Strenght meets sus­tain­abil­ity

What SIPs mean for your tim­ber home

Timber Home Living - - Contents -

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.”


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.


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.”


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.”

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