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Q&A: Tiny House Drywall ‘Trick’ Prevents Cracking

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Today, in the comments on this post, Shelby asks, “What kind of interior siding looks like conventional sheet rock — thought that was a no no for tiny house on wheels due to the stress off moving??”

Great question! A lot of people ask about how some builders install drywall on the interior of tiny houses that are built on trailers because they worry that when towing it will cause the interior drywall sheets to crack.

And that’s definitely a smart thing to worry about. When I saw Shelby’s question, I remember reading about a trick to prevent your drywall from cracking… even in a tiny house on wheels.

I learned about this ‘trick’ thanks to Carrie and Shane from Clothesline Tiny Homes. They used this method and it worked. Plus they traveled quite a bit with their tiny home with no issues.

Tiny House Drywall ‘Trick’ Prevents Cracking

Learn how it works below:

So the ‘trick’ is using a product by Trim-Tex called Magic Corner. And here’s what it’s meant to do, “The Magic Corner’s exclusive expansion control eliminates edge cracking on all off-angle walls and vaulted ceilings. For use on any inside corner where movement is an issue to prevent cracking.”

=> Read the original/full post here over at Clothesline Tiny Homes

=> Order Magic Corner by Trim-Tex

Thanks Carrie and Shane for sharing this simple but extremely valuable tip! We really appreciate it!

If you found this tiny house construction tip valuable share it below and join our free daily tiny house newsletter with much more!

This post contains affiliate links.

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 29 comments… add one }
  • jerryd
    July 14, 2014, 8:34 pm

    The question is why use drywall? It’s a cheap product that ends up costly a lot more work as easily damaged by near anything and water.

    It’s also heavy and adds no strength.

    Vs 5mm underlayment, luan , etc plywood panels you can find a good number of for under $15/sheet. I’ve found some great grains ones the yrs. Many time the ‘bad’ side can have beautiful knot designs almost like paisley patterns.

    It’s 50% of the weight, 20x the strength and just 2 simple roll on coats of varnish or paint without all that sanding, mudding, etc.

    Fact is I won’t even use drywall in a foundation home as a messy pain. It’s clear coated or painted, etc paneling glued on for me in any mobile TH.

    • Shauna
      July 15, 2014, 12:15 pm

      I thought code required drywall in a foundation home as a fire retardant. Maybe just in our area. Regardless, tiny homes on wheels do not have such a requirement, but it is a good idea to have some type of fire retardant in such a small space. We used intumescent paint under our wood paneling, which is a good alternative.

    • Troy Sinykin
      July 18, 2014, 10:04 am

      I remodel homes for a living and agree with this post. The magic corner could help but I would stay away from rock because of the weight and the mess of install. There are so many panelized options that look great, can get bounced around a bit and don’t mind water.

    • Sandra
      March 2, 2016, 11:11 am

      My tiny house is partially dry walled and I did get one tiny crack. It has been moved, in its lifetime (fall 2012) about 250 km or 150 miles. Drywall is not at all a cheap product. I think I’d be sick of wood after about a month. As to weight I bought specialty drywall. 3/8″ instead of 1/2 inch. If you want to see the look it’s on this site. Search “could you live in this tiny designer inspired”. You’ll find it. Bottom panels are bead board panels.

      • Gabrielle Charest
        March 2, 2016, 3:38 pm

        No need to get sick of wood or wood paneling since there are so many ways to treat it: paint, whitewash, color wash, stain, antique, sponge, etc. Pinterest has lots of ideas.

    • jamie
      March 2, 2016, 11:38 pm

      ++1,000,000 cheap as in not made for strength. It does have good insulation properties (in a foundation home) but not for the weight penalty.
      Tiles are another thing I will be staying clear of for the same reasons

  • alice h
    July 15, 2014, 12:37 pm

    That works for edges but won’t do much for areas around the screws holding the drywall to the studs. As much as the movement of the studs is supposed to be minimized by shear panels it can still cause problems. A stationary house I once lived in had some settling issues and you could see where the screws were by the crumbling around them. Of course I just plain dislike the stuff because I hate the mudding and sanding. Glued paneling gives a lot of shear strength, much better choice.

