Structurally insulated panels have been used in home building since the mid-1930’s, but the process of using SIPs has become much more prevalent in the last couple of decades as the benefits of using these materials become more obvious in a world of high-energy costs.
SIPS are most often made of OSB panels wrapped around a foam core comprised of expanded polystyrene (EPS), extruded polystyrene (XPS), or polyurethane. The panels, as well, can be made of alternate materials, including plywood, steel, aluminum, and cement board.
The cost of structurally insulated panels, at one time higher than other available materials, is now comparable with other methods. But the benefits to the home owner are very impressive.
A home built by a competent builder using these panels can expect to yield energy savings in the area of 40% in both the short and long term. SIPs out-perform other materials because of their superior thermal insulation, which also contributes to their effective resistance to damp and cold.
The panels, which can be used for floor and roof in addition to walls, require the use of fewer tradespeople, and less time for the tradespeople that are required. They are lightweight and compact, making them incredibly easy to work with, and can come pre-cut from a factory to cater to specific job requirements. All of this translates into a more efficient construction timeline, and by extension, quality home completions in a shorter period of time.
Structurally, SIPs have been shown to be superior to conventionally-framed construction when it comes to performance in axial load strength. They have a tremendous amount of versatility, since they can do the job as framing, insulation, and exterior sheathing, and this same versatility means that they’re excellent materials to be used when working with custom designs.