SIPs vs. Traditional Construction

Make the switch to SIPs before you have to

The comparison of SIPs to traditional stick-framing methods is simple, and the state of California has recognized it in a state wide law. Their Title 24 legislation, implements new “Building Energy Efficiency Standards” that requires new construction projects (residential and commercial) must install a list of mandatory energy efficiency measures in effort to meet energy efficiency requirements. The most notable requirement is earmarked for 2030, when all new construction will be required to be net-zero energy structures (meaning they generate their own energy, taking none from the grid). Since California is an innovator in energy efficiency, it is very likely that other states will soon follow their lead.

Since government agencies recognize the significant difference in high performance framing methods like SIPs, shouldn't you? Here is a summary of why SIPs are superior to standard 2x6 R19 construction.

From a cost standpoint...

FACT: Material cost of SIPs over traditional stick framed 2x6 lumber = 0-20% higher (depending on region)
FACT: Overall project cost of SIPs over traditional stick framed 2x6 lumber framing = 0 to (-30%)!

So how does a home end up costing less to build if SIPs can be slightly higher than traditional stick frame?

  • Pre-insulated! No need to purchase additional insulation
  • Pre-fabricated & precut when delivered to the jobsite: save 20-30% on framing labor
  • Electrical is installed 20-30% faster
  • Jobsite waste reduced from pre-cut panels -- saves approximately 30% on waste costs
  • Tighter house means smaller HVAC systems -- up to 40% savings
  • Predictable STRAIGHT engineered product is plumb & square every time = faster install for finish work. Doors/windows/millwork: no bowed lumber = straight walls for faster doors/window/millwork install. Floors: level floors and walls = no need to shim!
  • House is dried in faster, subs can start sooner -- fewer wasted "crew" days
  • No roof venting required in low slope roofing
  • Better indoor air quality, smaller or no air purification systems required in many climates
  • Buildings & Houses are FINISHED faster! Less interest paid!!
  • Warranty!! Does your lumber manufacturer offer any warranty? No. SIPs do.

From a performance standpoint...

For more than 30 years SIPs have the proven performance over stick framing.

Breaking it down

With all of these project factors considered, SIPs are regularly less expensive than other building systems.

Benefit 2x6 R19 6" SIP R24
Energy Efficiency Baseline 48% More Energy Efficient
Fire Resistance Sticks require one layer of 5/8" drywall to meet an hourly wall. A one hour fire wall is achieved with a minimum 2 layers of 5/8" drywall each side of the wall. 4 layers on each side will achieve a 2 hour wall.
R-Value The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has studied and tested the performance of entire wall assemblies in large sections. The resulting whole-wall R-value data reveals that a 4.5" SIP wall rated at R-14 outperformed a 2"x6" wall with R-19 fiberglass insulation. We have a 20 year R-Value warranty.

SIPs R-Value:
4" wall 15.0 – 16.0 R-Value
6" wall 23.0 – 24.0 R-Value
8" wall 30.0 – 31.0 R-Value
10" wall 38.0 – 39.0 R-Value
12" wall 46.0 – 47.0 R-Value
Strength Baseline 20-30% Stronger – The structural characteristics of SIPs are similar to that of a steel I-Beam. The OSB skins act as the flange of the I-beam, while the rigid foam core provides the web. This design gives SIPs an advantage at handling in plane compressive loads. SIPs can be engineered for most applications.
Seismic Yes, tie downs and additional material/ labor costs required Yes, additional tie downs may be required depending on design methods
Waste Created Baseline 30% less salvageable structural lumber sent to landfills over stick. The EPA estimates that every year we send to landfills a BILLION board feet of "salvageable, structural" lumber. Enough to build more than 62,000 average size new American homes. SIPs are also recyclable and made with a significant amount of recycled content.
Labor Costs Baseline Up to 55% labor savings. Proven!
IAQ – Indoor Air Quality Baseline The tightness of the SIP building envelope prevents air from gaining access to the interior of the home except in controlled amounts. A controlled indoor environment is both healthy and comfortable. Humidity can be controlled more easily in a SIP home resulting in a home that is more comfortable for occupants and less prone to mold growth and dust mites.

The EPA says that 19% of all American households have at least one member with asthma. They go on to say that four out of ten (40%) of children born in America today will develop some type of respiratory ailment. SIPs build healthier homes and buildings.

A proven higher efficiency product (SIPs) may cost more, but they help the overall project cost less in most cases. A superior project for the same or less total project cost? Why wouldn’t you give it a try? We're sure you'll agree, and are ready to help you on your jobsite so you can see why SIPs really are the future of high performance framing.