SIPs Insulation Panels Choices – Making the Decision

If the decision is to build with a structural insulation panels, the next choice to make is what kind of panel and what type of insulation.

It All Adds Up

With heating and cooling costs accounting for 50 – 70% of the energy used in your home, a well-insulated building envelope adds directly to “money savings”.  Furthermore, keeping the temperatures relatively equal throughout your house adds to your personal comfort. And, in the end, less heating and cooling means less demands on our energy resources and reduced carbon emissions, adding up to a better future.

How it Works    

Insulation Panels Choices RAYCORE

Insulation Panels Choices

What do we talk about nothing more than the weather? Comfort. Stating the obvious, it’s hot outside in the summer and cold outside in the winter.  Funny thing is, we don’t really like that.  We prefer the temperature to stay pretty steady, varying only a few degrees either way, especially in our homes.Heat, on the other hand, is always trying to warm things up.  If it is warm outside, heat tries to work its way into our cooler living spaces.  And if it is cold outside, all that heat we pay for that our furnace works so hard to produce is trying to get outside and warm things up.  Insulation is the barrier we use to try to keep heat where we really want it.Whether we insulate with fiberglass batts, loose fill cellulose, foams that are sprayed or in an insulation panels, straw bales or even compacted dirt (did you know dirt can insulate?), they all work by limiting the movement of heat.  Each has different characteristics and the amount of material required to achieve the same results is based on the insulating material’s R-value, or ability to resist the movement of heat.  The higher the R-value, the better the insulating effectiveness.So Which Kind Is Best?The most correct answer to that question is, “It depends”.  There are a lot of questions that factor into the answer.  How much insulation do you want?  How much space do you have or do you want to give up?  Is availability of the product a factor?  Is price a factor?  Is there anything else that is a factor?Structural Insulation Panel Choices

When it comes to structural insulation panels or SIPs, in most cases foams are the insulation of choice.  In our next post, we will discuss in depth the different types of insulations commonly available in structural insulation panels.  We will point out varying characteristics, the associated pros and cons and compare them to other forms of insulation generally used in construction.  All this hoping to assist you in choosing the best type of insulation for you.

Watch for our next post, and you can learn more about RAY-CORE’s structural insulation panels by clicking the green button on the right of your screen.

SIP Panel Construction vs Stick Framing – Part 2 – Pros and Cons

SIP Panel Construction or Stick Framing?  Making the Decision.  Let’s discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of each of the options. 

Stick Framing

Pros:  Stick framing, a century old form of construction, any experienced contractor knows the basics of stick framing.  Materials are readily available and relatively inexpensive. An adaptable form of construction changes are easily made once the project has started. Readily accommodates almost any size or placement of windows or doors and is flexible to specific design details. No out of the ordinary engineering or code approvals are required.

Cons:  The process. made up of many steps – measuring, cutting, fitting and nailing each stick is time consuming, with mistakes and materials waste common costing money.  Stick framing is difficult to seal and effectively insulate.  Air infiltration leads to condensation and moisture problems.  Wall thickness limits insulation values.  Fiberglass batts and cellulose insulation are only marginally good insulators and have drawbacks.  They do little to seal and their performance depends wholly on the quality of the installation. Air infiltration leads to condensation and moisture problems, leaving the wood susceptible to insect infestation and rot.   Adding spray foam helps to seal and boosts R-value but doesn’t guarantee an airtight envelope and insulation value decreases with time and the substantially higher cost doesn’t provide a good return for the added investment.  Wood burns easily.

SIP Panel Construction

Pros:  Conventional SIP Panel or “Sandwich Panels” have been around since the 1950’s, the invention of Alden B. Dow, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright.   Material costs may be more, but speed and efficiency of installation saves time and money.  Weather delays are limited and a home can be under roof in half the time or less.  SIP panel construction produces a structure with superior strength and racking resistance.  The polystyrene insulation core has a much higher R-value per inch compared to fiberglass and cellulose insulations.   Increased R-values and reduced infiltration produce energy savings costs over the lifetime of your home.

Cons:  New to many builders, they find SIPs to be unfamiliar and intimidating refusing to work with them.  Special tools and often cranes are required for installation.  Careful project planning and sufficient lead time is required to accommodate special engineering, code approvals, manufacturing and shipping of the product.

