Structural insulated panels [SIPs], also called foam-core panels or stress-skin panels, are sheets of foam insulation sandwiched between oriented strand board or another type of composition wood.
Unlike traditional wood construction, SIPs use no studs in the construction process. These strong, super-insulated structural building components can be used for floors, walls and roof.
How it works
SIP contractors develop a design with your homebuilder. In the factory, these designs are transferred to panels up to 24 feet wide and eight feet fall - using such large components minimizes the number of joints where air can leak into your home.
After the panels are cut to the right shape, including window and door openings, they're shipped to the building site. The panels arrive lettered and numbered, allowing for quick installation.
The panels offer an R-value of between four and six per inch, depending on the type of foam used. In fact, SIP walls can be built to a lower R-value because the panels are significantly more airtight than stud walls.
SIPs also offer a few more advantages over standard framing:
Older types of SIPs did have concerns with fire safety and insect damage, but improved manufacturing techniques, along with proper installation, have eliminated the problems.
While SIPs cost more than traditional building materials, they require less labor to install, making the total construction cost about the same.