SIPS

Exceptional SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) Construction Techniques Elevate Historic Shingle-Style Home

Foreword by Ian Thompson, Editor

Welcome to another issue of The Build Review, where we bring you a closer look at the innovative world of design and construction. Today, we take you on a site visit with construction experts Matt Risinger and Wade Paquin. We’ll explore a shingle-style house nestled in the historic Jamestown, Rhode Island, where traditional style meets modern construction techniques.

This WKP design-build project is a paradigm of New England architecture, featuring a shingle exterior and cedar detailing. However, what truly sets it apart is what lies beneath the shingles, showcasing the meticulous preparation and trim work by Wade and his project manager, Joe.

Interestingly, this house also represents the first-time implementation of a unique style of SIPS (Structural Insulated Panels) construction. SIPS are essentially a sandwich of insulation and structure, and the way they have been utilized in this house offers an innovative take on this construction method.

The project is a design-build all in house design build with Joe playing a dual role – he designed the house and now he’s on site project managing it. The house is a site built SIPS house and instead of the typical delivery of SIPS panels to the site with insulation and sheathing on the inside, here, a traditional stick frame house was built and the insulation was applied on the outside, creating the sandwich effect.

One of the key advantages of using ZIP-R in this project is the continuous WRB (Weather Resistive Barrier) on the exterior of the house, along with an additional layer of insulation. This ‘jacket’ on the outside of the house provides an impressive level of thermal comfort, a vital consideration given the chilly Rhode Island weather.

This introduction, however, only scratches the surface of what you can expect from this site visit. From the unique use of ZIP-R, a product typically installed over studs, to the complex shingle detailing and more, this project is a testament to the possibilities of modern construction techniques by a well organised building team.

So, sit back and prepare to delve into the creative world of construction with Matt and Wade, as they pull back the curtain on this iconic New England style home, revealing the innovative techniques and materials that make it stand out.

Exceptional SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) Construction Techniques Elevate Historic Shingle-Style Home

Video Transcript

I’m Matt Risinger, and I’m Wade Pacquin. Wade, this is a beautiful house. Where are we?

We are in beautiful and historic Jamestown, Rhode Island. Oh man, I love the shingle style, and I suspect this house behind me is going to be really iconic New England style, doesn’t it?

Absolutely. You know how we build them – a lot of shingles, a lot of Cedar. I love it. So, this is a WKP design-build project. Wade and I have been friends for a long time, and we’ve been shooting videos on Build Show Network. But on this video, I want to focus on two things:

Wade’s doing a shingle style in this house, but I think what’s behind the shingles is really interesting. And the prep and the trim work that both Wade and his project manager, Joe, have done here are very interesting, very different. As well as this is probably the first time I’ve seen this style of SIPS construction. Have you heard of SIPS – structural insulated panels?

Right, it’s a sandwich basically of some insulation and some structure. They’ve done it in this house that I think is a really interesting and new way. Let’s jump in detail, shall we? Let’s do it, man.

Today’s Build Show from Rhode Island, let’s get going. All right, Wade, introduce us to Joe, and tell us about this project.

So Joe is um one of our project managers and does some design work for us. So this is a design build all in house design build. Joe’s designed this thing from the get-go and now he’s on site project managing it. So it’s a really nice uh hybrid combination to have all that work that goes into the design side and then have that knowledge to be able to execute it as a project manager.

That’sreally cool now Joe, this is a site built sips house but when I say sips to you as a builder what what do most Builders think of when I think of sips? 

Typically a sips panel is you know delivered to the site sheathing on one side insulation and sheathing on th einside or sometimes uh like a blue skin board on the inside and it’s spanning from structural member to structural member. In this case here we built a traditional stick frame house and I’ve applied the insulation the outside.

So we’re still creating that sandwich effect but it’s it’s happening at our CDX as our Shear panel and then our insulation on the outside. That doesn’t have to be treated as an insulation that allows us to be more flexible with our trim details and our whole structure of our house.

 Yeah I like that. So last time I was here Wade, the house was full CDX on the outside looked like other framed house that I might build in Texas where you’re going to maybe put a a house wrap over the top. But instead, you guys then went with ZIP-R on the outside of that. What’s the benefits of using ZIP-R as your kind of site-built SIPS in your mind?

Well, I mean, I think it really starts with the prefabricated wall panels, right? So, these are wall sections that come with studs and sheathing on it that we’re putting in place. So, your sheathing was on too. I forgot about that. The sheathing was already on, so that was done in a controlled environment, in a factory, right?

So, we had all these wall panels pre-assembled, brought out here, and all the walls on the first floor went up in a day. So, we talked about this before, right? Very efficient, quick system.

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But because of where we are in Rhode Island and the wind zone here, we can’t just use the ZIP-R on our studs. We need the shear, so it doesn’t give us the shear. So, you really know two things, right? We’re using the prefabricated wall panel system because there’s a lot of pros to that, and we’re getting the shear for that with that CDX. And now we’re able to put this ZIP-R, which is what, an inch and a half of foam behind that ZIP panel? So, this is R9.

