Monday, January 17, 2011

New Suit of Clothes

I have been working on my garage, and other projects in my "big house", so haven't found time for the tiny house recently. Although this is not really progress on the tiny house per se, it is progress. I have had trouble finding a durable tarp solution for the interim, but I think I've found a solution. I bought two 14' x 48' recycled billboards, and have used them as temporary cladding for my tiny house until I have time to get to the next phase of construction. One billboard reads "Isn't she a little young? Sex with minors, don't go there" and the other reads "The sign you want, the agent you need,". I find the first to be inappropriate, if not downright funny, as garb for a tiny house, and the second has interesting color combinations and patterns (shrubbery and sky) for use in other projects. After painting over the bits of the "Sex with minors, don't go there" billboard (the part that would be visible from the street), I used it to cover the sides of the tiny house. I was fortunate to score some mis-tint paint from Sherwin Williams, their best exterior paint for only $5 a gallon (normally $45 a gallon). The color is actually pretty nice (see final photo). I will use half of the Remax billboard to cover the roof, and use the other half for whatever projects come to mind. The shrubbery and sky in the billboard would make for great pillows on an outdoor bench or chair, and I have an outdoor two-seater frame that I bought at a yard sale which needs just such a set of pillows. 

The tiny frame, naked for the first time in almost a year:

The top of the tiny house and the Santa Catalina Mountains from my roof:

I don't have enough space on my property to lay out a full 48' by 14' billboard, so I used my roof to do the painting and cutting. At the bottom is the freshly painted section of the "Sex with minors, don't go there" billboard, and above is the Remax billboard (the bottom is a white picket fence). That light blue wedge  near the top is my tiny house with its old tattered garb, prior to the new duds.  

 This is the end of the tiny house covered with the painted billboard section, as seen from the street.

The billboards are actually quite a lot of work to handle, they weigh 75 or 80 lbs each, and are very unwieldy when unfurled. My fingertips always feel abused after handling them, even with gloves. But the material is supposed to be a few times thicker than the best available alternative at a hardware or surplus store, and they are coated for UV protection. They are also a lot cheaper by the square foot, even with the hefty shipping cost. I am hoping that with a bit of high quality exterior paint, these will last many times longer than the other tarps I have used, all of which have failed within three to four months under the brutal sun of the Sonoran Desert. We are in the season of the winter Monsoon, so rain is also of concern this time of year. We shall see how these hold up!


  1. brilliant idea! How are they holding up so far? We are about to begin a tiny house project up in Phoenix, would you be willing to let us visit and see how yours is coming along?

  2. Hello Sean-Michael!

    Of course, I would be happy to show you my tiny house, although it is still quite "half-baked" at this point. The billboard material is holding up very well. There are a few small holes at corners and areas where something protrudes from inside, but generally speaking, they are so much more durable than any other tarp solution I have tried so far. They are a little hard to work with because of size and weight, but quite worth it in terms of long-term durability. Nothing else I tried lasted more than a few months.

    Basically, I was totally on track to move into my tiny house, but then I got married... My wife came with a pet rabbit, Thistle, and we also have three dogs, Django, Elsie, and Sweet Pea. Keeping the predators and prey animals apart has proven too much for a tiny house to deal with, so I've been brainstorming for how to use my tiny house (still a shell at this point) in an efficient and productive way. It is serving as much-needed storage at this point, but I hope to make it a more active part of my daily life in the near future.

    What are your plans for a tiny house? Have you found a design, and/or location?


    --Rando Para