WHAT MAKES SIPS A BETTER OPTION THAN TRADITIONAL FRAMING?
SIPs are a more efficient option than framing for a couple of reasons. They do not contain any studs therefore eliminating thermal bridging. This is when heat can transfer through the wood framing members from the outside in (summer) or inside out (winter) in regular construction. SIPs use rigid EPS styrofoam and all joint are completely sealed making for an airtight building. Air does not pass through either the insulation or the joints which makes R-values of the panels higher and more consistent when compared to fibreglass insulation.
HOW DO SIPS STAND UP TO BUILDING CODES REGARDING INSULATION?
For a structure to pass code in regards to insulation, a formula is used to calculate the RSI value. This is different than straight R-Values that were once used. R-values of individual components are still used, however RSI takes into account the R-Value of everything that is contained in a finished wall. This includes the framing, insulation, cladding, windows and finishing. The R-value of the insulation, cladding and finishing is taken into account and then the values of heat conducting components are subtracted to give an RSI value. Because SIPs do not have wood studs as in traditional framing and use rigid insulation that has a higher R-value than fibreglass, they have a huge advantage in this area. The end result is a wall with a better RSI rating without having to add expensive materials as you would in traditional framing to achieve this result. This also means that the option to use bigger more desirable windows is possible without making modifications to the structure.
ARE SIPS AS STRONG AS TRADITIONAL FRAMING?
In fact, SIPs are as much as 3x stronger than regular framing. The way that SIPs are designed is very much like a steel I-beam. The outer skins act as the flanges and the rigid core makes up the web as in an I-beam configuration. This laminated structure creates a very stiff, strong and predictable panel. Not only do tests show that they are much stronger but they have been proven over time by surviving natural disasters such as the Kobe, Japan and Northridge earthquakes as well as Hurricanes Andrew and Irma.
HOW DO SIPS COMPARE IN COST RELATIVE TO TRADITIONAL FRAMING?
A SIP structure would generally cost about 10% more than traditional framing. However if you were to modify traditional methods (i.e. adding 2-3” of rigid styrofoam to the outside) to achieve the same efficiency levels as an SIP panel then the cost of using SIPs would be lesser in cost. Also the efficiency level of an SIP structure can save as much as 50% in heating and cooling costs for the lifetime of the building. This is achieved by both its insulation value and its superior air tight envelope. Not only is it easier to heat and cool when SIPs are used but it is also possible to use smaller furnaces and air conditioners saving on building costs.
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