3 Benefits of SIPs Framing vs Traditional Studs
by Ian Thompson Editor
Despite being around for nearly a century, Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) remain a relatively unknown concept to many design and building professionals. To me, this is surprising given their proven track record for efficiency and cost-effectiveness. However, as with any building system, there are building rules you have to apply to reap those rewards. The most important one being constructing a level and accurate foundation for your SIPs to sit on. That’s obvious, right? Well, you’ll be surprised how many foundations are not level and true, which are SIPs’ Achilles heel. But get this right and you’re onto a winner!
If you’ve found yourself wondering what exactly a SIP is, how it can save you money and time, or how it can produce a superior highly insulated and strong building, Matt’s video, though quite a few years old now, is a good starting point.
Matt demystifies their design, benefits, and usage. Despite being invented in the 1930s, SIPs are commonplace in Europe, but have only recently started to gain significant traction in the U.S. Matt provides a comprehensive understanding of why this is the case.
So, join us as Matt takes us on an insightful journey exploring the benefits and practicalities of building with SIPs. If you’re interested in efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective construction methods, this is a video you can’t afford to miss.
We’re talking today about building with SIPs panels.
We got a truckload of SIPs panels delivered today for our roof on the SIPs house behind me, and I thought this would be a great time to take a break and talk about why we like SIPs, how it works, and what are the benefits of framing with SIPs.
So first of all, SIPs stands for Structural Insulated Panels. This is not a new system to frame a house; it was actually invented in the 1930s. But I feel like it’s only been recently that it’s really taken off in popularity in America. Of course, that’s driven by energy codes and the ability to build a really well-insulated and airtight house with SIPs construction.
This is basically a big jigsaw puzzle that the framers put together on-site. There are three big benefits to building with SIPs. Number one is cycle time. You know, we’re going to end up framing this house about 50 percent faster than a typical house, so we’re going to build this a lot faster. We’re going to spend a little bit more for the SIPs panels and for the package, but we’re going to save some labor time on this house.
Number two, of course, is insulation. The SIPs panel is made from two sheets of OSB, one on the top and one on the bottom, and in the center is glued together on both of those EPS foam. That’s expanded polystyrene that’s about R-3.6 per inch. And that whole panel, because it’s glued together, is a structural panel. We still have some two-by-fours on these SIPs panels, but much, much less than we would if this was stick framing and certainly less even if it was advanced framing. So we’ve got a nice thick blanket of insulation.
The other big benefit of that insulation is it’s in all the right places. If you look at this garage here that already has the roof on, our panels on the wall go straight into our roof panels. We don’t have rafters sticking out or other things that are really hard to detail from an airtightness or an insulation perspective. We’re able to run our weather barrier and our air barrier all the way up the walls and continue up the roof, so we can make a very well-insulated shell.
And the third benefit, I already alluded to, is airtightness. A SIPs house can be so much tighter because of this type of construction than a traditional house that really has some tricky airtightness details. If you look at the foundation behind me here, we’re going to tape that joint between the concrete and the SIPs panels, and then we’re going to run a continuous peel-and-stick house wrap up the walls, over the roof, and all the way back down again, no breaks.
Look for a future video. We’re going to be using Cosella-Dörken’s Delta-VENT SA. That’s a sticky house wrap that not only does a great job of weather barrier but also provides a great air barrier on this house.
Because we’re building with such good insulation in such airtight construction, we’ve got a lower HVAC load on this house. If you’re going to build a SIPs house, I highly recommend you get an HVAC engineer to actually design your system. Don’t have your mechanical contractor or the dealer run the Manual J, that’s your load calculations. You want to get somebody who’s familiar with SIPs to do that. They’re really going to properly size the house because a house like this, we could probably easily go down one or maybe even two tons in HVAC load compared to a traditionally built house.
External Youtube Post: How Structural Insulated Panels Work by Bailey Line Road