meaning to curb appeal. You couldn’t even start counting the number of double-takes and dropped jaws you get on the freeway. In many cases, we’ve even had people follow us till we stopped somewhere just so they can get a better picture!

According to Supreme Finishes a company that offers painting and decorating services, small houses are becoming a trend and to others a lifestyle choice that is very cool. Luckily, there are several exciting tiny house exterior designs one can try out, these include the Danish Tiny House Design, Minimalist Japanese Tiny House and, Brilliant Tiny House from Brisbane, etc.

One of the appeals of living in a tiny home is the ability to afford the home design of your dreams.  We know people likely have a lot of questions when you tell them you live in a tiny home, and you’re suddenly labeled “One of Those Tiny Home People”. What could be better than showing them a picture of just the exterior and blow their mind with how great it looks?

With that said, here are a couple of pointers of how to create the exterior you’re looking for!

Consider Your Window Placement

Plan the interior with the exterior in mind - Window placement is largely determined by the interior floor plan. So if you don’t think ahead of how this could affect your exterior, your tiny house may end up looking disproportionate.

What you need to consider when designing your exterior is the sizes and placement of windows, your roof, siding type, and stain or paint colors. The overall aesthetic you’re going for will be your guide as you balance out all these variables to come to an exterior design that fits just right.

We’d heavily suggest doing research regarding painting your windows. We are huge fans, as we think this garnishing touch can make a big difference. But make sure you understand the implications of warping, etc. because of the extra heat exposure. If you are considering painting your window frames yourself, reach out to us, as we believe we’ve found the most effective way.

Get creative with your windows! Some of our favorite exteriors are ones that have black painted windows or triangle windows or arch windows.

What type of siding is best?

Exterior Siding and Cladding makes a huge impact both from a longevity and maintenance standpoint and how your home looks. Here’s the list below of our favorites.

Real Wood Siding

Of course one of the most common siding types for tiny homes is Cedar. It is extremely weather-resistant, lightweight and looks great both painted and stained. Depending on what look you’re going for you can choose from the following profiles.


Shiplap (raise your hand if you’re a Fixer Upper Fan!)

Board and Batten


Vinyl Siding

Decently priced with a good weight and resistant to weather makes vinyl a decent option. However, we’ve found that it can be damaged relatively easily with scratches and dings. Along with that, you need to make sure you get a high wind-resistant siding or installation method.

Metal Siding

There are a lot of different shapes of metal, but here are the main types.

-Standing seam is the cleanest looking metal siding, but definitely extremely hard to install(the taller the standing seam, the harder it is to install.) I would not suggest Standing seam unless you consider yourself a metal and waterproofing expert. However, if you do want to attempt taking this on, we'd suggest getting expert counsel or scheduling an appointment with us. We’ve installed standing seam siding on houses many times and know where the trouble points are and hot to properly flash the key areas.

-Corrugated. This is a very standard siding type on outbuildings. If done right, it can add a wonderful pop.

Hardie Cement Board Siding

Great siding for permanently fixed homes or manufactured homes that don’t move often but it’s way too heavy for THOWs, and generally pretty expensive.

And last but not least….

LP Smartside Siding

Honestly, I wouldn’t blame you if you were laughing at us right now given their past history. But they’ve made a huge turnaround and make a product worth serious consideration now. You HAVE to check this stuff out. It’s so amazing, we’d suggest it for every single one of our builds.

Their patented engineered designs come with four components of protection. This process adds strength and helps their products withstand impacts, freeze/thaw cycles, high humidity, fungal decay, and termites.

Warrantied for Hail damage caused by hail up to 1.75 inches in diameter, fungal degradation, buckling, cracking, chipping, peeling and other rupturing of the resin-saturated surface. Backed by their 5/50 year warranty. To put it into perspective, this is twice as long as the classic James Hardie cement fiber sidings warranty is!

Plus they have a very sleek smooth finish which looks absolutely incredible.

They even have a pre-painted option as well, with the top trending 2020 colors.

Is it best to Stain or Paint by house?

Obviously, if you don’t have a real wood siding, you most likely won’t be staining it so a nice paint and color that suits your personal taste is your best option.

Staining your real wood siding is a great way to keep that natural look and can be done to both look modern or craftsman. Staining does take a little more upkeep so make sure to use a top-notch stain like this. Make sure you follow their directions!

You could mix and match paint and stain but be careful to not overdo it. This could easily look tacky if not done right.

To Trim or Not to Trim?

What is an exterior trim? A 'trim' refers to an exterior building’s finish materials, including moldings (window or door trim), exterior doors, siding, attic vents, shutters, and crawl space vents. Exterior trims, like belly bands, are usually used as a visual separation in apartments and large homes.

Some places require a trim board to be fully waterproof, but for the most part, it’s 100% preference. We’d generally suggest no(or less) trim on a modern build, and more trim on a craftsman style home.

Some questions to decide where you want your trim:

  • around windows and doors?
  • corners?
  • belly Band / to split siding types?

Installing trim around windows and doors covers the gaps between the wall and the frame. Trims and molds cover unsightly intersections and ragged, unfinished drywall edges around window and door jambs. Moreover, their casing creates a highly visible perimeter that blends with your home’s architectural style. Therefore, you can expect a more elegant finish. 

On the other hand, you can install trims to the wall’s external corners. You can find trims that are easy to cut and fix, ensuring a neat cladding finish. Choose a timber brand that’s rot and termite resistant. You can also choose one that matches other exterior boards. 

In addition, empty exterior ceilings expose wires, beams, and tubes. Hence, installing a trim board is advisable, which runs along the top of the house’s exterior wall, forming a corner with the soffit. You can check out trim and soffit installation services, such as Hardie Boys, to determine the best option for your property.

What type of front door is best?

Essentially, your exterior should funnel focus to your front door. There is nothing more strange than when a front door looks like an afterthought, or it’s just hidden/lost in the exterior. You want your front door to stand out, feel welcoming and/or make a statement.

If possible, coverings help with this along with great placement of exterior light fixtures. A big factor is the type of door you choose, and what color it is.

Consider the Your Roofing Material

Many people often don’t consider their rooflines in relation to the exterior curb appeal. But the roofline can have one of the biggest impacts on your exterior.

You can go from as crazy as a unique butterfly roofline to a more typical gable end. Dormers add a lot of extra height in the loft but depending on your design there are other ways to accomplish this to keep a more modern aesthetic.

Your roofline has an impact on the inside of your home so make sure to take that into consideration and that you have adequate support for your roof structure!

The type of roofing plays a big part in the way your exterior looks as well

Metal Roofing

This is the best roof option for Tiny Homes on Wheels due to its dynamic look while being almost maintenance-free. Plus, it's longevity is second to none typically having a 50 year warranty.

It can come in a few different styles including standing seam, corrugated or the like. And of course, it can either be finished with a manufacture painted finish or left galvanized.

Asphalt Shingles

The most standard roofing, but there are still a lot of color options! If you use this on a tiny home on wheels, make sure to silicone the bottom edge of each asphalt shingle to keep it from flapping and blowing off!

Tile or Slate

It could be a great option for the right cabin, ADU or guest house but we wouldn't recommend this on a tiny home on wheels due to it's weight and how fragile it is.

A Unique Tiny Home Exterior Design

As you have probably gathered, when it comes to the exterior of your tiny home, you can make it as unique as you are! There are so many options to choose from but if you stick with the core products, installation methods and styles while still adding your own unique design you'll be a happy camper! Make sure you hop over to our gallery to get a little inspiration!

Live more, live tiny!

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