Building with SIPS and ICFS
Education key to using these new products
with them properly.
Education is crucial any time you have a specialized product.
Tradespeople need to learn how to work with the product — no matter what it is — and what they can and can’t do. SIPs and ICFs are fairly new to the market. Not everyone is going to know how to work with them the right way.
For example, you can’t leave SIPs exposed to the elements for long, especially if they’re made from OSB or plywood. If moisture gets in them the entire structure can be compromised. Once the panels are up and in place house wrap should go up quickly to prevent moisture from getting in.
Another problem is that unskilled tradespeople forget that these are structure materials. You can’t carve into them. If you do it’s like cutting into joists — you compromise the strength of the entire structure you’re building. They are only as strong as the weakest link. That means you can’t go changing things like adding windows or doors. You need to stick to your construction plans.
Also, every SIP and ICF panel is manufactured according to specific engineered construction plans; you can’t go to the store and buy SIPs and ICFs. That’s why it’s cheaper for production builders to use them when building large volumes of a single model home. But that also means that every panel has a designated place it must be installed. Just because all the panels look the same doesn’t mean they are the same.
SIPs and ICFs are moving residential housing in the right direction. They’re popular because you get a lot of results for not a lot of work. You also have low labour costs because installation is easy. But like I said, you need to know what you’re doing. When it comes to SIPs and ICFs many things can go wrong.
I like sticking to what I know. And I know that a cinder block home studded and spray foamed is 100-per-cent thermal broken. To me, proper construction is always foolproof. And that’s something I can stand behind.
New building systems that incorporate insulation, such as ICFs are moving residential housing in the right direction.