With the underside of the trailer prepared, we were ready to add insulation and then build our sub floor.
There are a few options for floor insulation, and we decided on rigid foam insulation. It is, unfortunately, just big sheets of styrofoam, and I hate styrofoam, but we went with it anyway because it is affordable, light weight, easy to work with, and relatively non-toxic during installation. It is also supposedly mold and moisture resistant, which is appealing as residents of the foggy California coast.
We encountered a few challenges installing the foam. The first was a result of the way our trailer chassis was built, because its steel beams are C-shaped, rather than rectangular (each beam has three sides rather than four) so we had to cut the foam into small pieces, then shove each piece at an angle in against the inside of the beams, then pound it down to make a tight fit.
Additionally, rigid foam has a foil covering on one side, which is designed to protect the material from moisture. When working in direct sunlight, this foil covering becomes a gigantic mirror, reflecting and then amplifying the sunlight back at us in shocking retina-blasting flashes. Ouch, every time.
While I worked on the insulation, David attached long 2X4s around the outside edges of the trailer. These beams will provide us with an attachment point for the plywood sub floor and the framing.
Here is a photograph of the completed floor insulation and 2X4 perimeter.
Once the insulation was installed and the perimeter was ready, it was time for the most exciting part yet: attaching the sub floor!
We used thick tongue and groove plywood, then one by one we laid out the sheets, cut off the tongues around the perimeter, spread low VOC sub floor adhesive on the frame, drilled self-tapping screws through the plywood and into the steel frame every 6 or 12 inches, then moved on to the next sheet. We left a 1/8 of an inch gap between each sheet of plywood to allow for shifting and expanding/contracting over time. David gets credit for doing all of the drilling into steel for the sub floor, and he was a boss at it.
Here is a photo of the finished sub floor. We think it makes a great outdoor yoga studio, mobile camping surface, and dance floor.
When first doing research on building our own home, David and I found many a warning against building a home with your partner. People from tiny house blogs wrote things like, “make sure you and your partner work well together BEFORE building a house together, or you may not be together for long” and “building a house will destroy your marriage.” We laughed at these doomsayer warnings, but decided it was probably a good idea to make a plan for managing the stress we knew building a house would add to our lives, and possibly to our relationship. We talked it over, and read a few blogs from couples who are still together after their projects, and we found one recommendation that we really liked. It went something like this:
“Drink plenty of water. Be sure to eat enough food.”
We liked this and took it to heart, and we always bring plenty of both to the job site and it seems to really help. Another important element of the job site has been music. We bring music or listen to the radio while we work, and it helps to make the environment more lively. It also means we dance around a lot. After our first week of working together we decided to add another important ingredient to the recipe for what we believe will be a fun and positive experience building together. It’s our tiny house building project motto. Here it is:
“Drink plenty of water. Be sure to eat enough food. Dance.”
So we’ve been dancing at the end of each work day. Sometimes we bootie dance, sometimes we swing, sometimes Maxine or Sascha join us and we end up with kiddos crawling all over us. It’s been great. We love it, and so far we still love each other.
Here is a video of us celebrating our completed sub floor.