Tiny houses have become increasingly popular over the years. Young people enjoy relative simplicity. Older folks are enjoying them in retirement. No matter the tiny house owner’s age, they all benefit from the energy savings from living in them.
Plastics are used throughout the tiny house to increase energy efficiency, from the polyurethane spray foam insulation and solar shingles on the roof to the cross-linked polyethylene plumbing and vinyl windows. Owning a tiny house measurably reduces one’s carbon footprint, and energy usage can be cut drastically by using plastics and renewable energy.
What Plastic Materials Help Save Energy In a Tiny House?
“Building envelope” is crucial—the physical barriers that separate conditioned and unconditioned spaces. Building envelopes block heat/cold, air, water, light, and noise. The most significant factors in energy efficiency are temperature and air; the idea is to “seal” the envelope from the outside. Plastic building products excel there.
Here are some of the best materials to use when planning a building envelope to improve energy efficiency:
- Polyurethane – This is an ideal door material when paired with an insulating plastic foam core to improve resistance to heat and cold.
- Polycarbonate – This works great for skylights. It features excellent optical clarity, is incredibly strong and weather resistant, and offers thermal resistance and UV protection to help save energy.
- Vinyl – When used as windows with plastic frames, they can be made with multiple chambers to boost insulating properties and minimize air leaks. Vinyl can also be used for exterior features such as siding and trim. It’s waterproof and does not need periodic painting.
- Polyisocyanurate foam board – To further insulate a tiny house from the elements, this stiff plastic foam board is frequently applied to the exterior of the walls beneath the siding. This helps keep heat, cold, and untreated air from touching the wall materials and framing.
- Spray polyurethane foam insulation – The plastic foam insulation expands into the wall cavities to help keep out dust, dirt, insects, and unwelcome air and heat/cold flow.
- Solar power shingles – For those looking to generate their own energy, this product eliminates the need for an additional large panel on the roof by incorporating energy-producing solar cells directly into the plastic roof shingle.
Supplemental plastic building materials are used extensively throughout tiny houses, including plastic composite countertops, plastic bead board wall coverings, and comfortable, easy-to-maintain luxury vinyl tile.
Why Is Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) a Good Choice For Tiny Houses?
For many years, ACM has been one of the most widely used cladding materials in construction—especially for tiny houses. Constructed from two sheets of aluminum, these panels offer several benefits.
- High dimensional stability – The composite board’s dimensions won’t distort or lose its other properties over time, no matter its size.
- Impact-resistant – Studies confirm that aluminum works well for building facades due to its durability, long life, and resistance to wear and erosion.
- Multiple finishes – This composite panel’s many finishes give it flexibility. ACM panels can be textured, solid, mirror, or wood-type.
- Recyclable – Aluminum composite board’s core and cover sheets are fully recyclable, and the aluminum itself is reusable.
- Easy to work with – ACM frameworks are designed for easy and quick assembly.
- Lightweight – The thickness of aluminum makes it an ideal material for dry-installed exterior building envelope systems and is one of the most lightweight materials available recommended for cladding, insulation, and wall linings.
It’s also essential to remember that ACM panels are incredibly adaptable compared to other materials. They can be shaped into squares, rectangles, or more conventional shapes like curves and circles. Additionally, colors can be selected during the mixing and finishing stages, giving manufacturers virtually unlimited color options to satisfy design specifications.
ACM panels are also low maintenance—especially when wood paneling requires regular upkeep. On the other hand, aluminum composite material can be washed and buffed easily to remove any stains. They also hold up exceptionally well to UV wear, allowing them to maintain their color and appearance for decades.
How Much Does Aluminum Composite Panel Cost?
Exterior cladding is becoming a must-have architectural element for tiny homes. While options such as wood, vinyl, and brick all tend to have relativly low costs per square foot, with high-end wood paneling being the most expensive by far; ACM panels tend to cost more per square foot becasue of the higher quality and performance.
While ACM is more costly on average, its benefits mean it will not need to be replaced or repaired as often as other building materials—if ever at all. It’s also more efficient for creating a building envelope that will pay you back many times over in energy savings.
Tiny Home Materials At Piedmont Plastics
Whether you’re looking for high-performance plastics, insulation, ACM panels, or anything else for your tiny house construction, the professionals at Piedmont Plastics are ready to help. With over 50 locations throughout North America and a large and varied inventory, our materials experts can work with you to find the best materials for your project.
Give us a call today and we'll work with you to get the materials you need.