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Building a Home with Structural Insulated Panels

By HomeCentrl on Jun 19, 2012
This home is being constructed with SIP's- structural insulated panels- so I thought we'd take a closer look at this process. These panels are made with a special layer of Oriented strand board (OSB) and are manufactured so that they hold the force in a vertical position. The foam is called polyisocyanurate and has an R-32 rating for this 5 1/2" wall. A standard 2 x6" wall with fiberglass has an average R-rating of 13.

Here the panels are stacked on the first floor for easy access.
Structural insulated panels

A closeup view of the edge and the two grooves at the top and bottom receive a spline that goes half way into each adjoining panel. These are then screwed together on both side, top to bottom. The groove in the center is for adding a spray on foam. This acts to seal the panels as well as bond them together. See more on the video at the end.

SIP"s side detail with cut outs


As you can see in the above photo above the bottom of the panel (and the top too) have been routed out so that a 2 x 6 piece of lumber, the sill and plate can be easily accepted. The sill plate shown below is attached by nails and bolts to the first floor. The panel is then attached to the sill plate and screwed both on the inside and outside. At the top of the panel, when a few have been installed a top plate is added and this help keep the panels straight as well as provide a place for the roof trusses to be anchored.
sill plate for first floor of new home


OSB over rim joist, new home



Setting the first panel
Setting a SIP's panel for a new home wall

Unless you build the house to the size of the panels, you have to cut some. This 16" saw does the job.

Cutting SIP's panel with 16" saw


Every corner has a 2 x 6 piece of lumber inserted in to act as a nailer for attaching the corners together as well as a nailing point for the future outside trim pieces. 

SIP's Corner board installed


Adding the "little" screws to the corners



And after a day of work the walls to the home are all up, insulated, and sheathed. Try that with a stick framed home!
SIP walls installed in a new home

SIP"s installed in a new home

And a little video of the process:

And yes that's me.

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