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How a Rainscreen Wall System Can Help Your Tiny House

How a Rainscreen Wall System Can Help Your Tiny House

9/3/15 (1 year ago)

How a Rainscreen Wall System Can Help  Your Tiny House

Moisture control is an issue for any house build including a mobile tiny house like ours. Even though our tiny house will not be sitting on the ground like a regular home, it will be out in the ever-changing weather wherever we tow it. Also, since our home is designed with full hook-ups, we plan on living “on grid” and will have neighbors and we would love to not be able to hear them if at all possible, so we need noise pollution control.

When researching wall construction and siding options for our tiny house on wheels we discovered some interesting solutions for moisture control and noise dampening. One option gave us both. This solution is called a "rainscreen." If you did an Web search (after reading this blog post of course) you will find all the information you could possibly need to realize that this is a smart choice for your tiny house build.

What is a rainscreen?

A rainscreen wall system, in a nutshell, has the following components:

  • Water-resistant barrier (like Tyvec or tarred felt paper).

  • Air gap between the water-resistant barrier and the back of the siding you choose. This is achieved by using furring strips or a rainvent sheeting material.

  • Flashings at all penetrations and vulnerable areas like around windows, doors, sun roofs.

  • Weep holes at the bottom of the wall at the very least as well as ventilation openings at the top of the wall if at all possible (we did both). There are extensive opinions online about the pros and cons of using one or both. You decide. If you do decide to do both, just remember to install a bug screen mesh behind the vents to prevent bugs from making a home in that nice air gap behind your siding!

Advantages of a rainscreen wall system

Rainscreen gaps help walls manage moisture. Water always finds its way to areas you don't want it to go. So when you install a rainscreen, you are just anticipating the inevitable and taking measures to prevent water damage to your home. You are building a place for that water to dry out or follow a path away from your home.

Since some tiny homes on wheels have used OSB and many are using rigid foam insulation it would be very wise to have a rainscreen since these products, once wet, do not release moisture and become breeding grounds for mold.

How does a rainscreen help with noise control?

When researching soundproofing/dampening your walls there are many options to choose from. Some help with the noise you generate inside your home (do you play the drums?) and the others help with noise originating outside your home (what we worry about). So one effective way to lesson noise from the outside is to disrupt a sound wave’s path of entry into your home. You can do this by having a gap between the outer and inner materials of your home (much like a rainscreen).

How we embraced the rainscreen

Walls:

  1. Installed Tyvec (cheaper, generic version) over our rigid foam insulation/metal studs

  2. Attached 1” wood furring strips along each of the metal studs and around windows and doors (in order to attach siding)

  3. Attach metal siding to furring strips

Roof:

  1. Attach OSB plywood on top of rigid foam insulation panels and metal studs

  2. Install ice & water membrane over OSB (like a second roof)

  3. Install Dupont Rain Vent batten along each metal stud location

  4. Install metal roof with DuraTech paint coating

After living in our big tiny house for about 6 months, we have been pleased with the rainscreen. It has definitely lessened the noise pollution as well as increased the insulating ability of our walls. All these benefits with negligible weight increase. We felt we made a good decision and it gives us a measure of peace knowing that moisture damage won't be a problem and living in a mobile home park won't be so noisy.

View our photos of the wall panel phase of construction ›