Introduction: Tiny Traveling Tea House (II)
I built the first Tiny Traveling Tea House in 2015. It was based on Tiny House Japan by Tagami Haruhiko.
The problem I had was that hauling that trailer around was a chore. In addition, the 5x10 foot trailer didn't allow for a true square shape required for a Tea House.
So now I have built Tiny Traveling Tea House (II)! This tiny backyard Teahouse can be built on a limited budget and can be transported by truck - without a trailer!
Cost: I will give an estimate of the cost per each step. It will cost up to $800, maybe more, depending on your choices.
If you have any questions about this build, please email me here or by emailing Docwyoming@gmail.com
Step 1: Build Your Floor
We start by building four pallets. You will choose the type of wood and size of the pallet that makes sense for you.
I chose 40 inch by 4 foot pallets using cedar wood. I had this wood available from my last Tea House build. Cedar is light, naturally bug resistant and beautiful.
The connecting wood for the pallet was just pine.
Make sure to use a water seal, like Thompson's water seal. I used clear seal as the wood was already beautiful.
You will notice that some of the wood is daker. I used Shou Sugi-ban - purposeful burning of the wood. This add beauty and protect against insects.
The cost of this step was likely $200 dollars. Alternatives would be to use pre existent pallets or to find black, plastic pallets... they would have made a great floor but I couldn't find any!
Step 2: Build Your Posts
I used 2 8-foot cedar posts, already finished, that I found at a Lowes. They swear that they don't sell this item and I haven't seen them since!
You can find unfinished ones for about 20 dollars each.
I cut them down to 46 inch high pieces then placed a bolt in the post and a screw holder into the pallet. I found these at Rockler's, but any higher end wood working store would have them.
Water seal the posts for a grand total of about $50 dollars for this step.
If I were to try this again I would likely have cut the 8-foot posts directly in half, then cut 44 inch high posts from each half. I would have then set the left over pieces (about 2 inches high or so) directly into the pallets and placed the screw holder into them rather than directly into the pallets. This would have allowed me to avoid scratching up the pallets each time I screw/unscrew the posts.
When you have the posts screwed into the pallets, you should have a set up as shown in the fourth picture. Other suggestions: you may wish to attach a beam between each post for greater integrity/strength. I used the walls that we will build in the next step as the supports instead.
The last two pictures show some of the things you can attach to your posts.... The top is a latch to hold down the roof, the second is a holder for lights.
Step 3: Build Your Walls
The walls were made from cedar wood, 1x2 by 8 feet long. The dimensions of the walls were 46 inches high to match the posts, and 78 inches long. The actual cuts for the wood are: outer pieces were 46 inches high, the top pieces were 76 1/2 inches (to allow for the 1 1/2 inches of the width of the outer parts) and the 5 inner pieces I cut were 44 1/2 inches. (Be sure to use a thin screw or nails - as well as glue if you prefer.)
This will give us a 6 1/2 foot square room - not quite large enough for the 4 1/2 mats that make up the smallest 'officially sized' Tea Houses, (The ideal floor size of a chashitsu is 4.5 tatami mats) but good enough for two people to have tea. (Also, we won't have a second smaller room for tea preparation!)
As you might see from the close-up, I didn't even try to make cut outs of the wood to have them interlock, I merely cut a number of 12-inch strips and then connected them to the vertical pieces. Place screws at an angle to achieve this. Placing screws at an angle is easy - you drill the screw in at a 90-degree angle (the usual way you use screws) but for only a few turns, then, merely adjust the screw by hand to the angle you want.
Cover this with a clear water seal (cedar is already beautiful) and then staple mosquito netting across the wall. I chose white netting with the hopes of giving the walls a real Japanese Tea House look.
The walls can be attached to the post in various non-permanent ways. The manner I used was a hook and eye door latch. These can be adjusted by turning the eye/receiving piece upward or downward as needed. You might get away with using one just the top.
Cost per wall $45 dollars.
Alternatives: You might wish to try using white coroplast... it would make the walls appear just like a real tea house wall....
Another option: you may wish to make your third wall, the back wall, as I did, by using cedar boards. These boards were again taken from my previous Tea House build. The inside allowed me to place some nice looking shou sugi ban cedar boards and a place for the tea house wall art. The boards have brass pieces that fold out for shelves. These pieces were actually box hinges found at a Home Depot, very cheap.
Finally, the cedar boards were Shou Sugi Ban prepared on the outside. You can see that in the last picture. I demonstrate how to do this in my Tiny Traveling Tea House (I) video.
Step 4: Start Building Your Roof
There are three parts to the roofing for the house. The first part assumes a nice, cloudless day or night in good weather.
You will build two screens to serve as the fair weather roof or the support for the all purpose roof. The two screens are easier to manage for travel.
They are both 8 feet wide. The first is 8 foot by 47 inches, the second 8 foot by 39 1/2 inches.
