Raise The Roof On Your Tiny House

Choosing the correct roofing for a sticks ‘n bricks typically involves going to one of the big box stores, picking out a great asphalt shingle you like, maybe making a few color choices, and then having them installed. Installation is fairly straightforward too in that you throw down some felt paper, maybe chalk some lines, put on a shingle, bang * bang…nail them on, and repeat! But at 200lbs. – 350lbs. a square (100 square feet) and about $25/30 per bundle (or $75/90 per square), they aren’t always the best deal or the easiest to install. Not to mention most architectural shingles are only rated up to 130mph winds. The point is, as with everything, what you may do for a sticks ‘n bricks you may not want to do on your tiny house. So then what? How do you raise the roof on your tiny house. So glad you asked!

Let’s look at the options. If you want a historical reproduction house you could go with thatching. One run in with a big, bad wolf and your whole house would blow right down, including the roof. Not to mention they are not exactly fire resistant. You could go with cedar shakes or shingles but they are incredibly expensive and require just less care than a toddler does. They have to be maintained regularly to prevent prevent moss, mold and mildew growth.


Then there is tar. You could put tar on your roof but besides turning your tiny house into a rolling hot box or causing third degree burns during installation, the weight alone makes it an undesirable material. Shingles, we talked about. So why not metal roofing? After all, doesn’t a tiny house have to have metal roofing in order to be called a “tiny house”? After having lived with metal roofing for several years I decided in the future I wouldn’t do it again. While metal roofing is wildly popular now and available in a number of colors and even crimp patterns, as well as being durable and highly wind resistant, it is pretty expensive, has to be protected from corrosion, and can be quite difficult to install DIY. In fact, we hired the pros to install our roofing!

Tiny r(E)v Roofing

Now that we are anchored down on a small farmstead we are preparing to build a small barn to house our tools, feed, scrap wood, etc. It is truly our first building since the tiny house and I am all too often reminded of the decision that have to be made. One is roofing and living in eastern North Carolina we have to be aware of the conditions a roof can face. I initially thought metal but then I remember seeing a demonstration of a material at one of Deek Diedriksen’s workshops give by Roy St. Clair, a Sr. Sales Manager at Onduline North America, Inc. The demonstration was for a roofing product called ONDUVILLA 3D Shingles. Made with at least 50% recycled fibers (paper, cardboard and fast food receipts) and impregnated with asphalt, the shingles are lighter than the competition, more affordable, and just as durable. In fact, the shingles are rated at 150mph winds!

Tiny House Roofs

What I find to be most attractive about ONDUVILLA (other than the look of them altogether) is that they can be installed (or applied, you could say) by the average DIY person. In a post on tiny-house-roof.com Jasmin McLean, a tiny house owner, said, “The best part? Despite having “zero construction experience, the only tools you really need are a ladder, chalk line, box cutter, measuring tape and drill. Anyone can install this roof.” According to sources ONDUVILLA installation requires you to snap a horizontal chalk line on top of your membrane to place the first row of shingles. Then you like the next rows up (best to work from the bottom to the top).

Onduvilla Installation

Needless to say I am excited to begin our barn project the first week of May and get this material out of their packages and up on the roof. Stay tuned for a short video on the Tiny r(E)volution YouTube channel showing our progress.

To learn more about the ONDUVILLA roofing components, and to purchase ONDUVILLA shingles and accessories, visit them online. To see other tiny housers who have chosen this material visit Tiny House Giant Journey, TinyHouse43, Wanderlust House, or Jasmin McLean.

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

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Beth - May 4, 2016 Reply

One criterion many tiny house fans will want to keep in mind when choosing roofing materials (for the tiny house and for any outbuildings) is: are you going to do rainwater catchment off the roof, and for what purposes do you plan to use that water?

    Sam - October 27, 2016 Reply

    This is a great point Beth!

alice h - May 4, 2016 Reply

I’ve seen this material at the local big box lumberyard but the sample had chunks broken off the corners. Probably from rougher treatment than it would get at home, but still not a very good advertisement for the product.

    Andrew M. Odom - May 4, 2016 Reply

    In all fairness I have seen 2″x4″ studs that are warped, bowed, or have knot holes in them. Not a great advertisement but we all still frame with those same studs. I have also seen asphalt shingles that are stuck together at the store from the tar getting too hot. Not a great advertisement but they still sell exceedingly well.

      alice h - May 5, 2016 Reply

      Well this was on a signboard set up to showcase the material. It was probably subjected to some kind of abuse along the way but if I was the manufacturer I wouldn’t be too happy about that display. I think they finally fixed it but that image has stuck with me.

Joe - August 3, 2016 Reply

I’m about to start a project on tiny house myself and this article is quite informative. As a roofer myself, I like to expand my knowledge and this certainly helped.

Matt - November 1, 2016 Reply

I love this article, and am quite a fan of the tiny home movement. I am a roofer in the Huntersville NC area, and have had quite a few connections with some shed builders that have asked us to repair and replace some roofs for them. I am looking forward to some tiny home projects that we have upcoming for next year. Thanks again for the info!

Stephen - November 21, 2016 Reply

Great article, I couldn’t agree with you more about the cedar roof’s needing a lot of care. On the other hand if it’s a cedar shake roof on a tiny house the maintenance maybe worth it.

Roof Building - November 21, 2016 Reply

Roof maintenance is the key to improve its longevity.

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