What are SIPs?

28 July 2016

lightweight, quick to build and thermally efficient

SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) are a form of timber frame, offering excellent insulation values and super-fast build speeds.

The lightweight, quick to build and thermally efficient, structural insulated panels are moving further into the mainstream as a construction method.

structural insulated panels

Conventional building techniques such as masonry and timber frame still account for 70% of all self builds but modern methods are constantly evolving and improving, and these Structurally Insulated Panels are becoming a favourite amongst the self-builders.

What goes into a SIP?
Essentially, structural insulated panels are pre-insulated panels that can form part of a building or whole buildings. The composite method of construction is a sandwich of structural board and rigid foam insulation. The panels are made of either cement particle board (CPB) or, more commonly for self-build, engineered wood-based sheets known as oriented strand boards (OSB).

What are the advantages of this system?
There are serval benefits to using SIPs, for instance the house can go up in a matter of days, with fewer tradespeople needed and in a much shorter time than with a conventional build. A whole four bedroom, two storey shell can be assembled and waterproofed in a little over a week saving on labouring costs.

There is zero waste with using SIPs because the fabrication is put together off site and accurately measured using CAD (computer-aided design). This enables a precise design and cut of the materials for a high quality finish.

In order to achieve the level of performance SIP offers with a standard open-panel timber frame wall the depth would need to be 390mm as opposed to 142mm that can be achieved using SIP’s. This can maximise internal floor space on smaller projects and provide low running costs with the high thermal performance and air tightness.

Any drawbacks using SIPs?
Unlike a whole house built from SIPs, it is not very efficient if SIPs are only included into part of the construction design wasting; time, materials and money. The price for structurally insulated panels is higher than standard timber frame or masonry but the costs are quickly offset with lower labour costs.

Additionally, there is not much scope to change your mind once the design has been agreed. There are also restrictions to conventional or contemporary designs as achieving curves with SIP construction will be difficult and expensive. However, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks when it comes to using structurally insulated panels in modern construction providing quick and economical new builds.

Contact Sky House Design Centre for more information about SIP Projects


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