SIP Panel Rot - RAY-CORE Panels - NO OSB to Rot!

Conventional “Sandwich” SIP Panel Rely on thier OSB Skins for Structural Support – Moisture is thier Enemy!

Custom made and cut to order, on-site changes or panel damage will result in substantial time and money costs for replacement.  Relying solely on OSB skins for their strength, glue failure can cause delamination and structural failure.   OSB is highly susceptible to moisture and exposure will cause rot requiring the total replacement of your wall or roof system.  Styrofoam is flammable and melts at high temperatures.


In the mid 80’s, Harry Raymond, a general contractor for over 50 years, believed that the construction industry needed a better alternative to building strong, energy efficient homes.  Considering the advantages of both stick framing and SIP panel construction, and eliminating the associated problems, Harry developed RAY-CORE.  RAY-CORE Structural Insulated Panels offer the strongest, most unique, highly insulating, airtight SIPs on the market.  Believing your home should be held up with something more reliable than OSB and glue, studs are molded in place with superiorly insulating fire resistant polyurethane foam and the panels are wrapped in a radiant foil vapor barrier.  Builder-friendly RAY-CORE SIP panels utilize conventional framing practices and are lightweight, fast and easy to use. Fully modular and adaptable, there are no rights or lefts, ups or downs.  If you can build it with sticks you can build it with RAY-CORE.  Resistant to moisture, mold and rot, RAY-CORE SIP panels are affordable, labor- saving construction that offers a lifetime of up to 40% energy savings to boot.  All Pros without the Cons, building with RAY-CORE SIP panels is a win-win situation!    

SIP Panels vs Stick Framing – Part 1 – The Basics

The first big decision – SIP Panels or Stick Framing?  Why will I choose Structural Insulating Panels over the alternative?  Why not?  Which is the best framing choice for you?  Let’s start with the basics.

SIP vs Stick Framing RAY-CORE

SIP Panel vs Stick Framing – Making the Decision

Traditional stick framing as we know it has been around since the 1800’s.  Also known as “light-frame construction”, this form of construction consists of vertical structural members called “studs” providing the framework of a building. Headers support the weight of the structure above wall penetrations, such as doors and windows.   Rigid panels attached such as OSB or plywood and diagonal wood or metal bracing provide much of the strength to resist the forces of wind and seismic movement.  Wall sections usually include a bottom plate that is secured to the floor of the structure and two top plates that tie the walls together and carry the weight of the structure above.


Conventional structural insulated panels, as we know them, have been around since the 1950’s.  The most common structural insulated panel or SIP panel consists of a foam core insulation material, commonly polystyrene, sandwiched between two sheets of OSB and adhered with a glue.  Strength of the SIPs come from the combination of these materials.   These “sandwich panels” are joined one to another with a spline and attached at the floor with a dimensional lumber bottom plate and supported at the top with top plates as in conventional framing.


Different from conventional SIP panels, RAY-CORE structural insulated panels are an even better insulation panel.  RAY-CORE utilizes the centuries-old tried-and-true benefits of conventional stick-framing while putting into practice state-of-the-art advanced framing techniques.  Producing a lightweight modular panel consisting of integrated studs, super insulating polyurethane foam injected between the studs and wrapped in a foil radiant vapor barrier, RAY-CORE offers something different for those looking for the strongest, most dependable, best insulating and airtight high-tech product on the market.

Watch for our next post where we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages associated with stick framing, SIP Panel construction and RAY-CORE Structural Insulated Panels.  For more information now, click on the green button found on the right side of your screen!

Structural Insulated Panels – Making the Decision

With all the different Structural Insulated Panels to choose from, what really makes the difference?  Our next few posts will discuss some of the differences in SIP products and materials.  We hope this will help you in the decision making process and why they might be the right choice for you and your next home.

Basics – What Are Structural Insulated Panels?

Structural Insulated Panels Decisions RAY-CORE

Structural Insulated Panels – Decisions & Choices

If you are new to this topic, a simple definition of Structural Insulated Panels SIPs is prefabricated panels used to frame generally the exterior walls, roof or the floor of your home. With structural insulated panels you get both the framing and insulation in one package.  The result is strong, highly insulating and airtight panelized form of construction.

