Tiny House Tires - What Makes a Good One and How to Care for Them
Photo Credit: Guillaume Dutilh and-Jenna Spesard
Unlike a traditional foundation home, tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) are built on chassis. Chassis give THOW owners the benefit of locational flexibility, but they have a few unique considerations. One of those considerations: your home has tires.
Your home's foundation is everything, and since your chassis-foundation rests on tires, it's imperative that you select ones that are up to the task! Not only that, but you also need to know how to care for them.
In doing research for this blog, we reached out to Tracy Manchego-Baker of Trailer Made Custom Trailers (a specialty tiny house trailer company) to understand what considerations go into choosing tiny house tires. She was able to give us the 4-1-1 and provide us with tips to keep our tiny tires in good shape! Here is what we learned.
The first thing the world needs to understand is this: tiny houses are heavy. Like, really heavy. Think somewhere between twelve
and twenty-eight thousand pounds. (Oh, and furnishing a tiny house usually adds an extra thousand pounds or so to the equation!)
Maybe you already had a hunch that tiny houses are heavy. Still, it's worth repeating because underestimating weight (and therefore using inappropriate materials) is a common mistake we see in the tiny house world. Again, we're talking about a house here, so it's vital that the pieces constructing the foundation are solid. It's pretty hard to fix things when the mistakes are literally foundational!
Weight is the main factor that will determine your tiny house tire, and for that reason, we'll focus the conversation there.
So how do you know what kind of tires you will need to support the weight of your tiny? Well, to determine that we have to look at ply rating and load range.
All tires have ply ratings and load ranges. Understanding these two elements is crucial as it will allow you to make the appropriate choice for your tiny house. Let's start with ply rating.
Put simply, a ply rating gives you information about a tire's strength and capacity for inflation. If you want to get a bit more technical, it's a number that expresses the safe carrying capacity of a tire inflated to its maximum pressure. The higher the ply rating, the more weight the tire can support.
We can't discuss weight, however, without also discussing load range. Load range indicates the amount of weight a tire can handle in pounds. Whereas ply rating is indicated by numbers, load range is expressed as a letter.
It will make more sense when you start looking into the specifics of your tiny house dreams, but just know that tiny house tires typically range from ten to fourteen ply with an E-G load range. And if you are building your tiny house yourself, remember what we said earlier about not underestimating weight. You'll always want to err on the side of caution when choosing tires!
So now that you know how to select the right tire, let's discuss how to keep them in good condition!
Keeping your tires in good conditio
n is more than just an aesthetic thing- it's a serious safety concern! Remember how heavy tiny houses are?! Yeah. You do NOT want to have a tire blowout while speeding down a freeway. Choosing the right tire is the first step, but taking care of your tires is the follow-up piece that will protect you and others on the road. So here are a few tips to help you with that!
Cover your tires.
Tiny houses live outside. This means that your tires are constantly exposed to the elements. It might not seem like a big deal, but weather elements (and sunlight in particular!) wreak havoc on tires. This is why it's essential to find a way to protect them.
The simplest solution is to purchase tire covers. These are little slip-on covers that protect tires from water and UV rays. They are widely available and much cheaper than constantly buying new tires. So if you were looking for a fast and relatively inexpensive solution, we'd recommend going this route.
If you're going to be parked somewhere for a while, however, there are ways to jazz things up a bit! Tiny
home dwellers have been known to protect their tires in all kinds of creative ways! We've seen people block them with skirting, cover them with trellises, or even build decks around them to keep the elements at bay.
Park on a solid surface.
Not all surfaces are created equal, and your tiny house tires will know the difference! There are a number of things you can park on, but in general, you'll want to park on as hard and smooth of a surface as you can.
The best options for tiny house parking pads include concrete slabs or pavers. But in a pinch, even putting some lumber down will benefit you. Whatever you do, just keep your tires off dirt! Dirt is porous, and the moisture it can retain is bad news.
Oh, and as for parking on gravel, well, you can do it, but your tiny house tires will definitely be happier on something smoother!
Inspect and replace regularly.
How often should you replace your tires? Well, that depends on what you put your tires through. This is why it's important to regularly inspect your tiny tires for signs of damage. Are there blisters in the rubber? Or cracks anywhere? How worn are the treads? Is the wear even?
Any of the things listed above can be signs that your tires aren't what they used to be. If your house will be parked for a while, you don't need to run out and buy new tires at the first sign of wear, but definitely do what you can to mitigate further damage. However, if you plan to move your house, please ensure that your tires are up to the task!
Alright, well, that's all for now, folks! Special thanks to Tracy at Trailer Made for sharing her expertise, and thanks to you for joining us here on the Great American Tiny House Show blog! Make sure you bookmark this page because the party continues next week.
See you then!
Just a quick safety PSA:
In researching this article, the topic of camper trailers (and the tires that accompany them) came up. Many people try to save money by building a tiny house on a camper trailer, but this is almost always a bad idea. Traditional housing materials are much heavier than those used for camper build
s, and so camper trailers or tires are unlikely to safely support the weight of a completed, furnished tiny house. Please don't put yourself (or others!) at risk by building on an insufficient foundation.