It’s not the sexiest part of the homebuilding process, but integrity of the walls is clearly one of the most critical. I’ve worked on homes with a variety of construction methods: timber frame, conventional (2×6 studs on 16-inch centers), and straw bale, to name a few.
There are benefits to each, but I recommend Murus structural insulated panels (SIPs) over the alternatives. Murus, a sister company founded in 1987 by Steve Keller who also founded Woodhouse, was born to manufacture the highest quality panels available in the industry. Murus supplies all the panels for our Woodhouse Timber Frame Homes and are one of the top five SIPs manufacturers in the world.
To get an idea of what this means, SIPs panels replace typical studs, exterior plywood, and fiberglass insulation found in conventional frame construction. A SIPs panel is a sandwich of polystyrene or polyurethane foam that is injected between two pieces of OSB*. They grew to prominence in the timber frame industry where durable and structural units were needed to span wider than traditional 16-inch centers.
Overall, Murus SIPs panels excel in three critical areas: structural strength, insulation, and design flexibility. They go up quickly and save time in installation.
A common misperception is the cost of a SIPs home. A Murus SIPs panel home may cost more than a conventional stick frame, however, the money saved in labor costs can be significant, often enough to sufficiently offset the increase in materials. Also, don’t underestimate the long-range savings of a highly energy efficient space. Murus SIPs panels offer the highest R-value and energy efficiency of any effective timber frame enclosure system and greatly outperform fiberglass, cellulose, and other types of foam insulation.
- They are energy efficient. The enclosure is three to five times tighter than a conventional enclosure (more info at www.murus.com), and nearly eliminates thermal breaks found in a conventional stick built home.
- Polystyrene and polyurethane are synthetic substances, but Murus SIPs panels contain no formaldehydes, CFCs or HCFCs, all of which are indoor air quality contaminants and known carcinogens.
- SIPs panels display high fire resistance. Murus has three foam core choices, each with a Class I fire rating. Without the cavities of conventional construction, there is less oxygen to feed the spread of a fire.
- Murus SIPs panels add points for LEED, Energy Star and NAHB certification.
- SIPs panels are ordered to specification and are pre-cut for openings at the factory, thereby reducing jobsite waste.
If you’re a homeowner or a builder in Southwest Colorado interested in finding out more information about Murus SIPs panels, or Woodhouse Timber Frame Homes, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Outside of the region, check out the Murus contact page.
*OSB is oriented strand board. Often compared to plywood, OSB is stronger; has greater shear strength; is more consistent in strength across its span; and can be manufactured from smaller, farmed trees. Read more at: http://www.pathnet.org.