The Tiny house Blog

Tiny House Insulation Types and Best Practices

Updated on:
June 9, 2023
old cabin in deep snow

One of the best things about tiny houses is energy efficiency — that’s definitely an undeniable fact. However, that’s not just a given; owners and engineers put a lot of hard work into making sure that the insulations of tiny houses perform their functions well. And among other things, that means choosing the most effective type of insulation for your particular situation. Don’t worry if you don’t know anything about this — after all, that’s precisely what we’re going to help you with!

Efficient insulation matters

Now, obviously, a tiny home is always going to be less expensive than a regular-sized one; simply due to the fact that it’s smaller compared to a normal house. Still, that doesn’t mean that a tiny house is always efficient from the standpoint of energy.

If you want to truly get your money’s worth from a tiny house and the major appliances — what you need to do is to make sure that you’ve got the best possible insulation plan for your new small household. Not only will this ensure that you’re making the least possible emissions; you will also be able to save more money than you ever thought you could!

How to approach tiny home insulation

So, if you don’t know much about the insulation of a tiny home — how do you approach this crucial issue? Well, you need to hit the right kind of balance between two crucial metrics — your thickness and your R-value. Don’t worry — we’ll explain it all. Suffice it to say that you need to maintain a stable internal climate in your household, and considering these things will definitely help with that.

One of the things that you need to keep in mind is — heat tends to rise. Considering that, you need to make sure that your insulation plan reflects that. In practice, that entails ensuring that your thickest layers of insulation must be placed on the ceiling of your home; conversely, the floor will require the thinnest layers and the walls are something in between.

Also, ensure that the proper insulation practices are made while you’re still planning the construction of your home. That’s a necessity because you want to be certain that you have enough space for the ceiling, floors, and walls — along with the considerations regarding your other subjective conditions that you need to keep in mind.

For instance — if you’re planning on a THOW — or a tiny house on wheels; that’s an entirely different beast compared to a tiny home created with a solid foundation.

Roof insulation

The first part of the insulation of your tiny home that we’ll tackle is your roof. Generally, this is one of the most flexible and forgiving parts of the tiny house because of the way that it’s structured. Mainly, this is because adding extra thickness to the roof of your tiny house does not mean that you need to sacrifice any sort of living space. Instead, you’ll be able to enjoy perfect comfort as you make the insulation thicker.

Plus, the fact that your roof is on a vertical means that you can freely use more affordable types of insulation; they’ll be just as effective as long as it’s thick. And make no mistake, the thickness is the number one metric when it comes to roof insulation; it’s what “traps” the circulating heat in your home as it begins to rise up.

This however, can be problematic for a THOW, due to the height limitations, and THOW builders trying to maximize head space in the tiny home. It’s important to take this into design consideration.

Floor Insulation

Next up, we’ve got floor insulation. This is usually crucial for the energy efficiency of heating and cooling in any home, but it’s particularly crucial for tiny homes. You don’t want the surface that your tiny home is situated on to interfere with the insulation in the flooring.

So, if you’re making a small home on wheels — you need to ensure that the insulation is perfectly fitted into the trailer’s frame. Unlike in your roof insulation, here you can’t count on having as much space to have a lot of thickness in your insulation material. Keeping that in mind — it needs to be of a sufficient degree of quality.

Insulation measurements

One of the main ways experts measure the effectiveness of insulation is the R-value. We’ve already mentioned that this is an important metric, though we haven’t talked about what it’s used for much.

This value actually provides an insight into the physics of thermal resistance in your insulation. If you have a higher R-value, that means that the insulation materials provide a better degree of thermal resistance.

When it comes to the best practices regarding insulation in tiny homes, we recommend sticking to materials that have the highest possible R-values that you can get. This is because space is an obviously scarce commodity with this kind of house; you don’t want to have something that takes up a lot of space with thickness.

Also, you should remember that R-value isn’t an ever-present constant. In reality, this value is prone to shifting as time goes on. There are plenty of factors that can contribute to the reduction of thermal resistance efficiency in your insulation; such as accumulated moisture, temperature shifts, and most importantly — age.

Picking the right insulation in terms of climate

The kind of insulation that you’ll pick doesn’t just depend on the specifics of your home. Actually, they also depend on where your tiny home is situated. In other words, the geographical location of the home and its accompanying climate are certain to play huge roles in this.

While consulting someone about your tiny home insulation in the United States, check which of the eight US climate zones you are in, and then choose the appropriate type of material for the insulation. There are different recommended R-values for each of them.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, picking the precise best kind of insulation for your tiny home isn’t always easy. On the one hand, energy efficiency is less of a problem than with regular homes; but on the other, you have less space to achieve high R-Value. Balancing these factors will be crucial to the success of your construction endeavor!

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