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?
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!