Let's add a tiny deck onto our tiny house (and gas springs for the swing wall)
Matt, the dad here! We always intended to include a deck with our tiny house. When we initially purchased our materials, we misjudged how much we needed and didn’t have enough for the deck. We had to wait again for more materials to get in stock.
Just like the base of the tiny house, the deck has to be level. We built the outside frame of the deck. We dug holes and used gravel and cinder blocks for the deck support. We used levels to keep checking throughout the process until it was just right.
In the above picture, you can see how we cut the plastic of the swing wall so it extended down below the edge. This was great for keeping rain out, but it was too low for us to install the deck. Theresa had to cut it again with the Dremel tool to make space for the deck.
Next to measure and install the cross beams to offer support for the top of the deck.
We had final checks to make sure everything was centered, balanced, and level. We screwed the deck into the frame for great stability.
Catherine and Theresa then installed the top boards, making sure to leave a small gap between each, allowing any rainwater to drain.
Then we just needed to sand the deck to prepare it for staining later.
We learned that building projects make a lot of mess and require a lot of tools. Many we rented or borrowed, and a few we bought.
One thing we hadn’t addressed was how to keep the swing wall open and supported. One of the nice options of this design is the swing wall AND optional deck combined. When you open the swing wall with the deck, it really opens up the space, and the tiny house seems much larger!
The “swing wall” is about two-thirds of one of the slanted walls. It’s great to look through when closed, and it brings in great natural light. Although when the sun is shining through it on a hot day, it creates a “greenhouse” effect, and it can feel like an oven. Opening up the swing wall made a lot of difference on those days.
One problem with the swing wall was the weight – it was relatively heavy. It was over 50 pounds, so there was a lot of force involved to open it yourself when it was closed and for the final push upward at the end of the swing. When lifting it up we had to place a wooden beam under it to keep it open. It was really a two-person job. It wasn’t awful, but we thought there might be another solution.
A friend of mine suggested we look into something called a gas spring. They are used in some people’s car trunks and hoods and in many other scenarios. They make it much easier to open and close and help doors stay open when you want. We loved that idea! But would it work for something like this? I got to work doing research on them online and asked companies about the measurements to find the type and size. We found an awesome site called Gasspringsshop.com – you put in all your measurements, and it tells you what type you need, hardware, and where and how to install them. (We got the Gas spring 14-28 Stroke 500, with a Force of 300 N, but we think we should have gone the next strength up because when it gets cold, it doesn’t stay open.) Their customer support was awesome too.
We got two and installed them on each side. It was much much easier to open and close. Once you got it to the top, it stayed open. And you could easily do it with one person. It was perfect! (Well, mostly – more on that later). It opens right above the small deck and we can spill out to the deck and enjoy the outside air. A little house with a little deck makes a big difference.
While it did increase the budget, we were very happy with the results.
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