  • Jay Olstead
    July 15, 2014, 1:36 pm

    We are building our homes with hybrid aluminum and or galvalume steel skins. The interior skin is available with a wood grain or light sheet rock texture. There is a tight seam every 4 feet, vertical, which is covered over with one coat of elastomeric paint, which is flexible. Then, you have the tradional sheet rock look which can be trimmed out with whatever wood you like, and, perhaps, wainscoating with wood around the bottom. All of your pictures, hooks, shelf brackets, etc, can be attached with magnets.

  • July 15, 2014, 1:41 pm

    For those who like the look, there are several brands of light-weight, 1/2″ drywall available. Apparently, they can be used on every surface (except wet areas) so you don’t need to buy multiple products. Drywall does confer more fire protection than luan and other wood products, if that is a concern. Different strokes for different folks….

    I thought about using it, because the all-pine interiors look suspiciously like coffins to me (heh), but decided against it for reasons like taping and mudding and having to heft it around by myself. Plus, I have a lot of old barn wood from an old barn on my mother’s property that I’m going to use instead. My own little home has a ton of reused, unwanted, and less than perfect materials in it, and drywall just wouldn’t fit in.

    • Lynne
      March 2, 2016, 3:13 pm

      You made me laugh! All wood interiors don’t appeal to me, either. Now I know why. Everytime I see one, I almost feel like I would suffocate in them.

      Lately, I have changed my tastes (which is so like me). I am leaning much more towards a cleaner look (maybe comes from raising four kids, lol), and I especially love mostly white interior. One or two recent postings here were white, and what looked like wood placed horizontally, rather the more typical vertical placing. I’m tired right now, and if my brain was working, I probably could explain better! Or I could find the posts.

      Anyway, painting a wood interior like that, to me, looks terrific.

      I have been wondering if using that much wood adds too much weight to a home one is going to move.

  • Jackie
    July 15, 2014, 4:42 pm

    I would love to hear from others that are using alternatives to sheetrock in their small homes, cause I have a small home I am remodeling and do not want to have to deal with sheet rock, taping and texturing. I like things that look rustic and love old barnwood. Is there something on the market that I can coate the old barn wood with that will help slow down a fire. That is a big concern for me is how fast other products will burn. I also thought of just using corrugated steel on the inside and trim with wood. I just am at a loss with ideas of what to do/

  • July 15, 2014, 6:31 pm

    I agree with jerryd above in his questioning of the use of dry wall in the first place.
    I apologise to those who make a living in the dry wall industry, but it is an element that is over-used and under questioned.
    It’s benefits appear to be simplicity and cost. But when real cost comparisons are made, it is not so simple and can incur hidden costs.
    Plywood, V-joint, wet renders/textures and natural stone hold significantly more aesthetic interest, especially in small spaces where the walls are always close to human eyes.
    Of course dry wall like all materials has its uses but the assumption that it’s cheaper and therefore better deserves a challenge.

  • Dare to be different
    July 15, 2014, 6:52 pm

    When faced with that problem, I opted for 1/4″ plywood for the wall and linoleum for the finishing surface.

    The linoleum has sufficient flex for movement and there are a great selection of available designs for decorating the interior. Easy to clean as well.

      June 21, 2017, 7:29 pm

      Now that’s a dare. Some funky 60’s geometric design popped into my mind. How does it do with condensation, warping and mold.

  • Lantz Newberry
    July 16, 2014, 2:18 am

    A friend of mine who is a professional tape and texture guy used that stuff in my upstairs rooms. The ceilings had 30 degree angles the length of the room on both sides. It made perfectly straight lines. Great stuff but expensive he said. It’s basically two flat pieces of plastic wrapped in drywall paper and has a grooved line down the center and folds like a piano hinge
    I’m with most of you and wouldn’t want drywall in a tiny house.

  • Rich
    August 31, 2014, 9:18 pm

    Anyone concerned about life safety would be wise to read the following two items: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashover and http://cfbt-us.com/wordpress/?p=759. It is the finishes and items contained in a building fuel load) that pose a greater fire danger to occupants. Drywall is often required for fire separation and is rated by the time it takes the fire to heat the structure underneath to ignition temperatures. In a tiny house wtih only one room, drywall might save the structure from total combustion but getting outside is the only thing that will save a life. And the best way to do that to install a carbon monoxide detector and a great big skylight in the loft as Dee Williams has. I’m not convinced that gypsum wall board and tiny houses are compatible.

