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Community and Q&A

Tiny Home trailer – Steel frame? Insulation?

Zovc | Posted in General Questions on


Things are kind of up in the air for me right now, but if I’m going to be staying in the US, I plan to purchase a trailer and build a tiny home on it. I’m trying to do my due diligence and make sure I have a sensible and thorough plan before committing to a project (and purchase) like that, though.

I found this forum searching for info on steel frames, since I’ve heard a lot of tiny home owners say they chose it for “durability and weight.” Having a stronger structure to survive the road sounds great, and having a lighter structure to save energy when moving also sounds great. So, I figured I should look into it!

Particularly, I found this thread:

There was a lot of interesting conversation, but that also took place years ago. I was wondering if any perspectives or have changed, or if new science/data has come out that shifts the discussion!

So, the pertinent question to me is: “Is a steel frame a good choice for a tiny home trailer that would be a long-term home?”

But, I’d also be interested in hearing up-to-date scoops on steel frames supposedly being worse for humidity/mold? I’m not sure I understand how or why steel would be as much worse for insulating a structure than a traditional wooden frame–would that be the case in a tiny home? Space is at a premium, so dedicating as little space/square footage to insulation as possible would be desirable.

I am also kind of at sea on figuring out the ideal way to insulate a tiny house. Most folks seemed to be suggesting ‘external’ insulation, but that seems like it could be sketchy on a trailer–how is it affixed?

I did also do some cursory looking into Structurally Insulated Panels(?), and my understanding was that cutting them compromised their integrity both structurally and in terms of insulation–is that correct? Can they be a suitable structure for a tiny home trailer?

(I’m envisioning a ~20-24ft trailer, the structure being ~10.5ft inside. Trailer beds are typically ~18″ off of the ground, and I’m trying to be conservative with vertical height to stay under the 13.5ft legal limit.)

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    This question has come up on the Q&A forum at least 4 times before. I suggest that you read the previous 4 threads on the topic, and then post any follow-up questions here after you have read the earlier threads. Here are the links:

    "Tiny Home subfloor, proper layers for long lasting system"

    "Moisture management for tiny house subfloor?"

    "Tiny house subfloor insulation and moisture management"

    "Floor insulation for a tiny house on wheels"

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