The outside of your tiny home is the first thing people will see. It’s an opportunity to “dress up” your tiny house and showcase your home’s unique personality.

Choosing the right siding material isn’t as easy as picking the coolest one at the store. Looks aside, your siding will seal your home from moisture damage and pest infestations, so you want to make sure it’s equally functional and aesthetically pleasing.

So, what is the best exterior siding for a tiny house? The top three materials are wood, steel, and vinyl. What you choose depends on your budget, tiny house weight, style preferences, and climate. It’s important to know these factors before deciding on your tiny house siding. 

Not sure where to start? Read on to learn about the different kinds of siding materials, as well as some tips on how to pick the right one. 

Choosing the Right Tiny House Siding Material 

Choosing the right siding material isn’t as easy as picking the coolest one at the store. Looks aside, your siding will seal your home from moisture damage and pest infestations, so you want to make sure it’s equally functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Before making a purchase, here are some things you should consider when it comes to shopping for your exterior siding:

1. Landscaping Factor

The outside of your tiny house can say a lot about the inside of your home. Sidings made from stainless steel, corrugated metal, and aluminum often give a clean modernist touch to a tiny home, whereas natural materials made from wood and clay lend an earthy appeal to your tiny house. 

It’s not just the inside-outside transition that you want to keep in mind. Whether you’re traveling from state to state or staying in one location, you might want to consider how the exterior blends with the rest of the environment. You don’t want your tiny house to stick out like a sore thumb.

2. Lightweight and Towable

Wood is a timeless siding option that gives that iconic traveling cabin identity to any tiny home. But in reality, not every tiny house builder could afford to have wood siding because of how heavy the material is.

This is especially true for tiny house owners who live in countries with strict weight limits. Siding can easily add an extra 700 - 1,000 lbs to your final weight, giving you less space for things that actually do matter. 

The good news is that there are other materials that are lightweight but still look like wood. Quality Edge produces amazing steel siding that’s easily mistakable for classic wood siding. 

3. Structural Integrity During Towing

There’s a reason why it’s rare to see a tiny house on wheels with shingle siding. Cute as it may be, shingles are susceptible to wind damage, and individual pieces would experience a faster rate of wear and tear just from constant bumpiness, wind exposure, and vibrations from travelling. 

When deciding what siding material to get, try to get a sense of what your tiny house lifestyle will be. If you’re building your tiny house on a land you own, your choice of siding materials are practically limitless. You could prioritize design more than anything else. On the other hand, if you’re deciding on a tiny house on wheels exterior siding, you’ll have to compromise between towability and visual appeal. 

4. Non Combustible Material

Pests, debris, and moisture aren’t the only things you have to worry about when you’re on the road. Because of its small space, tiny homes can pose as a fire hazard if you choose materials that are conducive to fire. 

The siding is your home’s first line of defense against fire. If you’re in an area where wildfires are rampant, going for a non combustible siding option is definitely the right choice. Tom, a tiny house owner located in a wildfire-prone area, decided that the best move was to fireproof his home using corrugated iron siding, which is a non combustible material. 

Ryan’s 8 x 13 tiny house might not be built with non combustible siding, but its size allows it to escape wildfires as quickly as possible. After experiencing the California wildfires in 2017, Ryan downsized from a 28 ft tiny house further to a smaller home for quick evasion. 

While his siding option, reclaimed wood shingles, may not be the most fire resistant, it goes to show that adjustments to your build can open up more flexible design options. By trading size for mobility, Ryan doesn’t have to worry about wildfires because of how easily he can evade them. 

5. Climate and Environmental Factors

Wildfires might be a giant hazard but they’re evadable with right timing. On the other hand, thunderstorms, hail, drought are constant environmental factors that could deal sustained damage to your tiny house. Factor in things like material expansion, malleability, and resistance to rot and moisture when picking out your exterior material. 

Best Siding Materials for Tiny House

At a Glance


Cost / sq. ft.WeightWeather ResistanceDurability and Maintenance
Aluminum$4 to $9 per square footAbout 30 to 35 lbs per 100 square feetPerforms well in cold weather and is considered fire-resistant. Expands in hot weather and produces noise15+ years with frequent enamel maintenance
Corrugated Steel$4 to $8 per square foot0.60 to 1.00 lbs per square foot, depending on the thickness of the material Great for all weathers and climates; fire-resistantLasts decades with minimal maintenance required
T1-11$3 to $6 per square footDepends whether it’s plywood or OSB; varies according to material thickness. Starts at 1.8 lbs per square footAbsorbs moisture easily, requires extra protection for damp, high-humid locationsLasts 10+ years or longer with new coating every 3 to 5 years
Cedar$7 on average per square footDepends on board length and thickness, starts at 2.3 lbs for the lightest optionHolds up well against all weather conditions, not fire-resistant25+ years and can be extended with treatment every 3 to 5 years
Pine$5 to $7 per square footDepends on thickness but can range between 1 to 2.5 lbs per square footRequires seal to protect it from rot and pests, not fire-resistant20+ years and can be extended with treatment every 3 to 5 years
Vinyl$2 to $6 per square footAbout 40 to 50 lbs per 100 square feetIdeal for mild climates; shorter lifespan for regions with rain and drastic climate fluctuations; conducive to fire20 to 40 years depending on climate and thickness

Aluminum

Aluminum siding came as a replacement to sheet metal in the 1930s, which allowed builders to transcend the problems associated with sheet metal. This material doesn’t warp, leak, or rust, making it an easy siding material to work with. It provides airtight security around your tiny home and effectively keeps out bugs and moisture damage. 

This siding material is lightweight and durable, which is a perfect option if you’re building a tiny house on wheels. While the material itself is durable, the enamel coating giving the aluminum a nice industrial feel requires regular maintenance, although not as frequently as wood.