Yeah, got it. This is an R9. So, now we’ve got a continuous WRB on the outside of the house, plus we’re getting, as you’ve talked about, we’re putting a jacket on the outside of the house with that insulation. I love that.

I mean, on a cold day like today, it makes a lot of sense to me, right? If I’m cold, do I want to stuff the insulation in between my ribs, or do I want to put a big jacket on? And that’s what you guys have done on this house, in effect. But what’s interesting is you’ve used that ZIP-R product, which a lot of builders put right over the studs, and you’ve used that in a place that I mean, it’s calm today, and it’s a 30 mph wind off the water.

You know, it’s 40 degrees, but I’m freezing out. It’s cold here for me as a Texan, so having that full blanket of insulation on the outside of the house, plus the nail base, really makes a difference.

And it’s funny when I pulled up here, the guys were taking two squares out of the ZIP-R, and you can see them taped now. Walk me through what’s happening back there, Joe. What did they do that for?

Our reason for that is just continuous blocking for any hangers or fasteners that are going to that structure. Our ZIP actually doesn’t allow you, or the code doesn’t allow you to put a fastener through the insulation because you’re essentially using that as a lever. So, you’ve got to get that continuous blocking all the way through to get your proper fastening. Makes sense.

So, on your porch here, by the way, you have some beautiful hot-dip galvanized posts there that will last a long time. You probably have a connection beam coming back, so they solid block that. And so, yeah, we’ve got one small amount of thermal bridge happening there, but for the most part, 99% of the exterior of your shell here has that full insulation.

Exactly, yeah. Beautiful.

Now, one thing that I always find fascinating about shingles and particularly the houses you guys do is I see this flare detail on a lot of your houses that couldn’t have been easy to do with this ZIP-R on the outside. What, how do you do that?

So, the all the ZIP-R panels go up first, right? So, you have that continuity on the panel. Oh, and then that’s applied later, applied after to that. Oh, that’s pretty cool. So, in other words, where we see that flare, the shingles will flare out.

You’ve got kind of like a belt line around the house almost, and all that’s applied after that ZIP-R is on to make that detail still continuous for insulation, but have the nail base like you need, right? So, we’ve got our continuous WRB, and then we’re applying that flare and that belt band or belt – there’s different terms you could use for that – to the panel.

I like that. So, last time I was here, Wade, the house was full CDX on the outside, looked like another framed house that I might build in Texas, where you’re going to maybe put a house wrap over the top. But instead, you guys then went with ZIP-R on the outside of that. What’s the benefits of using ZIP-R as your kind of site-built SIPS in your mind?

Well, I mean, I think it really starts with the prefabricated wall panels, right? So, these are wall sections that come with studs and sheathing on it that we’re putting in place. So, your sheathing was on too. I forgot about that.

The sheathing was already on, so that was done in a controlled environment, in a factory, right? So, we had all these wall panels pre-assembled, brought out here, and all the walls on the first floor went up in a day. So, we talked about this before, right? Very efficient, quick system.

But because of where we are in Rhode Island and the wind zone here, we can’t just use the ZIP-R on our studs. We need the shear, so it doesn’t give us the shear. So, you really know two things, right?

We’re using the prefabricated wall panel system because there’s a lot of pros to that, and we’re getting the shear for that with that CDX. And now we’re able to put this ZIP-R, which is what, an inch and a half of foam behind that ZIP panel? So, this is R9.

Yeah, got it. This is an R9. So, now we’ve got a continuous WRB on the outside of the house, plus we’re getting, as you’ve talked about, we’re putting a jacket on the outside of the house with that insulation. I love that. I mean, on a cold day like today, it makes a lot of sense to me, right? If I’m cold, do I want to stuff the insulation in between my ribs, or do I want to put a big jacket on?

And that’s what you guys have done on this house, in effect. But what’s interesting is you’ve used that ZIP-R product, which a lot of builders put right over the studs, and you’ve used that in a place that I mean, it’s calm today, and it’s a 30 mph wind off the water. You know, it’s 40 degrees, but I’m freezing out. It’s cold here for me as a Texan, so having that full blanket of insulation on the outside of the house, plus the nail base, really makes a difference.

And it’s funny when I pulled up here, the guys were taking two squares out of the ZIP-R, and you can see them taped now. Walk me through what’s happening back there, Joe. What did they do that for?

Our reason for that is just continuous blocking for any hangers or fasteners that are going to that structure. Our ZIP actually doesn’t allow you, or the code doesn’t allow you to put a fastener through the insulation because you’re essentially using that as a lever. So, you’ve got to get that continuous blocking all the way through to get your proper fastening. Makes sense.

So, on your porch here, by the way, you have some beautiful hot-dip galvanized posts there that will last a long time. You probably have a connection beam coming back, so they solid block that. And so, yeah, we’ve got one small amount of thermal bridge happening there, but for the most part, 99% of the exterior of your shell here has that full insulation.

Exactly, yeah. Beautiful.

Now, one thing that I always find fascinating about shingles and particularly the houses you guys do is I see this flare detail on a lot of your houses that couldn’t have been easy to do with this ZIP-R on the outside. What, how do you do that?

