How High-Performance Building Envelope Products Like SIPs Will Protect You From the Elements 

Look at this real-live video footage taken on January 11, 2017, in Raleigh, NC…when severe thunderstorms hit the area, and the extreme wind brought this condo building down to the ground.


SIP Illustration

SIP Illustration

As you see in this video, stick framing is incredibly vulnerable until the sheathing is properly nailed off. A stick-framed wall has no resistance to shear until the sheathing is nailed, making it vulnerable to collapse from wind or seismic loads. 

Do you know what is resilient to this type of weather? Fire ants. I heard a story about a hurricane that hit near Houston, TX, and people commenting on seeing fire ants clinging together to form an ant raft when the flooding started. Something that should have had an adverse effect on these ants, and they persevere because they know how to rely on each other. The ants would periodically take turns rotating from the bottom up to the top and worked together to save the larvae and the queen. 

Do you know what else is resilient to this type of weather? Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). When SIPs panels are used as the framing method, you have the full sheer strength available immediately after the SIP is installed and nailed to the sill plate, top plate, and adjacent panels. Riskless when you build with SIPs.

SIPs are a structural composite…three components working together to provide performance under pressure. This composite assembly yields stiffness, strength, and predictable responses. These three components provide a ‘sandwich,’ which is stronger than the individual components.

SIPs provide excellent resistance to axial, flexural, and lateral forces that all buildings are subject to. This means that SIPs have the ability to support axial loads in-wall applications, provide excellent resistance to lateral loads caused by earthquakes or high winds, and ensure that the roof can support the loading it is subjected to.

Strength in building materials and systems is judged by the materials’ ability to withstand the forces of nature. Data to determine strength properties is gathered by destructive testing, and specific tests are utilized to evaluate a SIPs performance in high winds, earthquakes, and snow loading conditions. The testing that Premier’s panels have been subjected to are some of the most extensive in the industry. Premier SIPs are exceptionally strong in racking and diaphragm shear capacities, which are the primary structural properties that engineers are concerned with when designing for seismic and hurricane events.

DIY network’s Deconstruction show featured Premier SIPs to display just how durable and strong they are. See min 10:47 of the video where they discuss and test SIPs for storm-prone areas and hurricane-force winds:

DIY's Deconstruction, All About Framing

DIY’s Deconstruction, All About Framing


More Benefits of SIPs

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are great for walls, ceilings, floors, and roofs. SIPs Panels provide a high R-value with the benefits of a high strength-to-weight ratio among many other benefits such as:

Energy Efficiency and Comfort:

  • The energy-efficiency gained from a SIP system can help your building stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter without using excessive amounts of natural gas, fuel, or electricity.
  • Premier SIPs have R-values that range from R-15 to R-45 with standard expanded polystyrene (EPS) cores and from R-18 to R-55 with graphite polystyrene (GPS) cores depending on the thickness. SIP structures typically exceed local energy code requirements.
  • Premier SIP systems can help building owners and homeowners pursue green building ratings, certifications, tax credits, and energy-efficient mortgages.

Retail SIPS Project[/caption]

Improved Indoor Air Quality:

  • Due to the tightness in construction of SIP systems and the lack of thermal bridging, as is common in traditional stick framing, a SIP building has less air leakage and is less drafty, leading to improved occupant comfort.
  • The virtual airtight design eliminated air leaks, reducing unwanted contaminants from entering the structure. 
  • SIP components reduce exposure to VOCs. 
  • A solid insulation core eliminates the movement of air, enabling the HVAC system to manage the air. 
  • Today’s new normal:
    • As of May 1, 2020, 50% of employed adults have been working from home. 
    • Online schooling is the future. 
    • Awareness of air quality has increased for the positive.
    • The home will take on a much more significant role as safe, healthy shelters for families. 
    • There is a high correlation between Coronavirus and IAQ
    • SIP structure up to 15 times more airtight than stick-framed structure
    • Codes, regulations, programs, and policy driving change for healthy, sustainable living solutions. 

Ease of Construction:

  • Once the floor slab or foundation is complete, SIP systems can ‘dry-in’ a building within days (RS Means study. Can be installed up to 55% faster than stick framing). SIPs are factory cut for accuracy (length, width, window, and door openings), quality, and reduced on-site labor. SIPs also arrive on-site with wiring chases pre-installed from the factory.
  • Sheath, insulate, and frame in one step. 
  • Large panels with factory-engineered accuracy eliminate variations found in conventional lumber. 
  • Can use smaller crews (typically use a 5-man crew for SIPs)—ideal for skilled labor shortages. 
  • Reduce call-backs: Large, strong panels with fewer joints virtually eliminate settling issues common with stick framing (reduced drywall nails popping and stucco cracking). 
  • The SIPs can be delivered to the job site ready-to-assemble (RTA). They will come with pre-installed lumber and headers to maximize on-site speed and efficiency.
  • Faster/fewer inspections required.  

Environmental Performance:

  • Premier SIP systems produce less waste than traditional stick-framed building envelopes due to the factory precision cutting, up to 60% less waste to send to the landfills.
  • An airtight SIP building will use less energy to heat and cool and allow for better control over indoor environmental conditions. 
  • By reducing the amount of energy used for heating and cooling, SIPs can significantly reduce emissions produced by our homes and commercial buildings. 
  • OSB skinned SIPs are made from a sustainable softwood product. They typically contain fast-growing softwoods (such as poplar and aspen) harvested on a tree farm when they are young, which is an environmentally friendly process. In a green society, this is important because using the newer and faster-producing trees spare old-growth forests. By protecting these old-growth hardwoods, OSB is generally referred to as a sustainable and renewable natural resource. 

In summary, if you build with SIPs, you will have a building that is strong, one that can stand up to natural disasters. You will also have an energy-efficient building, one that costs you a great less to heat or cool. You will have a home or building with better indoor air quality, which means a healthier shelter for your family or business. You will be able to build it faster, with smaller crews. You will help the environment by putting less waste in landfills and by reducing emissions. Ants work together to help survive these natural disasters. Building with SIPs will help you do the same.

If you have questions about SIPs or SIPs construction, please contact me at


  1. Sal 2 years ago

    Are these products available and accepted in Yakima WA USA

  2. Natalie 2 years ago

    Do I need a specialized architect to design these into my house, or could an architect that has mostly designed stick frame homes do a good job? Same goes with a framing crew – do I need a crew that is trained and experienced with SIPS, or would a standard crew be able to correctly install these?

    • Becky Susan 2 years ago

      Any architect can design as normal and we can convert to SIPS. However there are advantages for Architects to design with SIPS to take advantage of some of the features (cathedral ceilings being one). We are happy to consult with any architect working on designs!

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