Why such odd choices? The first screen was built as the screen for my last Traveling Tea House, so I reused it. :) The second one was built to fit the remaining space.
You need not follow this of course. And you may choose a different set of dimensions for your build. So, for the length of your screens, merely measure the space from the back edge of the back posts to the front end of the front posts and use this as your overall dimension for your two screens. For the width, you can extend past the posts. You can see how I did this in the pictures.
I do suggest building one longer than the other, however, because the larger one will be used to support an 8-foot long board with a hole cut out in its center. The board I used was 5 1/2 inches wide.
This board will be used in step two of our roofing.
I suggest shou sugi ban for the screens - prior to stapling your screens onto them of course!
Cost: $40-50 per screen. You can buy a roll of four-foot high screen from any hardware store.
Step 5: Roof - Second Level
We are not done with the roof for two reasons.
1) Sun protection
2) Rain protection!
The screen is great on starry nights or pleasant days, but otherwise, you will need two more parts to your roof.
The first is a tarp... this will be one of the cheaper elements of your build. In fact, you may wish to buy an 8 foot by 10-foot tarp to rest your pallets on (Unless you go with plastic pallets) and then a larger one to cover your Tea House when rain threatens and you don't have the time/will power to disassemble it. I would suggest a large tarp - something that would hang down the sides as well as cover the tarp. I used a 10 by 14-foot tarp. You will also need something underneath the tarp to give it an angle - that will ensure that the tarp does not collect water on the roof. Currently, I use left over plastic roofing but inflatable pool toys would make a light and cheap way of ensuring that the tarp has a high center for water to run down. Tie the tarp down to the pallets tightly, and water will just run down!
The second part is more fun: I purchased a Pagoda Umbrella... then, I simply cut off the supporting pole. The umbrella's integrity remains without the pole - a nice surprise. You can open it by simply turning it upside down.
You install it thusly: Place the back screen on the house first. Then, place the cedar board mentioned in the last step across the back screen along the center of the roof. Then, turn the umbrella upside down to open it, grab it as the center and walk right up to place it. It was very light without the pole.
You may find that the umbrella does not sit 'straight' into the hole. Take a look at picture 4 above, you can see I had that problem. There are a few ideas as to how to secure it.
One would be to mount some plastic piping around the center hole on the board. This could extend up the support brackets on the umbrella. An industrious builder might even cut eight slots into it to hold each umbrella support.
What I ended up using was 4-inch metal support brackets - L shaped. I had two holding the umbrella to the front of the Tea House and two holding it back. That was strong. In addition, it allowed me to further hold the umbrella with clips - or if I chose - rope. It was able to hold up to a Florida storm.
Finally, unless you choose a waterproof backyard umbrella, you will need to water seal it - Thompson makes a sprayable type, Joann's sells these as well! Now you have a 'masculine' or 'feminine' choice.... although the product I bet is identical! I ended up using a high-grade waterproof seal.
EDIT: As you can see in the final pictures, I bought a larger Pagoda Umbrella that covers the entire Tea House!
The three-tiered Pagoda umbrella, along with the screen, gives the Tea House a nice four-tier roof, sun protection, and some light rain protection. Cost: $88.35 with shipping
But wait... there's more.
The last picture shows a possible alternative based on your taste. I used Ondura roofing which I already had from my last build. This choice would be expensive and heavy seeing as these sheets sell for 20 dollars each. You'd need 8 of them, possibly more depending on the size of your build. In addition, you'd likely have to cut them down in length as they are over 6 feet long.
Finally, you'd have to build portable roof trusses as you can see in the final picture. These are simple to build, you merely need to cut two centerpieces each at an angle for the "King Post." two 'top chords' and a bottom chord. Look up 'roof trusses' on google for what these terms are or just email me at email@example.com.
I tend to go back and forth over which I prefer.... you could also just place one Ondura sheet on each side of the front of your building... it still gives the same effect! You might also go with cheaper plastic roofing, but I would imagine this would not be as beautiful...
Participated in the
Outside Contest 2017
5 years ago
That's an adorable idea! It would be awesome to have in the summer evenings :)
5 years ago
interesting concept. Movable structures always have issues, which do you think has been your biggest PITA so far in building/using this structure?
Reply 5 years ago
Hi, thanks for your question.
The first problem was predictable: separting your foundation/floor into 4 pieces means that your floor will be uneven unless the ground is fairly flat. This problem could be solved by resting the pallets on 8 foot long 4x4s, but that adds to what you have to carry around, reducing the "traveling" aspect of the teahouse.
The second problem are the screw in posts: I rushed this part. I think it might be improved by having the posts screw into blocks attached to the pallet, with the screw holders secured in place better than they are now. The issues now are that the posts are scratching up the pallet and the screw holders are unscrewing from the pallet with repeated use.
I plan on doing an update as I created a doorway for the front using a piano hinge.