Home Improvement

Sip panels: what is it, pros and cons, how to mount

Ready-made, dimensional building blocks, which are a kind of “sandwich” made of moisture-resistant OSP on the outside and insulation inside, are called structural insulated panels or SIP-panels (Structural insulated Panel) for short.

This building material was actively used in Canada for the quick construction of small cottages. Its cheapness and ease of operation quickly made it popular in all corners of the planet. This article will discuss the features of construction using SIP panels with a detailed description of the characteristics of this material.

Composition of panels

In order to make an informed decision about the feasibility of using SIP panels in the construction of your own home, you need to understand what a complete “sandwich” of SIP panels is.

The constituent parts of this multi-layer block are only two components:

  1. Oriented chipboard (OSB or OSB).

This material is used for the outer part of SIP blocks. Such plates are made from shavings of conifers or aspen, by creating several layers of shavings, due to gluing them with resins. Synthetic wax and boric acid give plates moisture resistance and antiseptic properties. In order for the SIP panel to be more plastic, during the production of OSP, sawdust is laid lengthwise, which enables the finished material to adapt to different external conditions.

  1. A sheet of polystyrene foam is placed between two OSPs.

Styrofoam is a type of foam, which includes derivatives based on polystyrene and copolymers, to the mixture of which gas is added during production. This technology makes it possible to create an almost weightless material with very low thermal conductivity.

Characteristics of the panels

SIP panels have standard parameters and are standardized. Therefore, you need to focus on the following dimensions:

  • widths of SIP panels are presented in the range of 1 meter 25 centimeters or 1 meter and 20 centimeters;
  • the length of the panel is 2 meters 50 centimeters or 2 meters and 80 centimeters. Less often, and as a rule under individual order, 3 and 6 meter long panels are made;
  • the thickness of the SIP block depends on the polystyrene layer and can be 200, 150 or 100 millimeters.

Advantages of using sip panels

SIP panels have proven themselves very positively in the construction of private houses and cottages. It is worth noting several main advantages of this material:

  • A simple foundation. The construction of any structure is impossible without a foundation. The heavier the building material, the more attention should be paid to the depth and strength of the foundation. The total weight of one SIP panel does not exceed 60 kilograms, which means that the foundation for such a structure can be laid at a shallow depth and without complex and expensive structures.
  • Fire resistance. Flame retardants are included in the OSP plates that make up the SIP sandwich. Thanks to these substances, SIP-panels are very bad at handling and have the property of self-extinguishing. There are a number of studies that prove that the outer side of the SIP block can withstand fire for more than 60 minutes (in contradistinction to bay area siding).
  • Environmental friendliness. The entire “sandwich” of the SIP panel does not pose a danger to humans, animals and the natural environment, as it consists of 97% natural components. Even during combustion, SIP panels do not emit toxic gases.
  • Walls made of SIP panels can withstand heavy loads. This makes it possible to build two-story modern cottages.
  • The SIP panels themselves are very strong, but the whole structure can be made more stable thanks to additional internal stiffening frames.
  • The stiffness of the SIP panel. This property is ensured by the OSP manufacturing technology, due to the perpendicularly placed wood shavings of an elongated shape.
  • Long service life. Most companies producing SIP panels give a guarantee for their units for up to 50 years.
  • Relatively thin blocks. Due to its low thermal conductivity, a sip panel with a thickness of 124 mm is equal to the thermal insulation properties of aerated concrete 400 mm thick (with a density of 400 kg/m3).
  • The possibility of choosing any external finish. SIP panels have a perfectly smooth surface, which makes it possible to perform external decoration from any materials, without preliminary preparation and processing. This also applies to the interior decoration of the house. At the level of SIP panels, tiles, Venetian plaster and wallpaper fit perfectly.
  • Thermal insulation. The house and SIP panels do not need any insulation. The middle of the “sandwich” made of expanded polystyrene is an excellent heat insulator, so houses made of SIP panels are common in countries with a very harsh cold climate. They are very warm and energy efficient.
  • Ease and simplicity of assembly. You can get a ready-made house box within a few days. Foundation work and roof installation will take much more time.

Cons of split panels

Despite the many positive qualities, as with any other building material, SIP panels have their disadvantages. When deciding on the choice of material for the box of the house, one should take into account the disadvantages and features of SIP panels. These include:

  • sealed box. In essence, a house made of SIP panels is a thermos. The material does not allow air to pass through. Therefore, when building a house from SIP blocks, special attention is paid to the ventilation system. It is very important to correctly place air ducts, hoods and ventilation holes, as well as to choose windows suitable for rooms made of this material. Errors in the ventilation system can lead to the formation of fungus and mold. Solving the problem – natural ventilation pipes in the kitchen and bathroom, plus inlet valves (possible on windows);
  • possibility of ignition. Despite the increased fire resistance, SIP panels belong to materials with increased flammability. In most cases, ignition and smoldering occur due to short circuits caused by errors in the wiring system. That is why engineering systems, especially electrical, are very important in a house made of SIP blocks. Solution – in order to prevent possible fires, it is not superfluous to additionally treat the panels with flame retardants and decorate the walls with non-combustible materials (plasterboard);
  • drying plates. Given that the outer parts of SIP panels consist of wood sawdust, like any wood, the panels can dry out over time and slightly change their original shape. Such a phenomenon can lead to the formation of cracks on the finish of external and internal walls. The optimal solution is a hinged ventilated facade (for example, plank, clapboard, siding, etc.) and plasterboard for interior decoration;
  • the possibility of mechanical damage. A house made of SIP panels cannot stand for several seasons without cladding. Therefore, in order to avoid spoilage and damage to the finished box of the house made of SIP blocks, the external finishing will have to be done immediately;
  • as a minor and practically impossible, but still a minus, it should be noted the ease of destruction of SIP panels. A minimum of effort is required to break the wall, and rodents can easily gnaw through OSP boards and make nests in polystyrene foam.

In rare cases, panels can be damaged by rodents. During construction, it is important to consider all joints so that there are no gaps through which rodents can enter.

Understanding the disadvantages and advantages of SIP panels, the features of installation and further operation, you can make an informed decision about the material from which the house will be built.


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