In recent years, prefab homes have become very popular, especially on rustic plots. In general, these houses use a construction technique based on SIP panels (Structural Insulated Panel), that is, isothermal structural panels. What people do not know is that this material is not only used in this type of construction. Thanks to its versatility it can receive other uses, too.
SIP panels are composed of a high-density expanded polystyrene (EPS HD) core, glued with a structural adhesive to two plates which, although they can be made of plywood or fiber cement, are usually made of OSB (Oriented Strand Board), this is, the result of pressing wood chips in perpendicular layers, joining them with resin applied at high pressure and temperature.
It is not a new technique, since the origin of SIP panels can already be found in the 1930s, when a group of forest engineers from Wisconsin (USA) began to play with the idea. It would end up gaining more acceptancy in the 1950s and 1960s, when the incorporation of high-density expanded polystyrene was technically feasible.
This type of panel does not usually exceed 3.5 meters high or 1.5 meters wide, with a thickness that, of course, varies depending on whether the wall will be used as an internal or external wall, moving in a range between 50 and 230 millimeters. In total, the weight of a SIP panel can be around 60 kg.
The material from which they are made should not misled you, since they are highly resistant, being able to support vertical loads of up to two tons and horizontal loads of about ten tons per meter. In reality, its structural behavior is practically comparable to that of a steel beam.
If we had to summarize the advantages of this construction technique we could reduce them to three, namely: efficiency, speed and safety, but it is worth dwelling a little more.
Eco-friendly and durable option
If we delve into the advantages that SIP panels offer compared to other traditional materials, we can highlight their benefits as thermal and acoustic insulation, which will provide us with greater comfort and energy efficiency in our home. In addition, the material offers great resistance to both climatic phenomena such as wind and rain, as well as humidity, saltpeter or even termites or fungi, which results in a long useful life.
Their low carbon footprint, ease of transport and simplicity in construction with much faster assembly, has led them to become one of the preferred options for green buildings. Likewise, we cannot ignore the cost issue, not only in the execution of the construction -requires less labor and logistics-, but in the product itself, since the price of SIP panels is very economical, and can be three to five times cheaper than wood or stone.
In new construction or refurbishments
Given their characteristics, they are not only used in the construction of prefabricated houses, but more and more SIP panels are used for specific actions in houses, such as room partitions, using them for interior partitions; for walls called thermos-skin, which increase thermal insulation or even for ceilings by giving them different finishes, be it wood, plasterboard, etc.
Whether in new construction or when you are going to undertake a reform or rehabilitation project, for quality and price, SIP panels can be a very attractive alternative that you will not regret.