Strenght meets sustainability
What SIPs mean for your timber home
One of the many things that makes a timber frame home so appealing to the modern homeowner — besides its incomparable beauty — is the sustainability and energy efficiency that timber framing affords. Green building practices paired with the use of structural insulated panels (SIPs) offer maximum energy efficiency and added strength by providing a tight building envelope that works well with timber frame materials.
So, how do these panels work exactly? “A SIP is a panel that consists of three to six inches of polyurethane foam insulation sandwiched between a half inch of oriented strand board (OSB) on either side,” explains Sam Ebersol, general manager of MidAtlantic Timberframes in Paradise, Pennsylvania. “This creates a rigid wall panel that is as strong as, or stronger than, a conventionally framed wall, and creates a sealed envelope around the frame. Conventionally framed walls generally have 2-by-6-inch studs positioned at 16-inch intervals, and each stud creates a thermal break in the consistency of the insulation.”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE HOME & HOMEOWNER?
A timber frame that is well designed and built, and that utilizes SIPs, not only provides a beautiful living space, but it allows a home to contain the inside conditioned air and eliminate air infiltration. This ultimately results in significantly less heating and cooling fuel consumption and lower energy costs while providing exceptional comfort to the inhabitants inside. SIPs are also more durable and safer than traditional building materials. They have a Class 1 fire rating, which contributes to homeowner peace of mind.
HOW DO SIPS FACTOR INTO THE DESIGN OF A HOME?
Indoor air quality has become a major concern in homes and buildings that are built to meet or exceed energyefficiency standards. Timber frame structures built with SIPs require special HVAC consideration due to the airtight building envelope and exceptional insulating properties of the panels. Most manufacturers require that a mechanical ventilation system be included in the HVAC plan. “Try to work with a builder and architect ahead of time — as early as possible in the process — to determine what special considerations may be needed,” Ebersol advises. “A little extra planning in the design phase of a project will go a long way in keeping the installation as simple as possible.”
IS SIP CONSTRUCTION MORE EXPENSIVE?
The initial cost of SIP construction and materials is typically higher than that of conventional materials, depending upon the complexity of the design. However, there are real savings in labor and construction waste volume, which makes the building process more costeffective.
SIPs are also available with built-in electric chases that allow for ease of
electrical wiring, thus reducing subcontractor time on-site. “Timber frame builders who utilize SIPs pass on savings
to homeowners through reduced installation time, less waste, flexible design and faster construction time frames,”
says Ebersol. “Once the timbers are cut, and the SIPs manufactured, a home can be constructed quickly.”