The Do’s & Don’ts Of Building A Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) Home

The making and usefulness of Structural Insulated Panels today are largely credited to the genius of Alden B. Dow, a student of famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. After his apprenticeship with the latter, Dow started on his own, working on what the world now knows as Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs).

Dow created an innovation that made walls, ceilings, and floors all be constructed out of engineered panel, called SIPs. Such panels can help muster a building structure that’s long-lasting, powerful, and efficient in terms of energy consumption. They’re considered an effective alternative to traditional paneling methods that use conventional framing lumber and insulation.

On SIP Installation And Sealing Requirements
On SIP Installation And Sealing Requirements

Insulated panels offer homeowners several benefits, including comfort and protection. These panels are designed to survive severe weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall, strong winds, and snowfall in regions that experience winter. Also, another great thing about SIPs is that they require little maintenance.

There are many manufacturers and brands of SIPs these days, such as Raycore. Thus, you should only purchase panels whose reliability and durability are known facts in the industry.

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) For Modern Homes

Many experienced engineers and building contractors consider these insulation panels beneficial to modern homes. SIPs are made up of an insulation layer made of rigid foam that’s sandwiched between two surfaces. Because of this, they’re significantly better than conventional building materials in terms of energy efficiency.

They’re more effective at regulating temperatures, ensuring that home interiors remain comfortably cool during the summer, and assisting in maintaining warmth or heat during the winter. The insulation also helps reduce the amount of noise that can penetrate the building. Along with foam sealing that connects them, these panels become highly effective at keeping homes quiet and away from the disturbing humdrum of city life that may disrupt a good night’s rest.

However, the reality is that building a home with SIPs can be burdensome. It’s big-time planning from day one. It’s not an afterthought, nor decided on a whim. Planning with your engineer in advance will help you put into effect the ideal structural superiority, energy efficiency, eco-friendliness, and ease of constructing your interior and exterior walls through the structural insulation panels

Suppose you’re one of those planning to use these panels in your home construction. In that case, it’s best to get as many calculations and information as possible. Read on for the list of things you can and can’t do when dealing with SIPs.

1. On SIP Storage And Organization

  • DO Keep SIPs Adequately Protected And Organized

SIPs require some organization standards to maintain their usability. These panels need to be on a ground level and stacked efficiently to display their label so they can be pulled out easily. They need to be kept covered and lying flat while in storage, with adequate support. It’s to prevent them from sagging, and avoiding cracks and dents. 

The SIP installation processes can be more efficient if these panels are properly stored and can be easily sorted out.

  • DON’T Leave The Panels Unprotected

Your SIPs shouldn’t be lying flat on the ground without proper protection. Moisture and pests on the ground are threats that may affect the durability of your panels. Instead, you can store them in an even area, which should not be more than three inches off the ground. It’s vital that your SIPs aren’t left in an open area and exposed to the  weather elements for extended periods without adequate covering.

2. On Structural Insulated Panels Planning And Installation

  • DO Plan Your SIP Installation Layout Properly

Make a systematic plan for the piping, electrical, and other devices’ wirings provision. SIPs are, sometimes, custom-made to the project’s specifications. Provision for electrical wirings and conduits has to be prepared long before the bills of materials are made.

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)
Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)

Moreover, it’s important to determine during the design phase whether or not the installation of the panels will require the use of any specialized tools or equipment. For one, a forklift or a crane may be required for the handling and installation if the project calls for roof panels, wall panels, or floor panels that are larger than the standard regular sizes. 

  • DON’T Delay The Planning

Avoid skipping the whole plan for later to avoid the time-consuming and occasionally expensive modifications and adjustments required during the installation of the SIPs. The panels’ facings shouldn’t be sliced horizontally to belatedly create a way for the electrical wiring system. Doing so will weaken and diminish the efficacy of the structure.

Also, SIP facings and excavations shouldn’t result in an overcut to avoid extra hollows due to field-cut apertures. Utilize the chases that were provided by the manufacturers in the SIP core to provide a snug fitting. You shouldn’t be scared to trim panels in the field to get an ideal fit.

