Which Wood is Best for Building Sustainably?
At Tiny Lifestyle our products begin with a traditionally-built timber frame made from Douglas Fir. “These structures are of the highest spec, using the best timber we can find in New Zealand,” says cofounder Graeme Scott.
Douglas Fir (aka Oregan Fir) is a naturally durable heartwood with a warm colour and increased lateral strength. “We use naturally resistant timbers as part of our ethos,” explains Graeme. “It must be untreated, non-toxic and sustainably-sourced.”
The core superstructures of the tiny house is a handmade traditional timber frame. Large greenwood timbers are slotted together with wooden pegs to form stunning, natural structures, without the need for nails. Traditional greenwood timber construction is one of the oldest forms of building, dating back to some of man’s first primitive structures, and remaining in use today. Buildings are designed to last, the older they get, the stronger they become as the joints tighten with age.
“On our kit-set The Rameka, specialist wood can be sourced if required, but the main super-structure is constructed from our own milled Douglas Fir,” Graeme explains. “Panelled walls then fit onto the frame to allow for quick assembly. The panels are constructed with Macrocarpa or Lusitanica tongue-and-groove to line the inside of the walls. If they’ve been grown right, they provide nice, clean timber with a beautiful creamy colour, perfect for staining or oiling. They’re also naturally resistant”
The floors are made from Elm, a naturally durable timber with good oils. “It’s not super-soft so it doesn’t dent easily; you’re safe to walk around in stilettos. We could also use Lawson Cypress which is another lovely creamy wood and great for external weatherboarding, as is Lusitanica.”
“There are lots of woods that we hope to use in the future if we can source them or grow them,” Graeme adds. “Eucalyptus Saligna is a great New Zealand hardwood that is totally durable. Sweet Chestnut.. Totara is a magnificent wood, class 1 (out of 4) - the best. It can handle the elements - the sun and rain and moisture from the ground. It’s fantastic all round and contains an oil called Totarol - a naturally produced preservative.”
Inside the timber frame is a ‘stick frame’ which is filled with insulation, followed by a layer of build wrap: “This stops condensation and moisture entering the building, but allows air to move,” says Graeme. “Then we add battens and weather-boarding, all milled by our company and of the highest quality Douglas Fir.
“The finish can be straight edge like a lapboard or a waney edge for a rustic appearance. “It’s neat and clean inside with good lines and there’s no arsenic, no copper-sulphate and no primride in the timber. This creates a sturdy, healthy base for you to transform into the tiny space of your dreams: A sleepout, workshop - the possibilities are endless and will stand the test of time.”