So, the all the ZIP-R panels go up first, right? So, you have that continuity on the panel. Oh, and then that’s applied later, applied after to that. Oh, that’s pretty cool. So, in other words, where we see that flare, the shingles will flare out.

You’ve got kind of like a belt line around the house almost, and all that’s applied after that ZIP-R is on to make that detail still continuous for insulation, but have the nail base like you need, right? So, we’ve got our continuous WRB, and then we’re applying that flare and that belt band or belt – there’s different terms you could use for that – to the panel.

And Joe, what’s the trim that I’m seeing there that kind of light tan-looking trim? What is that that we’re seeing?

We’re using True Exterior actually throughout the whole house and all our crown, corner boards, window casings. So, that’s that was like Royal Building Products, True Exterior that I’ve seen you guys use a lot over the years. Uh, works great in this climate, no issues with salt, no issues with being close to the coast.

But what’s interesting is, for instance, on this belt line, it looks like there’s a shadow behind that. Like, that trim is brought out. What’s the purpose of that?

So, we pad out our trim belt, and we also do that in many areas, actually at the rakes and eaves, so that that shingle course can tuck right underneath there, and you’re not getting that – you know, that shingle detail where it’s butting to the underside of that trim. We’re trying to allow that space so that we can get that cleaner detail.

So, you’ve got the quarter inch for the home slicker, your rain screen, okay? So, you’ve got the rain screen, then your shingle on top of that. So, by the time you layer up those shingles and you get that last 18 inches of coursing, if you didn’t plan for that, then that last shingle that’s cut, that’s might be four or five inches of shingle exposure.

The last row it would butt to that band board instead of tucking underneath. Oh, that makes sense. So, it’s a much cleaner look. Yeah, that looks really nice.

And I’ve noticed you’ve got some mill work on the outside that looks like it’s that same product, some crown mold and some built up around the windows. Do you guys mill that on-site, or how do you get those products?

So, we actually work with a company, Duration, that receives the True Exterior product and mills it down. In some cases, they have to laminate to get thicker layers to get it to work. But they provide a whole catalog of profiles as well as can do custom profiles for you as well.

That’s pretty neat. If anyone’s looking to use the product, contact Duration. Talk to Keith. He jumps right on it. He gets it done for it. He’s amazing.

Cool. I’ll put a link to them in the description below. But tell me, Joe, I see some white trim, and then some trim that looks like it’s still the primer. What’s going on with that? I suspect there’s a reason behind that.

So, you’re referring to the window casing and then our belt trim as the Delta. So, what we like to do is we’ll have our windows basically built on the ground to the size they need to be, paint them on-site, so that everything is, you know, one step ahead, and then we assemble it up there.

So, you have a painted edge that that shingle is going to butt up to because your shingles are going to gray out. You’re not going to paint those shingles, right? So, cutting back on that paint.

Got it. And then you get expansion of shingles if you don’t do it properly. You’re going to start seeing edges that you didn’t paint. That makes sense over time. But there’s no issue necessarily with that True Exterior product breaking down. It’s really more of a visual issue, right? It’s not that you have to have it primed because you’re worried about water absorption. It’s really an aesthetic issue.

Got it. And also, you want to probably avoid caulking in those locations because if you do, you’re going to have to Reco it.

Yeah, that’s one area that we don’t want to, yeah, makes a lot of sense.

Now, Wade, this flashing that I’m seeing here at the water table, is that the right term? What is that? I love that kind of grayish color.

Yeah, so you’re looking at lead-coated copper there, pre-bent to the size and little pitch that we need. And then that front edge is called a hemmed edge, so it gives a nice clean look. So, it’s bent over, so you don’t have a cut edge exposed. So, now your shingles will just drop down on that, and any water that got behind there will get kicked out.

Yes, so you have the rain screen or home slicker behind it and the shingles, so any water that does get behind there will come out, hit the top of that flashing, and kick out over the water table.

Yeah, and probably, Joe, you’re still going to put a piece of tape on that, I suspect, just to make sure that water kicks out of there.

Yeah, that’ll get flashing tape, yeah. Yeah, that’s really nice.

This is actually a good example of opportunities where we’re, you know, doing design-build. We’re trying to, you know, we’re working with a budget, we’re working with a schedule, and working with opportunities to bring in higher-level details at, you know, at the level that you’re touching things, not so much up high that you can really kind of experience that a lot better.

Yeah, that lead-coated copper, I’ve seen your jobs a lot. It just looks so good seeing that stick out. And I think the difference between the painted True Exterior and the shingles that will gray out overtime, that’s such a quintessential New England look.

You know, you can go to any state in America and see a modern farmhouse, but only here in New England, specifically Rhode Island, will you see this style. Guys, nice work. Thanks, appreciate it, really, really appreciate it, boys. Good, good stuff.

Guys, if you want to see their work on a more daily basis, go check out WKP’s Instagram. We’ll put that right below. And if you want to get more tips on this style of construction, building on the coast, I’ll put a link to his page on the buildshow.com below. I

f you’re not currently a subscriber, hit that subscribe button below. We’ve got new content here every Tuesday and every Friday. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram. Otherwise, we’ll see you next time on the Build Show.

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