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Efficient Design Tips for Building with Structural Insulated Panels

We have compiled this list of design tips that should lower the overall cost of your project and help it go smoother and quicker and produce less waste.

General

Tip Reason
Maintain a 2' grid for the perimeter to reduce cost and waste. SIPs are built in 4' and 8' widths. (24' 3-3/4" wall lengths do not benefit anyone)
Working within 1' and 2' length increments also reduce cost and waste. 10' 7-1/4" wall heights will quickly put your project over budget.
Standard panel thicknesses (4-1/2", 6-1/2", 8-1/4", 10-1/4", 12-1/4") are designed to allow for dimensional inserts to be used. Custom panel thicknesses are available but increase material and assembly costs.
Let the SIPs do the work — larger headers, thicker panels with less inserts, etc.

Technical

Tip Reason
Outer layer of sheathing cannot protrude past the edge of the foundation deck. SIPs rely on the sheathing for their axial-load-bearing capabilities. Both layers of sheathing need to be fully supported by the foundation/deck.
Leave plenty of solid panel to the sides of windows and some above to help carry loads without a header. SIPs perform very well in resisting transverse loads. Properly planned windows will help maintain the integrity of the panel's structure.
Try to keep your structural supports (ridge, purlins, posts, etc.) within the building envelope instead of building them into the panels. One of the greatest benefits of using SIPs is its solid core insulation. The reduction of thermal bridging increases a structure's energy efficiency. By reducing the amount of structural elements needed between panel skins you can maintain that tight building envelope.
Consider using thicker wall panels. A 6-1/2" panel can carry significantly more weight than a 4-1/2" one, and the R-value is better. Many internal supports can be eliminated, or, if needed, they can be sized easier to carry loads. You get all of these advantages for less than a 10% cost increase per square foot.
Start by working within 12' unsupported spans. This works for both walls and roofs.
Minimize or eliminate any protrusions through the panels when working with a timber frame or "hybrid" building. Protrusions are nearly impossible to seal properly, and if sealed, the seal is likely to break when the beam shrinks or twists. This creates an area for potential moisture problems.

Send us your building plans early! We can convert your design to panel layouts and suggest ways to save you money!

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ACME PANEL  |  1905 West Main Street, Radford, Virginia 24141  |  Ph: 877.331.4266  |  info@acmepanel.com