Insulation and a ceiling: cozying up the interior


After a few weeks of preparing for my shou sugi ban siding, I turned my attention this past week to the Matchbox's interior: aiming to get the tiny home's inside warm and cozy before the mid-Atlantic's unseasonably warm weather returns to its mid-December chill. And what a week it was: with some invaluable help from Matt Battin (plumbing), Nova Sprayfoam (insulation), and Tony Gilchriest (drywall), the Matchbox is finally beginning to resemble something more than four framed walls.

Insulation before the excess was carved off.
Day 22: Insulation installation

Insulation is important. Along with loft height and hallway width, I'd argue that getting insulation right is one of the single most important things in making a tiny house livable. And for a zero-resource house like the Matchbox, ensuring that the house can be kept warm without perpetually running a heater is even more vital. So I was thrilled to finally have my sprayfoam insulation put in last Monday by a few certified installers, and to find that, well, it works exceptionally well.

For heat, I'm using a little electric fireplace by Dimplex: perfect because it's compact, runs without propane, and even has a flame-only setting for fireplace ambiance without the fireplace heat in the summertime. It's rated to heat a room up to four-hundred-square-feet, so it's more than enough for the Matchbox's tiny 140-square-foot interior. After just a few minutes with the Dimplex running, the house gets nice and toasty, and with the stellar sprayfoam insulation, it stays that way for hours and hours. I'll be talking more about insulationand why I chose (open-cell) sprayfoamin an upcoming post, but for now, let's just say that I'm super-satisfied with the choice.

Before the insulation installation, a few loose ends inside had to be tied up: namely, (a) finish screwing in the hurricane ties that hold the walls' top plates to the roof joists, (b) get preliminary plumbing piping put in, and (c) finish bolting the hold-downs, which tie the house to the trailer, into the walls and floor.

Hours: 8
Hours to date: 207

Day 23: Drywalling the ceiling

The drywall lift hoisting a panel.
I never intended to use drywall in my tiny house construction, and tiny home builders usually steer clear of it due to concerns over how it'll hold up on the bumpy open road, but by stubbornly sticking to adobe plaster wallswhich can't adhere to plywood due to its tendency (as a wood) to expand and contractit looks like drywall is my only viable option.

That's not to say that drywall, or sheetrock, is necessarily a bad optionsimply untested in the world of tiny homes on wheels. Indeed, there are some rather appealing advantages to sheetrock over plywood: it's cheaper, much easier to cut, and simpler to screw into (alas, it is far messier to work with). As for which option is greener, I'd have to go with a qualified nod to drywall, as well; whereas plywood requires trees and questionable chemical adhesives like urea-formaldehyde in its production, sheetrock is simply a mixture of gympsum, water, and a little paper (gypsum, of course, must be mined for, so neither paneling choice is truly ideal).

In any case, Tony and I agreed to take a slight risk and build the Matchbox's inner walls with drywall, starting with the ceiling and working our way down. With just a few hours of work and the assistance of a rented drywall lift, the ceiling was fully patched up and ready for its adobe plaster finish.

Hours: 4
Hours to date: 211

Other news around the Boneyard: Brian's house is up and his windows are in, Lee explores design-by-doing, Matt talks insulation, Tony returns to DC, and tiny home supporters are urged to come out in force to this month's DC zoning public input meetings. Boneyard Studios also gets some more publicitymore on that later.

Insulation and a ceiling!


"When I had no roof, I made audacity my roof." — Robert Pinksy, Samurai Song


  1. Looks like you had a really good company doing it. Welcome to the 21st Century. Hee hee.


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