Rapid industrialisation and development around the world are paving the way for widespread adoption of modern building techniques such as using structural insulated panels or SIPs. Conventional construction uses timber frames as the foundation for walls, roofs, and walls. SIPs, on the other hand, are pre-fabricated boards with built-in foam insulation produced in factories and delivered ready for installation.
Although SIPs were invented in the 1930s, traditional timber-frame houses are still more popular. The main reason for this is the rapid changes in building techniques influenced by current trends within the industry. What fuelled the invention of SIPs was the desire to create energy-efficient structures. SIPs were mass produced in the 1960s and met with much success until the 1970s when there was an ongoing energy crisis.
When the energy crisis was eventually resolved, using SIP panels slowly became outdated. It was not until recently when there was a renewed consciousness to build eco-friendly buildings that SIPs once again came into the limelight.
What makes SIPs an excellent building material?
The sheathing material used in fabricating SIPs is typically oriented strand board, but some manufacturers make panels with sheathing made with steel or plywood. Oriented strand board is preferred because it can be made using recycled wood and pressure treated for durability and strength.
The foam insulation core of a SIP is responsible for its thermal performance, thus making it an excellent material to achieve energy efficiency. When building with SIPs, contractors save time and money on labour and an entire building can be erected in as little as two weeks.
A building made with SIPs has not only high thermal performance but also has excellent load-bearing capacity. To improve the fire-retardant characteristic of a SIP construction, gypsum boards are installed in the interior panels before adding a decorative finish.
The growing market for SIPs
The market for SIPs is growing steadily because of the increasing demand from the construction industry. SIPs are not only used in building residential and commercial buildings but also useful in constructing cold storage facilities such as warehouses.
The primary driver for the growing market for SIPs is the demand to construct energy-efficient buildings which result in the reduction of energy consumption. The SIP market is currently segmented according to how these panels are applied.
The main areas of SIP application include building walls, roofing, and cold storage facilities where roof and wall construction take the most significant chunk of the market. Aside from implementation, the SIP market is further segmented according to insulation foam type, and sheathing material used. Currently, oriented strand board and expanded polystyrene panels are the most commonly produced type of SIPs.
Although there is no denying that SIPs are superior over other types of building materials, the lack of awareness and expertise of builders hinders its widespread adoption. As more builders, architects, and engineers involved in the construction industry use SIPs more extensively, the general public will be more aware of their benefits and perhaps choose them over conventional building methods.