Structural insulating panels, or SIP panels, are a composite building material used to increase the heat efficiency in your home. SIP construction is a cost effective structural engineering choice for many reasons. It is heat efficient, with a high "R-value," and offers a simple construction method, allowing for lower construction costs. Structural insulated panel (SIP) homes are considered "green homes," or environmental-friendly homes, because of this, but their benefits go well beyond a political benefit.
One of the most sought after aspects of good home construction is energy efficiency. This leads to lower home heating costs and lower cooling costs, which translates into less impact on the environment. SIP homes are an increasingly popular construction method because they allow for efficiency without sacrificing aesthetic. Equally important to the cost of homebuilding is the ease of construction. SIP panels cost less to install than traditional homes.
SIP homes consist of walls made from two layers of structural board with a layer of insulated foam between. These boards are often Oriented Strand Board (OSB) with polyurethane foam or polystyrene foam between. They are factory ready and allow for quick construction. SIP construction combines the internal structure, external structure, and thermal insulation into one piece, simplifying the building process. Because these panels are created in a factory rather than with hammer and nail on site, the joints are more airtight, the seals stronger, and the construction less fickle. SIP panels are also adaptable, and are often used in conjunction with traditional timber frameswhere some walls, or parts of walls, are made in SIP construction.
Structural Insulated Panel History
The first SIP home was built in the 1930s through innovations made by the US Forest Service in an attempt to find alternatives to timber framed homes. While the first home, called a "stress skinned panel home", was dedicated by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and lauded as the future of home construction, it was not until the 1970s that the technology caught up to the dream. Since then SIP construction has gained popularity, and continues to as energy prices rise and people look for more efficient and environmental-friendly, or green homes. Today, in fact, SIP homes are strong enough to replace timber-framed homes entirely.
Build an energy efficient home! Use this link to hire aModular Home Builder
Types of SIP Homes
Many forms of SIP panel have been tested and put in use. There is the stress skinned panel, plywood panel, tempered hardboard panel, and treated paperboard panel. Paperboard seems to work best on the interior of a home, but not an exterior. Plywood skin with polystyrene core has proven efficient and durable. And a newer cement skinned panel board has proven best in the coldest climates where there is less need for the flexibility allowed by a wood-based panel (while in LA, an earthquake might demand more flexibility while not needing extra insulation.)
OSB construction with polyurethane or polystyrene foam is the most popular and efficient of the structural insulated panel homes, but when looking at building material, there should always be a conversation with your contractor or homebuilder. Climate and locale play a strong role in any construction material choice. But with recent advances in SIP homes, you will find that SIP is less expensive than timber frames, equally durable and attractive, and offers you the peace of mind in having an efficient home.