McCarthy Chevrolet Lee's Summit Blog

Tiny Homes on Wheels: Design Ideas to Reduce Towing Weight


America’s “tiny house” community is ironically growing larger by the day, as thousands of millennials and retirees alike seek to reduce their carbon footprint, cut down on expenses, and live off the grid. Tiny homes on wheels (or THOW) have even hit the silver screen, with numerous reality shows being aired on HGTV, DIY Network, Hulu, and other stations.

The Chevy Silverado Can Haul Anything

Still, you can’t just build a tiny home willy-nilly! Transplanting one’s life into a 350-square-foot house with wheels takes a lot of planning and preparation. Among the many design factors to consider, weight should be at the top of the list. Oftentimes weighing over 12,000 pounds, fully loaded tiny homes are built with (mostly) standard housing materials, which means they’re more burdensome to tow than typical campers or RVs.

As you begin constructing your new THOW, review these design ideas that will help you reduce towing weight. Every pound counts!

First: Choose the Right Truck

Before even starting your new tiny house’s blueprint, you need to consider tongue weight and how you’re going to tow it. Not just any truck will do – most tiny homes require a very robust heavy-duty pickup to get it from A to B, as well as the correct trailer, weight-distribution towing hitches and other trailering accessories.

We recommend comparing Silverado towing capabilities to get an idea of what type of truck you’ll need. For instance, if you are shooting for a lightweight tiny home on wheels (approximately 10,000 pounds), you may be able to get away with a half-ton Chevy Silverado 1500, which features a max trailering weight of over 12,000 pounds. Most people, however, will require a three-quarter-ton or one-ton truck, like the Silverado 2500HD or even a larger Silverado 3500HD, as they can tow up to 15,400 pounds and 23,100 pounds, respectively.

If you need advice choosing the right truck to tow a tiny house in Kansas City, speak with someone at our Lee’s Summit Chevy dealership. We’d be glad to help – and interested in learning more about your project, too!

Now, on to the design tips!

Lightweight Kitchen Countertops

You’d love to move your granite counters into your tiny home, but that’s not feasible if you plan on moving the house from place to place. (It’s so dang heavy!)

Instead, look into some alternative counters that are lighter in weight, such as Paperstone, a recycled-paper composite countertop that is fairly durable, free of chemicals, and weighs less than even laminate material.

A solid countertop option for tiny houses is cork, which is dense yet lightweight. It’s highly sustainable and resistant to water, mold, and bacteria.

Another option for your tiny home counters is hollow or reclaimed wood. With this option, you’ll be recycling, too.

Galvanized Steel

Bathroom tiles are HEAVY! In fact, aside from appliances, the trailer, and frame, tile may be the heaviest material in a tiny home.

Galvanized steel is an excellent alternative to stone tiles. Panels of galvanized steel are very cheap, durable, and weigh up to 3 times less than tile. Additionally, tile floors can crack and break as you travel, making them a poor design choice for a tiny house.

Plywood Sheathing

You can reduce hundreds of pounds of weight by gluing on and nailing plywood to the inside walls rather than installing standard wood studs throughout. Alternate between plywood and studs for security. A common high-quality material to use is birch plywood, which is aesthetically pleasing and weighs less than standard OSB wood boards.

Polycarbonate Roof

Polycarbonate panels can be excellent, cheap materials for tiny home roofs, as they are versatile, resilient, and quality insulators. If you don’t plan on living in areas that experience hurricanes or high winds, try polycarbonate framed in by a sturdy metal material.

Projector Screen & Projector

A projector and lightweight projector screen – or even just a thick white sheet – can slightly reduce weight by eliminating your standard TV. You can also position your projector in different areas of your tiny house. (It’s the little things in life.)

Smart Framing

Construct your tiny home with advanced OVE, or “smart” framing techniques to both reduce weight and the amount of lumber used. (Details about this type of construction can be found here.)

Better yet – and if money is less of a concern – build the frame of your tiny house with steel, which is 30% lighter than wood.

You can also drastically reduce your tiny home’s towing weight by installing a fiberglass exterior. Fiberglass is quite durable, as well.

Curtains Everywhere

Ditch the doors when building your tiny home on wheels. Install canvas curtains and rods to all your closets and rooms, which will cut down on weight significantly. (Keep the front door, though.)

Compact Washing Machines

Your standard washing machines and dryers are heavy appliances. With a compact automatic washing machine in your tiny home, you can eliminate that unwanted weight and still avoid the laundromat. Try a product like the Silk Lux, and then dry your clothes the old-fashioned way.


Chevy Silverado Towing Capability

Buy a New Chevy Silverado in Kansas City

It’s time to get your tiny home out on the road! Come into our Lee’s Summit truck dealership to find the ideal Silverado pickup to tow your THOW. With both new and used Silverado trucks on sale, McCarthy Chevrolet of Lee’s Summit has the selection you need when off-the-grid living is in your future. Contact our Chevy sales team at 816-356-6610 to schedule a test drive or ask about our current Silverado specials. You are also invited to visit our Lee’s Summit location at 945 SE Oldham Parkway to browse our inventory.



How To Weigh Your Tiny House

Smart-Framing a Lightweight Tiny House in Canada

Super Compact Automatic Washer


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