Different Types of Structural Insulated Panels

When we speak of structural insulated panels or SIPs, we actually refer to a variety of products and materials.  The most common type of SIP panel is the “sandwich panel” also sometimes called a “stressed-skin panel”.  These SIPs panels consist of an insulating material “sandwiched” between two outer “skins”, most commonly sheets of oriented strand board or OSB.  Some manufacturers offer other types of “skins” such as plywood, fiber-cement board, and metal in place of the OSB.  The two materials are laminated together with an adhesive to form a combination panel.

The OSB or outer skin material primarily makes up the “structural” part of the insulated panels.  The insulating material, along with other elements that join the sandwich panels and affix them to the floor and roof of the structure may also provide some structural support.

Most structural insulated panels insulating material is of the “foam type” with polystyrene the most commonly used.  Polystyrene comes in two forms, expanded polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS) with varying features and qualities that will be discussed in an upcoming post.  Less commonly offered, but superiorly performing “foam” insulations of polyurethane and polyisocyanurate are available if you want to get the best insulation value for your money.  A few soy-based foam products are out there for the super environmentally conscious.  And if you don’t want foams at all, you can purchase panels that have compressed wheat straw as their insulating core!  Choices.

If Not a Sandwich Panel, Than What Else Is There?

A completely different type of structural insulated panel is offered by RAY-CORE.  In an attempt to overcome the common problems associated with conventional SIPs, RAY-CORE created a unique patented SIP panel product.  Not a “sandwich panel”, RAY-CORE panels consist of studs, the highest R-value polyurethane foam and a radiant vapor barrier.

In future posts we will discuss differences, pros and cons of stick framing vs. structural insulated panels, other framing systems, various insulating materials options, and look at the real cost of SIPs and why you wouldn’t want to build with anything else!  Decisions.

While you are waiting, if you would like find out more now about RAY-CORE SIPs, just click on the green button on the right side of your screen!

SIP Panels Offer Comfort For “Glampers” at Jackson Hole Campground’s Fireside Resort

SIP by RAYCORE at Fireside Resort

SIP Wall & Roof Panels by RAY-CORE keep “Glampers” Comfortable in all Seasons at MacKay’s Jackson Hole Campground Fireside Resort

When Jamie MacKay approached RAY-CORE regarding the use of their SIP panels for a project in beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming area, RAY-CORE knew that they were going to be a part of something special!Realtor, campground owner, environmentalist and entrepreneur Jamie MacKay had plans to offer a more luxury form of “camping” through custom built recreational park trailer (RPT) rentals.  Less interested in “roughing it” in a tent and more interested in “comfort and convenience” while getting “away from it all”, Jamie knew that these unique units would be just what today’s younger generation of campers would be looking for.  Sitting in the shadows of the elite Jackson Hole Ski Resort, this was the perfect location for such a project.

“Glamping”,  “the new term being used for upscale – or glamorous – camping”, as referred to by New York Times Travel reporter Jennifer Conlin, is the “…eco-friendly idea of falling asleep under the stars and roasting marshmallows around a campfire”, without the reality of “pitching a tent and sleeping on a bumpy ground”.  In a 2011 article published in the Jackson Hole News and Guide, Jamie MacKay described the trailers as part of his new “Green Camping” initiative, working “to produce a more sustainable lodging/camping option at the Jackson Hole Campground.”  He reports that the trailers reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, and he intends to use 100% purchased wind power.  The project also includes reclamation within the park through the seeding of native grasses and planting 100 new trees on the site.

In an interview with Kent Griswold posted on the “Tiny House Blog”, Jamie stated, “It took me a while to come up with the finalized deign, working with small spaces is a difficult process.  The “Park Model” is built out of SIP panels and SIP roof system, 4″ walls and 6″ roof, keeping heating and cooling costs down.  The exterior of the unit is a mixture of rusty metal and cedar siding that was stained to look like barn wood.  One could use barn wood although it would be 4x the cost.”  With the intention of making these units available to other campgrounds nationwide, MacKay states “I am currently working on building more of these units and will ship to quite a few this summer.”

