En­ergy-Sav­ing Ma­te­ri­als

Un­der­stand the wall and roof choices for your tim­ber home.

Timber Home Living - - Contents -

While the struc­tural frame may be the star of the show in a tim­ber home, the en­clo­sure sys­tem (trans­la­tion: your walls and roof) is what pro­tects the house from the ex­te­rior el­e­ments. Plus, de­pend­ing on what ma­te­ri­als you choose, this sys­tem can cre­ate a high-per­for­mance house boast­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally- and bud­get-friendly ef­fi­ciency.

While each tim­ber com­pany has their own pref­er­ence for en­clo­sure sys­tems, there are a few dif­fer­ent op­tions to choose from. A cou­ple over­rid­ing con­sid­er­a­tions need to be taken into ac­count when choos­ing a sys­tem, as well as the de­tails about each op­tion.


Struc­tural in­su­lated pan­els, or SIPs, have been around since the 1970s and have been grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity ever since. In ba­sic terms, SIPS are made from a ½-inch layer of ori­ented strand board (OSB), a layer of foam, which varies in thick­ness de­pend­ing on your in­su­la­tion needs, and an­other layer of ½-inch-thick OSB. The lay­ers are glued to­gether much like a sand­wich. Your team of pro­fes­sion­als will work to ap­ply the pan­els’ struc­tural ben­e­fits to your home’s tim­ber frame. Us­ing SIPs may pos­si­bly re­duce the need for knee braces and other tim­bered el­e­ments, sav­ing you some money.

SIP pan­els are pro­duced off-site and shipped to your prop­erty by the man­u­fac­turer when you’re ready to have them in­stalled. They come in a va­ri­ety of sizes, with all the an­gles, win­dows and door open­ings cut out and ready for in­stal­la­tion. They’re screwed to your roof and wall tim­bers and also can be used in ar­eas that are not tim­ber framed in place of con­ven­tion­ally framed wall and roof sys­tems.

SIP homes have ex­tremely low lev­els of air in­fil­tra­tion be­cause there are fewer gaps to seal. This air­tight char­ac­ter­is­tic makes heat­ing and cool­ing your tim­ber home more eco­nom­i­cal in both your monthly en­ergy bill and the smaller size HVAC units your home will re­quire. Homes built with SIPs are able to keep a con­sis­tent tem­per­a­ture and have fewer drafts and less noise in­fil­tra­tion than stan­dard con­struc­tion build­ings. When prop­erly in­stalled, they main­tain a higher whole-wall R-value than stud walls of sim­i­lar pro­por­tions.


Con­ven­tional fram­ing mim­ics the sys­tem used in stan­dard con­struc­tion (the way that most of the homes in the United States are built) and con­sists of 2-by-4-inch and 2-by-6-inch pieces of lum­ber for the wall fram­ing and 2-by-8inch, 2-by-10-inch, 2-by-12-inch or pre­made roof trusses to cre­ate the roof. This all gets sheathed in a ply­wood or OSB layer that ties ev­ery­thing to­gether struc­turally.

To use con­ven­tional fram­ing in a tim­ber home, the walls are con­structed and stood up and in­stalled around the tim­ber frame. Some peo­ple use the in­fill sys­tem, putting the con­ven­tional wall in­side the tim­ber frame. This is not rec­om­mended for ex­te­rior walls. As the tim­bers dry and move through

the sea­sons, you will cer­tainly get air in­fil­tra­tion through the gaps that are cre­ated be­tween the walls and tim­bers. This will in­crease your en­ergy costs as well as po­ten­tially giv­ing you mois­ture prob­lems in the fu­ture.

Elec­tri­cal wires and in­su­la­tion work can be com­pleted as usual and you will have a choice of stan­dard in­su­la­tion types that you can put in the walls. To match the tight­ness and to get the in­su­la­tion value of a SIP, you will need to use a spray-in polyurethane-based foam for your walls and your roof.

If you opt for struc­tural in­su­lated pan­els (SIPs) for your tim­ber home, the pan­els will ar­rive at your site pre-cut and ready for in­stal­la­tion.

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