  • DO Size Up Your HVAC System

Ensure that the contractor for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system provides an estimate that’ll considerably lower the infiltration of air into your home enclosure. The HVAC system should be used to its full advantage and its efficacy should be reinforced by your SIPs. It shouldn’t lead to short cycling. Efficient energy use should be planned and ensured to avoid high maintenance costs.

  • Don’t Underestimate SIP Properties

Consider the high insulating and air sealing properties of structural insulated panels when choosing an HVAC system for your home construction. It’ll add efficiency and comfort if these SIPs are installed, complementing a more compact HVAC system and keeping home temperatures more conducive and comfortable whatever the season.

Furthermore, it’s recommended that plumbing be installed on the inner walls. For more convenience, fur out the inside parts for the pipes. Appropriate ventilation must be provided to preserve the air quality within. When required to do so, you should utilize materials resistant to mold and termites.

3. On Installation And Sealing Requirements

  • DO Handle SIPs Properly

SIPs should be lifted facing down to protect their top side. Handle them with care and avoid dropping them or subjecting their corners to avoid dents and other types of damage. Also, SIPs shouldn’t be installed directly on concrete, if at all possible.

  • DO Reinforce Full Support During Installation And Sealing

There’s a need to reinforce full support during installation and the sealing processes of SIPs. It’s to avoid water and air seepage in and out of the panels or the wall plate of your home. It’s where the panels slide over. It must be placed at a distance of one centimeter from the edge of the building. Before placing the panels, ensure the plate region is clear of debris. Also, ensure that the panels are installed correctly from the valleys or corners of the structure, then work your way outward. 

  • DON’T Miss The Effective Sealing Procedures

Once the panels have been installed, reduce the amount of air that escapes from the structure after it’s been put up. All panel joints and voids must be appropriately sealed using adhesive, sealant, or SIP tape. Sealant and SIP tape should be stored in a warm area for the best results when applying the products in cold weather.

Also, after the SIPs have been erected and sealed, additional weather protection, like a housewrap, must be used to prevent them from becoming damaged by moisture. Installing the housewrap should be done following the manufacturer’s instructions, maintaining that all penetrations to the panels should be flashed. Over time, like the windows, minor water seepage will eventually develop at the sill. To prevent water from damaging the wall structure, flashing should be installed under and around the units.

Furthermore, always make sure to follow the joint sealing techniques that are specified by the manufacturer. Sealant should be applied along the leading edge of the pieces of wood being put into the panels. It should be used on all connected panels made. When joining roof panels, use panel tape or other sealants that can be an effective vapor barrier.

4. On Foundations And Other Connections

  • DO Ensure Foundation Level

Always ensure that the foundations or floors that support the SIP walls are level and square. Mismatched and inaccurate measurements will result in uneven wall and flooring support. Thus, there must be sufficient bracing for the panels as they’re being installed. Remember to move the sill plate back from the edge of the floor system by a half inch so that the panel board facings will be able to carry their maximum weight.

There are specific cuts for spline connections. Always ensure that the requisite flashing and sealants are installed properly around rough openings or penetrations.

When working on your roof or siding, utilize the appropriate underlayments. SIP walls don’t require housewrap because they’re airtight, although they need drainage plane materials.

  • DON’T Install Lighting System Inside The Panels

Avoid installation of lighting or even a recessed lighting system inside these panels as this may cause fire hazards. Furthermore, SIPs shouldn’t have plumbing installed in them because it’d make it difficult to troubleshoot problems in the long run. In an airtight SIP house, you shouldn’t install or operate any combustion equipment that doesn’t have a vent to avoid fire hazards.

Remember that if the paneling assembly is appropriately constructed as specified, it’ll likely produce a high-performance and durable enclosure. It’ll also provide excellent thermal resistance and airtight enclosure for your home.

Bottom Line – Structural Insulated Panels

You can always ask engineers about SIPs installation to be able to gauge the cost and prepare for all the requirements. Consulting professionals is the best step you could take before you start your home construction using such panels so you won’t waste time and money.