The SIP panels and SIP roof system Jamie referred to are panels produced at RAY-CORE’s Idaho Falls, Idaho manufacturing facility.  RAY-CORE Structural Insulated Panels SIPs, a patented, super-insulating polyurethane structural insulated panel with integrated studs is wrapped in a foil radiant vapor barrier, providing an impenetrable barrier that will withstand the harsh elements of Wyoming winters and summers.  For more information about RAY-CORE products, click the green bar to the right of this article or call toll free 1.877.552.2440.  You can learn more about “The Wedge” and Jamie MacKay’s Jackson Hole Campground Fireside Resort, visit or call 1.877.660.1177.

New York Times Travel, Jennifer Conlin, September 14, 2008

Tiny House Blog, Kent Griswold, June 9, 2010,

Jackson Hole News and Guide, Cara Rank,

SIP Panels – Strength in a Down Market

The SIP Panels industry reported May 2012 that in spite of the continued lagging housing market that SIP panels manufacturers experienced only a “modest” 4 percent drop in the year 2011.   The result of a survey conducted by the Structural Insulated Panel Association (SIPA) of US and Canada SIPs manufacturers, the minimal decline compares to the reported 8.5 percent drop in single-family starts in 2011.  Added confidence of SIP panels sales growth in the year 2012 is increased as industry experts share data, forecasting a strong future.

SIP Panels News RAY-CORE

SIP Panels Industry Optimistic for 2012 Housing Market

Quoting a January 19, 2012 report, Chairman of National Home Builders Association, Bob Nielson stated “Today’s report adds to the growing evidence that demand for new, single-family homes is finally starting to firm up in an increasing number of markets nationwide.”  NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe shared his outlook for the upcoming year, “This report is in keeping with our expectations for slow but steady improvement in the single-family market, where production hit its lowest yearly rate in over 50 years in 2011.”

In June of 2012, reportedly U.S. builders broke ground on the most homes in nearly four years.  Single-family home building starts, accounting for more than 70 percent of new residential construction rose for a fourth straight month reaching their highest point since March of 2010.   Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke highlighted this in a July 17, 2012 report to Congress on the economy.  “We’ve been hoping for this for a long time,” said Celia Chen, a housing economist at Moody’s Analytics. “It looks like things are turning.”

Optimism carries through to the Structural Insulated Panel Association.  With sixty-seven percent of all SIP panels sold being used in residential construction and a current market share of around 1%, the ever-expanding market for high performance building materials makes for a bright future.  Executive Director Bill Wachtler said “… the nation’s growing interest in green building and our cumulative increase in market share really prepare the SIP industry for strong growth as the economy recovers.”  Beyond single-family dwellings, Wachtler states, “Architects looking at more rigorous energy codes and green building rating systems are realizing that SIPs can significantly reduce labor costs on large commercial projects.”  “Nonresidential and multifamily buildings remain important market segments with strong growth potential for the SIP industry.”

SIPA describes Structural Insulated Panels SIPs most commonly as a “panelized building system composed of insulating foam sandwiched between two structural facings, providing an energy-efficient building enclosure for both residential and commercial buildings.”  New innovations in the industry include additional materials including soy-based foams and compacted straw insulation.

Advances in technology has lead to more advanced SIP panels systems such as RAY-CORE’s patented Structural Insulated Panels SIPs.  RAY-CORE is different.  More similar to conventional framing construction, RAY-CORE SIPs consist of wooden structural members (studs) foamed in place with super-insulating closed-cell polyurethane foam insulation and wrapped in a foil radiant vapor barrier to produce a lightweight modular 4 foot wide panel of varying lengths and thicknesses.  With R-values from 26 – 52, RAY-CORE SIP panels have all the strength and confidence that comes with centuries of conventional framing materials and methods, coupled with technological advances in superior insulation materials and the performance of radiant vapor barriers as a part of a structure’s insulating envelope.  Incorporating advanced framing configurations that reduce thermal drift, there is no stronger, more highly-insulating, product on the market that can produce a super-tight envelope.  Find out more now by contacting one of RAY-CORE’s experts by phoning 1.877.552.2440.


For complete articles,  “SIP Industry Remains Strong in Uncertain Housing Market”,,  and “Single-Family Housing Starts Rise 4.4 Percent in December”,