Rising heating costs,
combined with the shortage of skilled
tradesmen, have increased the popularity of
Structural Insulated Panels (SIP's).
Manufactured from high performance rigid
foam and oriented strand board, these panels
are used for floors, walls and roofs. They
are considered environmentally-friendly,
energy-efficient, stronger, quieter and
draft-free compared to conventional stud
framing with common fiberglass insulation.
SIP's use up to 35% less raw timber, there
is less job site waste (less landfill use)
and lower energy consumption.
Proven superior to
inefficient "stick-built" framing methods.
"Continuous" R-15 (4")
and R-24 (6") energy efficiency.
reduces "weather-in" time by up to 40%.
Huge lumber -waste savings.
Earns 7 "Built Green"
environment... there's no hollow space for
mold to grow. Lessen legal risks.
Twice as strong as
"stick-built" (2,950 vs. 1,350 vert.
load/ft.) 160 MPH wind tested.
SIP homes are extremely
tight and quiet. Straight, solid walls
much appreciated by
Certified, insured for
all Colorado applications (ICBO, ASTM,
etc.). No off-gas problems.
Higher margins when
sold as an "Option" in pre-sale
SIP Benefits for Homeowners:
Extremely strong structure.
There is considerable evidence that homes
with SIP wall and ceiling panels have
survived natural disasters like
hurricanes, tornadoes, straight-line winds
and earthquakes better than traditional
stick-framed homes right next door.
Lower energy bills.
Discounting the "human factor"-thermostat
settings and so forth-a number of
side-by-side tests show that between 15%
and 40% less energy should be needed to
heat and cool a home with SIP wall and
ceiling panels. In tests by Oak Ridge
National Laboratory, SIP walls outperform
fiberglass walls by over 50%.
Thanks to extra R-values and tight
construction, the wall and ceiling
surfaces in a SIP home will stay warmer
than in stick-framed homes. The warmer
those surfaces are, the more comfortable
the home is.
What happens if the power goes down?
During the late 1990s, several New England
SIP homes survived over a week without
power or a wood stove and never came close
Indoor Air Quality.
While there is no guarantee here, most
homes built with SIPs are tight enough
that builders can't ignore upgrading
mechanical ventilation compared to that
found in a standard home. In many studies
in North American housing, the best indoor
air quality is found in homes that are
tight and equipped with upgraded
Green building product.
On a life-cycle basis, a more
energy-efficient house built with SIPs
will be less damaging to the environment,
in terms of overall resource consumption.
Much less dimensional lumber is used in a
SIP home than in a traditional framed
Interactive systems benefits:
For example, a more energy-efficient home
may cost slightly more to build but in
turn can be heated and cooled with smaller
equipment that costs less to install.
SIP Benefits for Builders
Speed of construction.
You can order the panels with all
pre-cutting performed in a factory. They
show up on the jobsite all pre-numbered,
ready for assembly corresponding to
numbers laid out on a set of shop
drawings. On most jobs you should be out
of the weather and dried in sooner. Time
A crew can consist of one lead framer
assisted by minimally skilled helpers.
Whenever a job involves craning panels up
to frame a roof, it helps to have two
people familiar with panels: one on the
roof and one on the ground.
Shell installation option.
If you're having a tough time locating
skilled carpenters, a growing number of
manufacturers have regular crews who will
install a shell on your foundation for you
It's easy bracing SIP walls. In fact, once
you have two corner panels up, you can
lean a ladder against the panels when
Less jobsite waste. If you've ordered a set of
panels with all rough openings for windows
and doors pre-cut at the factory, the only
true waste you'll have is taking a few
cases of empty tubes of adhesive caulk
containers to the dump. And the factory
can efficiently collect and recycle their
cut-outs much more effectively than you
can at the job site.
While 2x4s and 2x6s are prone to "walking
off" unsecured job sites, panels are too
specific to the site's building system to
be worth hauling off somewhere else.
While most builders say they pay a little
more for SIPs than for the comparable
framing and insulation package in a
stick-built home, as a group they believe
the benefits are worth the costs. The
amount extra they pay varies; while a few
say it costs them an extra $1 per square
foot of finished floor area, the amount
may be higher when roof panels are used.
However, when roof panels enclose extra
living space in a loft, the price per
square foot is surprisingly competitive.
If at the design stage you optimize a
structure to use panels, the most
experienced SIP builders then say a house
framed with SIPs should cost about the
same as a house framed with comparably
sized dimensional lumber, and maybe even a
Easier to hang drywall.
There is solid backing for all drywall
against exterior walls, which means there
is less cutting, faster attachment and
less waste material.
Fewer framing callbacks.
Wall panels go in plumb, square and
straight. Once in place, a SIP won't warp,
twist or check.
A fair number of small builders report
their marketing efforts have decreased
ever since they started using SIP building