The Living Space is a tiny house that uses 100% aluminum siding. This off-grid tiny house is built to last in all weather conditions, and can support self-sustained living for one month. Clapboard varieties with wood-like grains are available for a more modern finish. 

The downside of using aluminum siding is that it can get scratched and dented. If your tiny house on wheels is going to be parked near forest areas, having aluminum siding could mean spending a lot on repainting or replacing panels altogether. 

Corrugated Steel 

Corrugated steel is another popular option for tiny house siding. It’s cheap, accessible, and virtually indestructible. The wave pattern you see on the siding actually increases the tensile strength of the material. As a result, corrugated steel is resistant to all kinds of impact and can withstand dents and warps. 

Corrugated steel can be painted in virtually any color you want, making it one of the most flexible siding options available. Mic and Lyndi’s tiny house features a combination of white corrugated steel and cedar wood, a trend that’s increasing in popularity among builders. 

The ribbed pattern can be flattened with a hammer when needed, allowing builders to make adjustments to the material when necessary. Corrugated steel also doesn’t have the same expansion issues as wood and aluminum, making it a great option for those exposing their tiny homes in all sorts of weather conditions. 

T1-11 

T1-11 siding refers to two wood-based “grades” of siding, plywood and OSB (oriented strand board). These wood-alternatives are lighter and cheaper in comparison. Both products come in a variety of thicknesses and finishes, giving builders creative freedom when it comes to working with T1-11 siding.

Plywood Or OSB? Picking the Right T1-11 Siding

Some differences between OSB and plywood can ultimately decide what’s best for your tiny home. For starters, OSB is sensitive to moisture and can expand after soaking up water, whereas plywood retains its shape even after exposure to water. 

Plywood comes in smooth and rough finishes, making it an attractive siding option. On the other hand, the patterns on the OSB remain visible after being stained or painted, which affects its overall curb appeal. 

OSB is a great sheathing option because of its affordability and durability, but we don’t recommend it as a siding material. It deteriorates too quickly and doesn’t look that visually appealing. Plywood would be a better option between the two because it’s less susceptible to moisture damage. 

Affordability and ease of installation are two of the main reasons why people use T1-11 plywood as their exterior material. If you don’t mind the constant maintenance work that involves recaulking, resealing, and repainting the panels every 2 to 5 years, then T11-11 siding could be a great way to save money on your tiny house costs. 

Cedar 

Cedar wood is an iconic siding option that instantly gives your tiny house a mountain cabin feel. The material’s unmistakable pattern looks beautiful whether it’s raw or stained. Gora’s tiny house exterior shows the versatility of this material through her choice of dark cedar boards for a more contemporary finish. 

Cedar is a durable, eco-friendly material that can be fashioned into different varieties. Instead of going for a clapboard design, you can cut your siding into shingles and shakes to give your tiny house a barnwood look. This material only gets better with time and is the perfect choice for those who are looking for a low maintenance option.

Being wood, it doesn’t have the strongest fire rating and requires chemical treatment for extra protection. The material itself is less susceptible to pests and insects than non-natural options so some degree of maintenance is necessary. 

Pine

Pine is one of the most common wood siding materials used for houses in the United States. Its affordability, durability, and aesthetic versatility makes it a great exterior option. Because it doesn’t have a distinct grain pattern like cedar, it can be painted and stained to create the look you want. 

Pine is a fantastic option for DIYers. The material is strong and durable enough to last impacts on the road, but malleable enough that builders can shape it easily. On the other hand, pine can be prone to warping and expansion, so make sure to pick out boards that are straight from end to end. 

Commonly used to line barns, treated pine is known to last through all weather conditions. Repainting it regularly can preserve the color and finish of the wood. 

Chrissy’s tiny house uses a combination of stained horizontal pine boards and vertical T1-11 siding. Combining two materials is a great way to add some character to your build and make your tiny house more unique. 

Vinyl

Vinyl is another lightweight and affordable exterior material. You can still find old school vinyl sidings that look like cheap plastic, but you could also go up the range and find ones that have wood-like patterns. Unlike natural materials, vinyl doesn’t rust, rot, and is moisture resistant. 

Companies advertise vinyl as a durable material but a lot of it has to do with installation. The material expands with temperature fluctuations, and a loose installation would be susceptible to wind damage since wind can get under the cracks and pull it away from the sheathing during travel. 

It’s another great material for DIYers. Tom, a self-professed beginner at all things construction, managed to pull off a good vinyl siding installation for his own tiny house. 

Little to no maintenance is required to maintain its lustre. A simple power wash every year should clean the dirt and mud off its surface. It’s the best tiny house on wheels exterior siding option since it’s both lightweight and travel-friendly. 

On the downside, being mostly made out of PVC, vinyl is extremely flammable and can release toxic chemicals in the event of a fire. 

Final Tips on Tiny House Siding

Setting a criteria makes it easier to narrow down your options. Make shopping a bit easier by asking yourself the following questions:

1. Am I concerned about my tiny house’s weight?

2. Am I going to be traveling or will I be stationary?

3. What are the weather conditions in my area? 

4. What is my skill level? Do I need help installing my siding?

5. What kind of style do I want my tiny house to have?

6. Is it important that I use chemical-free materials?

7. Do I want to mix and match materials?

Choosing the right material can seem like a huge responsibility (and it is) but don’t forget that it’s also a way to express yourself. Just have fun and enjoy the process - you’re close to finishing your tiny home! 

About Us

Manuela and Ivan from Tiny House Bloom

Hey, there! We're Ivan and Manuela from Croatia, and we're crazy about tiny houses. We don't own one (yet).

This website is a result of our passion to share all the knowledge, photos, tips and tricks that we were able to learn while studying everything possible about the tiny house movement.