How to Build a Tiny House With Salvaged Materials

Tiny House Expedition
by Tiny House Expedition

I want to share how to build a tiny house with salvaged materials.

We built our tiny house in 2014 with the help of friends and family over nine months of ups and downs and trial and error. It was all worth it in the end, but I needed help.

Tiny house

My name is Christopher Moorhead, and this is my tiny house. I designed and built, and we are here on the outskirts of Asheville, North Carolina.

Tiny house

1. Balconies

The balconies are to each loft, and I wanted to give it more character.

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So I thought of repurposing some wine bottles, which a friend was nice enough to secure for me.

They're both the same on both sides. They're fused. So, these are both on the inside and the outside of the loft walls.

A bit more about the design aesthetic: I wanted an open feel that overlooked everything and let sunlight in from the windows when you were up in the loft. It took a little bit of time, but I was able to salvage some scraps here and there from various salvage stores and, basically, anywhere I could find some scrap wood.

Believe it or not, after looking at various types of stains, I wanted a yellow, but I couldn't find it, and I wasn't too good at using dyes consistently without seeing them wash out.

Tiny house
Tiny house

I ended up using turmeric.

So this is an application of turmeric placed over the wood, and then I just put some clear coat over that. You can also see from this side the other side of the wine bottles that I'd fused, and once again, I used the gasket technique. These are just the gaskets that go around basic garbage disposal units.

2. Salvaged shower doors

Going into the bathroom, the little small hallway in here, on the left, I have more paper bag flooring, and over here, there are more found scraps of hardwood flooring and engineered flooring.

I did design the door around an old shower door my folks had given me when they were remodeling their bathroom.

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I somehow managed to dream up a good old barn door.

The problem with barn doors is they don't offer much privacy for people who are outside of the house as far as sound or anything else, so I wanted to get it as tight to the wall as possible, and for that, you usually have handles or flush pulls and to avoid having anything stick out too much.

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3. Super recycling

As far as reusing repurposed materials left over from the materials that I'd had from other projects when I was done finishing the ceiling with some reclaimed flooring from the cabin up the mountain that I helped a friend remove.

I'd gotten a good steal at a local surplus company on a set of corner shower doors for 40 bucks. When I took it home, it was brand new in a box from 1996. It hadn't been open; as it turned out, it was a $1,200 jacuzzi unit.

I quickly learned how to tile and use river stones for the floor. I thought that was an ingenious way to wash your feet while you're showering, which inspired me.

For the ceiling to keep water out from the electrical and stop it from getting up in the beams, I installed a Panasonic fan, which is a fantastic vent.

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4. Kitchen salvage

The kitchen probably took longer than any other room in the house, and at this point, I felt pretty confident with my carpentry skills.

One of the biggest problems I had with the bedroom was that I used reclaimed barn wood flooring, and the issue was after one or two winters of working a building the house that despite the strongest decking screws imaginable to

put it together, it did start to buckle and bend.

I came up with an elegant solution, just encasing everything in. I just continued the trim work with the ceiling and around the perimeters for the actual crown molding.

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As far as challenges go, in this room, the biggest challenge was figuring out how to configure lighting.

You want a well-lit area, but you don't want a bunch of wires running around in an open loft beam situation. So, I had to get a little creative.

For my drop-down lights over the bar, I used the remaining parts of the wine bottles I'd used for the portal windows for the lofts.

Then, I could encase everything in some leftover Sepale, again from the beams, and I had a couple of extra parts of that wood.

And for those unfamiliar with Sepale, it's known as the poor man's mahogany.

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It is infinitely more affordable, looks beautiful, and looks just like mahogany but cheaper than oak.

So I just made a container that held it in and tried to follow the same style of trim work that I'd done for the rest of the ceiling.

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5. Bedroom salvage

I want to make the world's largest headboard, a collection of cigar boxes and lids. I pieced them together to make a pattern and filled them in with some strips and sides of cigar boxes.

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6. Recording studio

Mostly everything was left over from the leftovers, so this is super, super recycling of materials.

One way to get the acoustics managed is through diffusion or absorption. It is usually handled through foam, which I have these up for.

Then, with more scraps of Sepale and also the triangles that were cut off of the leftover framing from the house, I was able to make reflectors, and what these do is they take the sound.

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Tiny house advice

My advice to anyone building a tiny house and wanting to do it themselves is to become familiar with your local contractors and also become familiar with a lot of the resources in your area.

The more you put out what you're doing, the more you broadcast your intentions to your community and associations.

I hope you learned how to build a tiny house with salvaged materials. A lot of the things that were the most significant challenges ended up being the most fun.

What salvaged materials have you used in projects? Let me know in the comments below.

Next, Tour This Tiny House That's Made From Recycled Materials.

Join the conversation
2 of 3 comments
  • Carol de la Fuente Carol de la Fuente on Feb 03, 2024
    Your home is very lovely and how nice that you were able to do soo much recycling with such fantastic results!!!
  • Jacque Jacque on Feb 03, 2024
    beautiful. I love recycling things. This gives me ideas for for guest house at my cabin, or just adding another and bath.