Saturday, June 14, 2008

Types of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) Available

You’ve probably heard that SIPs, as structural insulated panels and stress-skin panels are often called, outperform conventional fiberglass insulation as far as energy efficiency, but did you know there are several types of SIPs to choose from for your green home? Depending on your home’s structural requirements, climate, and budget, there are three common choices: EPS (expanded polystyrene); XPS (extruded polystyrene); or Urethane (either polyisocyanurate or polyurethane, with only a slight difference between the two).

All three types of panels create an extremely strong building envelope, are very energy efficient, and provide continuous insulation. EPS panels consist of insulation boards made of small beads of styrene foam that have OSB (Oriented Strand Board, a type of plywood made of smaller ‘chips’ of wood) bonded to either side. EPS panel thickness varies from 4.5” to 10.25” and provides an R-Value from 13 to 35.

XPS panels consist of an extruded styrene foam board with OSB bonded to each side. Panels are typically 4.5” to 8.5” thick and offer an R-Value of 17 to 36. (see photo by Foard Panel).

Urethane panels are made by injecting liquid urethane between two stationary sheets of OSB. While the chemicals mix and expand (taking only minutes), the urethane also bonds itself to the boards. Urethane panels vary in thickness form 4.5” to 6.5” and provide a superior R-Value from approximately 26 to 40, the greatest of the three types. The three types of panels are typically 4’ wide and can be up to 24’ long.

We recommend using Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) for your new green home or timber frame home. SIPs will help you save on heating and cooling costs (up to 50% compared to traditional fiberglass insulation, according to the Structural Insulated Panel Association), save on installation labor costs, and produce minimal on-site waste. Have more questions about SIPs? Feel free to send us an email or give us a call.

Jackie Lampiasi, Marketing Director

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