Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) – Comparing Insulation Options

When making the decision to build with a structural insulating panel, many want to compare insulating materials. This can be a long and tedious process, so we thought we would do the work for you.

6 Categories of Insulation                                   

Structural Insulating Panel SIP - Comparing Insulation - RAYCORE

Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) – Comparing Insulations

Whether building with a structural insulating panel or using other types of construction, insulation pretty much fall into one of 6 categories.

  1. Loose Fill– granular or fluffy material that can be poured or blown into hollow cavities or open attics
    • Advantages – relatively inexpensive; properly installed, it fills the space without cutting or fitting
    • Disadvantages – settles or moves around and allows air infiltration
  2. Batts and Blankets– made mostly from spun materials into a mat.  Batts come precut lengths and blankets come in long rolls
    • Advantages – inexpensive and readily available
    • Disadvantages – limited R-value per inch;  careful installation practices required to effectively install; compression diminishes R-value and gaps or voids allow air and moisture infiltration
  3. Rigid Plastic Foam– available in boards, forms or structural insulated panels made from several types of plastic foam; each has different R-values and characteristics;  the standard for structural insulating panel
    • Advantages – very high R-values per inch; insulation panels are some cases lightweight and easy to install;  consistent R-values; resistant to water penetration at varying degrees; some can be used below grade;
    • Disadvantages – some are flammable and must be protected by a fire-rated covering
  4. Spray Applied– primarily made from plastic foams with different R-values and performance characteristics
    • Advantages – seals cavities and voids, even small spaces; higher R-values per inch
    • Disadvantages – expensive; R-value diminishes with time; can shrink leaving voids; performance based on quality of installation;
  5. Reflective Materials – to be discussed in future post
  6. Other

Our next 6 posts will include charts showing the different types of insulating materials out there, compare insulating R-values per inch, talk about what they are made from and the advantages and disadvantages of each product.

If you are finalizing the decision regarding the use of a structural insulating panel in your next home, take the time to visit our website.  RAY-CORE structural insulating panels (SIPs) are different.  They are the smart structural insulating panel.  Just click the green button to the right of your screen now or call 877.552.2440 to speak with a representative.

Structural Insulation Panels Choices – Foams and R-Values

When purchasing insulation panels of any type the first question should be, “How much R-value do you want or need?”

Just what is R-value?

R-value is a rating used to measure a material’s thermal resistance, better understood as the ability for heat to travel through it. The higher the R-value, the greater the materials insulating effectiveness.  This varies, depending on the type of insulating material, its thickness and how dense it is.  Simply stated, the harder it is for heat to flow through your walls or roof, the lower your heating and cooling costs.

Most structural insulated panels use various types of foams as insulation, each with its own corresponding R-value.  Let’s take a closer look at these different insulation panel foams.

insulation panels foams RAY-CORE
Insulation Panels Foam Choices

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)

This is the most common form of foam insulation used in structural insulation panels.  We all are familiar with the white foam coffee cups and packaging made up of a thousand tiny beads of foam compressed together.  EPS is the most readily available and least expensive foam on the market but it also is one of the lowest in R-value at around 4 per inch, based on the foams density.  Because of its low R-value, walls need to be thicker to achieve required insulation values.  With a high perm rating, moisture and associated rot and molds can be a real problem.  And EPS’s low melting point allows for builders to carve the product with heated cutting tools, but also reduces the product’s resistance to fire.

Extruded Polystyrene (XPS)

Extruded polystyrene foam insulation panels are similar in appearance to EPS insulation panels with the manufacturing process the being the most significant difference.  At one time XPS claimed to have a higher R-value than EPS, but with recent environmental changes in materials used for manufacturing, XPS R-values fall slightly below the R-4 of EPS.  XPS is stronger than EPS foam, has a lower perm rating and higher melting point which makes it harder to work with but more resistant to fire than EPS.  With the availability low, structural insulated panels made with XPS are generally more expensive than EPS SIPs.

Polyurethane (PUR) / Polyisocyanurate (PIR)

Structural insulation panels made with polyurethane and polyisocyanurate are so similar in composition that in the case of manufactured insulation panels, they can be considered the same.  Polyurethane panels have the highest insulating R-value of any foam at around 7 per inch. Dense  with superior strength and with a much greater R-value per inch, thin walls and roofs are possible while still maintaining an optimum insulation performance.  Low perm rates make it highly resistant to moisture and molds.  With a high melting point that offers a class-1 fire rating, the foam is easy to work with using standard construction tools.  More expensive than the styrene products, polyurethane is a far superior product offering a much greater return for your investment.

RAY-CORE superior insulating structural insulation panels are made with high density closed cell polyurethane foam.  Watch for our next post where we will see how structural insulation panel foams compare to other insulation products and methods.

You can learn more now about RAY-CORE’s structural insulated panels SIPs by clicking on the green button on the right of your screen.