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    October 10, 2010
    Top Tips for Building with SIPS
    DENVER, CO — SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) are becoming a popular energy-saving building material with many advantages to builders and home-owners.

    SIPs can be manufactured to virtually any architectural design. Because the SIPs are manufactured to spec, there is nearly zero waste on the jobsite and labor is reduced significantly. Labor time savings range from 30-40%. SIPs also make inside finish work easier to complete. Drywall goes up fast and cabinets are quickly attached directly into the SIP facing.

    A home built with R-Control® SIPs can reduce enough energy consumption to eliminate 2 - 3 tons of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere per year when compared to a similar home built with 2x dimensional lumber. Over the life of a 30-year mortgage, the home built with R-Control SIPs can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 to 90 tons. Add to this, 30 years of energy savings to the homeowner, and it’s not surprising to see SIPs becoming the material of choice for a growing number of builders.

    ACH Foam Technologies, the manufacturer of R-Control SIPs, offers these important tips for building with SIPs, based on the most common errors made by builders:

    1. Pre-Plan Electrical & Equipment Needs

    During the design phase it’s extremely beneficial to pre-plan for electrical chases. Since SIP panels are manufactured to meet the project’s specifications, it’s important to plan for electrical chases in advance to prevent time consuming and sometimes costly changes to make modifications during installation. For example, SIP facings should never be cut horizontally for the installation of electrical wiring. Cutting the SIPs will result in compromising the structural performance . Also, during the design phase, it’s important to determine if there are any equipment needs for the installation of the panels. If the project specifies roof panels or wall and floor panels larger than 8’ x 8’ in size, equipment such as a forklift or crane may be needed to install the SIPs.

    2. Organize the Panels for Installation

    After your SIP panels are delivered to the jobsite, proper storage, weather protection and handling will help to make the installation process more efficient. First, set aside a level spot to store panels and try to store panels for the first floor separately from the second floor and so on. Essentially you want to organize the panels by the sequence in which they are installed. Lay the panels flat, no closer than three inches to the ground and give them plenty of support. Panels should be stacked so that identifying marks can be easily read. Third, prior to the start of construction, keep SIP panels dry when stored on site by covering them with a breathable protective covering.

    3. Installation & Sealing

    During installation it’s important to note that panels need to be fully supported. The panel slips over a wall plate, which needs to be set half an inch from the building edge to ensure that the panels are fully supported. Next, set panels in place in order – start in the corners or valleys and work your way out. Once the panels are installed you should always follow the manufacturer’s joint sealing recommendations. Panel joints and voids must be properly sealed using Do-All-Ply® adhesive or SIP tape to minimize air leakage and most importantly to maintain the structure’s long-term durability.

    4. Protect the SIP Panels from Weather Penetration

    Once the SIP panels have been installed and sealed, weather protection such as housewrap will prevent moisture deterioration. Windows, openings and penetrations require proper flashing and sealants. Improperly installed flashings can result in trapped moisture. Follow the housewrap manufacturer’s installation guidelines. Flash all penetrations; windows over time will eventually leak some water at the window sill. Installing flashing under and around windows and doors will direct water away from the wall structure.

    5. Sizing up Your HVAC

    One common mistake is under-estimating the high insulating and air sealing properties of SIPs when selecting an HVAC system. SIPs allow for smaller HVAC equipment. When working with a HVAC contractor, make sure they take into account an estimate for low levels of air infiltration. Proper HVAC sizing is critical because an underused system will fail to reach a steady operating rate, resulting in short cycling which is less energy efficient and requires more maintenance.
    Factors used to Determine HVAC sizing:
    • Size of Building (each floor analyzed individually)
    • Orientation of Building
    • Type of Wall Construction (and associated R-value)
    • Window information (number, location, insulation value, fenestration rating)
    • Door information (number, location, insulation value, fenestration rating)
    • Duct location (in heated space, in unheated space, in attic, in crawl space)
    • Fireplaces (number, type)
    • Air Infiltration

    SIP Do's
    1. Do provide adequate support for SIPs when storing them. Store SIPs laying flat and covered.
    2. Do study installation drawings before setting panels.
    3. Do remove debris from plate area prior to panel placement.
    4. Do provide level and square foundations or floors that support SIP walls.
    5. Do provide adequate bracing of panels during erection.
    6. Do hold sill plate back from edge of floor system 1/2” to allow full bearing of SIP OSB facings.
    7. Do provide 1-1/2” diameter access holes in plating to align with electrical wire chases in SIPs.
    8. Do store R-Control® Do-All-Ply® sealant and SIP Tape in a warm area for best application results in cold weather.
    9. Do always follow manufacturer’s recommended joint sealing techniques.
    10. Do place R-Control® Do-All-Ply® sealant along the leading edge of wood being inset into panel.
    11. Do use R-Control® Do-All-Ply® sealant on wood-to-wood, wood-to-EPS and EPS-to-EPS connections.
    12. Do use SIP Tape or equivalent vapor retarder on roof panel joints.
    13. Do install proper flashing and sealants around all rough openings and penetrations as required.
    14. Do use only continuous 2X’s, I-Beams, and Insulated I-Beams for spline connections.
    15. Do use proper underlayments for roofing and siding. SIP walls are airtight without housewrap but they do need a drainage plane material.
    16. Do install plumbing in interior walls. Furr out interior sections for pipes if necessary.
    17. Do provide adequate ventilation to maintain indoor air quality.
    18. Do use termite resistant and mold resistant materials when required such as Perform Guard® Termite resistant EPS SIP core or Frame Guard® mold resistant OSB treatment.
    SIP Don'ts
    1. Don’t leave panels exposed to the elements for long periods of time.
    2. Don’t lift SIPs by top OSB facing or drop SIPs on corners.
    3. Don’t install SIPs directly on concrete.
    4. Don’t cut wall panel skins horizontally for installation of electrical wiring or overcut the OSB facings for field-cut openings. Use factory provided chases in SIP core.
    5. Don’t be afraid to field trim panels for an exact fit.
    6. Don’t install recessed lighting inside the panels.
    7. Don’t put plumbing in R-Control® SIPs Panels.
    8. Don’t install or use unvented combustion equipment such as vent-free gas logs, fireplaces or heaters in an airtight SIP house

    About ACH Foam Technologies

    For specifications, technical data and studies go to or call ACH Foam Technologies at 800.525.8697.For over four decades ACH Foam Technologies has been an industry leader in EPS manufacturing, providing products for construction, geotechnical, packaging, and industrial applications. With locations throughout the U.S., ACH is positioned to offer convenient, valuable, and complete solutions for its customers. ACH recycles 100% of its post-industrial EPS and is actively involved in recycling post-consumer EPS as well.