Installing Structurally Insulated Panels

Insulated Panels

Structurally Insulated Panels—(SIPs)

For the last 6 years, the majority of the projects RDC has completed have used SIP construction. Here is some information on what SIPs are and why RDC has gone almost exclusively to building in this manner.

SIPs combine structural framing, insulation, and sheathing in a single product, to be used for roofs, walls, or floors. Structural insulated panels (SIPs) consist of an insulating foam core (EPS or Expanded Polystyrene in the case of the panels used by RDC), sandwiched between an inner and outer face that’s typically made of oriented strand board (OSB). Panels are typically pre-cut and delivered to the site ready for assembly with a crane. Standard thicknesses range from 6 to 12 inches, in lengths up to 28 feet, and widths up to 9 feet.

RDC has partnered with Insulspan SIPs which is another great resource for information on structurally insulated panels.

Insulspan Structural Insulating Panel System

Structurally Insulated Panel Advantages:

  • Speed of Construction – Panels are made in a factory and trucked to the construction site ready for installation. With the help of a crane or a few strong backs, wall sections can be assembled quickly, reducing framing time from weeks or months to a matter of days.
  • Fewer Air Leaks = Better overall Insulation and a more comfortable home and living environment. Unlike conventionally framed walls, SIPs have no wall cavities and therefore, fewer opportunities for energy losses due to internal convection. Continuous insulation means that SIP houses have much less air infiltration than standard framed houses.
  • Reduced Thermal Bridging – Virtually the entire core is insulation. With dimensional lumber significantly reduced, energy losses due to thermal bridging are lower.
  • High R-Values – Standard wall sections are made in thicknesses in excess of 6 inches. When the core is made from polyurethane foam, the wall’s R-value is roughly twice as high as a framed 2×6 wall insulated with fiberglass batts.
  • Great Strength – Bonding the foam to the outer panels creates a strong assembly, not unlike that of an I-beam. Panels are highly resistant to racking and shear loads and can withstand high winds and seismic activity.
  • Less waste – With the use of SIPs, they are factory built and cut to size, so when they’re delivered to site they’re ready to be craned in and installed – this means very little construction waste.  This translates to lower costs as far as waste management goes, and less material overall being purchased.  A typical building site with conventional framing could see from 10 – 25% of the material purchased for the site going into the landfill as off cuts and general waste.

Contact us here at RDC to find out how we could incorporate SIPs into your next building project.

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013