Windows and Doors

Research Phase

First up, Tiny Plumbing Part 2 will have to wait for a little longer, since my friend is still out of the province and I need to have a chat with him in order to say anything sensible about engineered wetlands. Therefore, we have a topic change!

I recently started panicking because I realized that even though we had our floor plan sorted out, we hadn’t decided about window placement, which is actually much more important at the beginning since it has to be factored into the framing. It just goes to show how many decisions and choices you have to make with a project like this… much more than you initially realize.

There are three main things you have to think about with windows – construction, function, and size.

Construction

The options are vinyl, fiberglass, wood, clad-wood, aluminum, or hybrid. Our top choice is clad-wood, which translates to a wooden core frame, with a vinyl or thin aluminum skin on the exterior facing side. This allows us to have the warmth and aesthetic pleasure of wood on the inside of the tiny house, yet not have to worry about maintenance on the outside of the tiny house. Wooden windows are by far my favourite looking (vinyl is hella ugly..), but the problem is rot – particularly in the wet damp climate that we call home. From what I’ve read online, sadly, it seems like clad-wood windows are the most expensive, but we’re hoping that (similar to our philosophy with the insulation) since we won’t be needing as many as a regular house, we can make up for quantity with quality, and not come out too much in the red. Also worth mentioning: it’s important to us to use healthy natural materials, rather than synthetic materials, to avoid the ill-effects of chemical fumes from the resins and chemicals used in vinyl and fiberglass.

Function

is all about what your windows do, and how they do it. Fixed windows don’t open, which is useless for a tiny house, since circulation and ventilation is very important in a small space. Of the windows that open, you’ve got:

  1. Awning (opens outward from a hinge on the top)
  2. Casement (opens out from a hinge on one of the sides)
  3. Single- or double-hung (window has a horizontal division, creating two y-axis sections, whereby the bottom half slides up, or the upper half slides down)
  4. Sliders (window has a vertical division, creating two x-axis sections that can slide to the left or the right)Our first choice for as many windows as possible is awning style, which will allow us to have windows open while it’s raining – KEY in Newfoundland. Especially the windows in the lofts… I’m expecting it to get pretty toasty up there in the summers, so having a cross breeze through the place will be heavenly. The one exception is the bathroom. We’re thinking about having a larger slider window in there that you could exit through, as a second escape route.

Size

The size of windows is highly dependent on your budget, your layout, and furniture dimensions. Obviously, the bigger the window, the bigger the price tag. In general, I want a larger  (3ft x 4ft ?) window at both ends, and a decent sized window opposite the door, which will be placed on one of the long sides of the tiny house. Having these opposing window set-ups allows for lines of sight through the house, giving the allusion of a larger space. In addition, I want a porthole window SOMEwhere in the place – I love boats, and all things marine, and this is just a fun little add-on for me. I think most porthole windows are fixed though, so it will be a small one, and somewhere not hugely important in terms of logistics for circulation. Maybe in the door!! For the lofts, I really like the idea from hOMe (see the picture of the tiny hosue on my first blog post), where they have very wide but narrow windows. They look fixed, but I will be checking out the possibility of getting ones like these that can open awning style.

Another thing to think about is energy efficiency (look for the Energy Star logo – and check out this link off the Gov. of Canada website). Also, this is news to me – but hooray for research! – Energy Star has developed climate zones, and you should buy products designed for your Climate Zone. The majority of Newfoundland, save the Great Northern Peninsula, is in Zone B, which has a heating degree-day range of >3,500 to

Double pane, argon gas-filled windows will provide the best insulation and prevent condensation from developing in between the panes.

Home Depot does a great job of explaining all the lingo about windows.
I also found ThisOldHouse and HGTV very helpful in understanding what I needed to know to make the necessary choices.

All in all, we still need to make a trip to Home Depot or Kent or Rona somewhere and have a discussion with someone knowledgeable. I’d really rather buy as many stocked windows as possible to avoid the high prices of custom windows. But in all likelihood, we will end up having some custom made ones. Specifics about this will have to wait until we purchase, because I just don’t have the know-how yet!


I have a very soft spot for doors – they are important to me. Doors have character, and they say a lot about how homeowners want visitors to feel when they come knocking. The front door is what you look at, pondering, while you wait for someone inside to come and let you in out of the cold. I have spent a decent amount of time in my life considering what to expect during a first impression while examining the details of a door. Door hardware is essential, and should be of good quality. One of the most annoying things about our current apartment is the lack of thinking that went into the front door. It opens outward, which is very frustrating when exiting a basement after a large snowfall; and, the locking mechanism inside the handle often freezes, leaving us frantically trying to wrestle the door open while the wind whips up through our walkway, aka wind tunnel, created by the side of the house and an adjacent parallel fence. On top of that, the weather stripping seems to have been installed improperly, causing the door to actually freeze in its frame sometimes, when the handle is unlocked.

I really want a solid wood door, and I would love to paint it a fun colour 🙂 perhaps turquoise or red, like the one in the picture. It’s possible we may end up trying to put together a custom built door, which could hopefully use locally sourced materials, and perhaps some recycled hardware. This would allow me to integrate my porthole idea!

The only other door in the place will be a sliding barn style door for the bathroom. In order to accommodate it, we can tip the 2x4s sideways, for the wall framing, so that we don’t lose any space to an unnecessarily thick wall.

I promise, the next post will be the much awaited FLOOR PLAN!! The windows and doors will make a bit more sense once you see it, but I needed to get this stuff down on paper to alleviate my anxiety about having neglected such essential tiny house features.

As per usual, any suggestions or companies / brands you’ve had good experiences with, let me know! Thanks for reading folks.

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