  • Susanne
    July 10, 2015, 1:21 pm

    With all the problems y’all are mentioning makes ya wonder why it’s being used at all..as stated best to have escape route….:) it appears.
    I’d look into what Olstead is using!!!!

  • E. W.
    August 2, 2015, 8:55 pm

    Hi, I am a new to the the TH movement. It’ fascinating, so I’m in research mode. My question is: are fires common with TH’s? E.W.

  • LoupGarou
    March 2, 2016, 11:01 am

    What about using tounge and groove pine carsiding. brads and liquid nails?

  • Dick
    March 2, 2016, 3:46 pm

    The domain clotheslinetinyhomes.com has expired, but you can still access the blog at clotheslinetinyhomes.wordpress.com.

  • William Suter
    March 4, 2016, 2:34 am

    I worked at the Canadian gypsum plant in Hagersville Ontario. They use sugar to bind the drywall together. Sugar can support mild growth and roaches can live off the sugar contained in the drywall. If you must use drywall for its fire retardant properties I recommend using commercial grade spray foam (purple) at least three inches thick to stiffen the structure. No vapour barrier required and has a remarkable R Value.

  • Tim
    August 19, 2016, 6:18 pm

    I never hear of builders using fireblocks in walls anymore to retard the spread of fire. ( the chimneny effect)
    Are fireblocks still used?

  • Troy
    August 20, 2016, 1:32 am

    I used 1 inch rigid foam on the interior of my tiny house, which I then covered in quarter-inch sheetrock. The problem with thin panels is they are easily warped/distored when attached. The last time I looked at a stack of quarter inch Luan at Lowes it was anything but flat as well. If it buckles due to expansion and contraction, then what? Sheet rock highs and lows can be filled and leveled, and it ultimately results in a much smoother and paintable surface. The 1/4 inch stuff is about 30 pounds a sheet. You have to be careful around Windows and doors not to set your screws to deeply, but adjusting the clutch on your screw gun makes this easy. It takes a light touch to not go through the drywall as well, but so far it has worked well for me.

    The drawback is you need some kind of a rigid backing board, but rigid foam handles this issue nicely, and also provides a nice thermal break to the outside, plus it stays warm to the touch. Here in Alaska we use foam insulation for outhouse toilet seats as it stays warm on the bottom, even at 30 below zero.

    The other thing is with quarter-inch plywood, you have to be much more exact in your cuts. Filling any kind of gaps with plaster is not the same as filling gypsum. Sheetrock is way easier to deal with if your joints do not meet perfectly. You just mud over the imperfections.

  • Susanne
    August 20, 2016, 7:32 am

    It’s stressful seeing y’all disagree on what to use-I wish it wasn’t that complicated- it’s not exactly Rocket Science. I think the best people to answer these type of questions are people who have experience living in(and towing) tiny houses….collecting data from them….

  • jm
    August 22, 2016, 1:45 pm

    If it’s on wheels then no drywall for me. If not on wheels then–maybe. But why use it? Today the open concept is IN. I think it is fire resistant enough (5/8″ 1hr) to allow you to escape–maybe not enough to keep the place from burning down if it is not occupied. Many people have health problems due to outgassing. I like inert or natural materials. Light gauge steel framing, aluminum or stainless sheeting. There is even wool insulation available. Fire can’t hurt it–water can’t hurt it…The outgassing from wood that has been coated with fireproofing can be toxic when burned. FR wood is nasty! Terrible chemicals are used for fireproofing wood. I would just install a sprinkler and have emergency escape doors/windows. Wood interiors can be finished to look like drywall–or anything else.

    Many mobile homes have problems with the floors rotting out. I would choose materials that makes this impossible.

    Kit homes used to be popular. They were easy to build–like erector sets. Just bolts frames together. I wonder if anyone still makes them in the states.

  • Brigitte`
    April 29, 2019, 9:44 am

    There was a student tiny RV builder from Wyoming by the name of Austen. He sold his business, and I wonder if you also build campers tiny as cheap. He sold them from $2000-$3500. I need a red and white one to travel and Workamp. Thanks.

  • Lawrence J Neuser
    March 2, 2021, 8:00 am

    Has anyone ever used Metal studs in building a tiny house?

    • James D.
      March 3, 2021, 1:08 pm

      Yes, many…

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