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No More Tape Measures: The Simple Process of SIP Installation

With so many skilled laborers who have left the workforce over the past few years, many architects and builders are exploring alternative approaches to structural systems. The need: a simpler-to-install yet effective building system.

Structural insulated panels (SIPs) provide a three-in-one solution: a building’s structure, insulation, and air barrier. One crew installing SIPs takes the place of multiple crews and work schedules for those three functions. And SIPs arrive at the job site pre-cut and labeled, ready for installation according to building plans.

Depending on the size of your project, this could mean streamlined construction and time savings of days, weeks, or even months.

But exactly how fast can they go up? Sometimes in as little as one day. Check out the video below of a crew that installed exterior walls and roof panels on a 1,900-square-foot home in a single day.




Why Are SIPs So Easy to Install?

With SIP structures, you get the framing, sheathing, and insulation all in one. The panels can be sent to the site ready to assemble (RTA). They come pre-installed with lumber and headers to maximize on-site speed and efficiency.

Here are the key reasons why SIPs offer faster installation and substantial time and labor savings compared to traditional stick framing:

Prefabricated Panels

SIPs are manufactured in controlled factory environments, where precision panel cutting takes place on enormous computer numerical control (CNC) routers, which offer 99.9% accuracy.

Doors and window openings are cut per each floor plan. This offsite fabrication process ensures the panels are accurately sized, eliminating the human error element we often experience with site-framed measuring and cutting.

The finished panels are also delivered to the construction site ready for installation, reducing the time spent on material preparation.

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Easy On-Site Assembly Process

The installation of SIPs involves a straightforward and streamlined assembly process because of pre-planning. Before panels are manufactured, drafters create SIP layout drawings, which are reviewed by the purchaser of the SIPs, the builder, the engineer, and any other involved parties.

After the completion and approval of the layout drawings, the SIPs are manufactured and delivered to the construction site for installation. Here is a handy checklist on how to review drawings.

When delivered to the jobsite, the panels are designed to interlock and fit together easily, like an enormous jigsaw puzzle, resulting in reduced labor and construction time. The connections between panels are called splines and are insulated to further add to a building’s energy efficiency.

Since SIPs incorporate pre-cut openings for windows, doors, and other penetrations during the manufacturing process, the requirement for on-site cutting and framing is further eliminated, accelerating the installation of these elements.

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Time and Labor Savings

The combination of prefabrication and simplified on-site assembly makes SIPs significantly faster to install compared to traditional stick framing. The reduced construction time translates into labor cost savings, as fewer hours are required for installation, as well as reduced project overhead costs.


What to Expect With SIP Installation

When you purchase a SIP package from Premier, your SIPs arrive with your finalized set of SIP layout drawings, which include the dimensions of each panel. These drawings will show you where every SIP goes, where they connect, and where the minimal amount of lumber is required.

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Any additional construction details are also included in your project’s layout drawings, such as how and where to apply sealant, tape, and fasteners to ensure your SIPs building is built tight and strong.

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If you hire a crew to install your SIPs, typically, a five-person crew is optimal. With two people installing, two people preparing the next SIP for installation, and one person applying the sealant, cutting what little lumber is required, and helping lift the panels into place, the SIPs will be up in no time.

This installation preparation document will help guide your team to be prepared for jobsite delivery, panel setup, tool needs, and more best practices.


SIP Installation in Action

4-Person Crew Installed 2,200 Sq. Ft. of SIP Roof Panels

No need for a skilled team of framers to install this structural insulated panel roof in Leavenworth, Washington.

  • Architect/Homeowner: Alison McLellan of Syndicate Smith LLC (this is a personal project; Syndicate Smith was not involved in the design process)
  • SIP Specs: 2,200 square feet of 12″ SIP roof panels with a factory laminated 1/2″ ACX plywood interior finish skin and pre-installed insulated I-joists
  • Installation Crew: 4-person crew, plus boom operator
  • Roof Panel Installation Time: 13 hours

Interior Finish skin2 lo

Washington State School Chooses SIPs for Their Rapid Installation

One particular growth area for SIPs is public and private schools. Educational facility project teams choose SIPs for their energy savings — and their rapid installation. Because school administrators often require new or replacement schools to be completed under strict schedules determined by the school year, rapid dry-in is a must.

According to the project manager for a new middle school in suburban Seattle, utilizing SIPs supported the strategies for energy savings and allowed for a smooth and rapid assembly process — shaving weeks off a tight construction schedule.

In some cases, the initial construction costs of SIP buildings are similar to other methods, especially when factoring in the fast cycle time and potentially lower subcontractor labor.


Structural Panels Are the Solution

When you want to build fast and efficiently, consider SIPs as your framing option.

SIPs offer a streamlined process and faster construction compared to traditional stick framing. So, say goodbye to the challenges associated with stick building — such as skilled labor shortages, imperfect bowed lumber, and errors in site framing — and embrace the benefits of SIPs for a smoother and more efficient construction experience.

Ready to get started? Find a Premier SIPS representative near you.

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As the oldest manufacturer in the SIPs industry, Premier’s SIP system is the proven prefabricated building envelope framing system for your next commercial or residential structure. Faster, stronger, and greener than outdated lumber framing methods, SIPs are the future of framing. Join the other thousands of structures built with SIPs, and contact the expert in your local region to get started.

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