Structural Insulated Panels: Handling and Installation Tips

Structural insulating panels are important composite building materials in the construction and fabrication industry. The panels have an insulating core made from materials such as polyurethane, polystyrene and polyisocyanurate. This core is sandwiched between boards that are fabricated from common materials such as plywood, sheet metal or even cement. You can install these insulating structural panels in the roof and wall systems of your buildings as thermal insulators. They are also ideal for use in fabricating diverse structures including walk-in coolers, fire-resistant rooms, temperature controlled transportation containers and environmentally controlled agricultural sheds. If you are thinking about structural insulated panels installation in your project, consider using these tips on handling and installation.

Protect the Panels

Structural insulated panels are strong and durable, but they are vulnerable to harsh environmental conditions. Therefore, you should protect the products after purchase and before installation to prevent premature damage. You should never place the panels in direct contact with the ground surface because they can absorb unnecessary moisture, damaging the insulating core. Construct a platform to support the products properly until your contractor is ready to install them. You should note that the panels are bulky and considerably heavy, so you will require manpower and even lifting equipment when handling your materials. Finally, cover the panels with a sturdy polythene sheet or a loose tarp to prevent damage in bad weather.

Assemble in Order

It is advisable to engage an insulating contractor to set up the SIPs in your building, shed or container. However, if the project is relatively small, you can handle the entire scheme or some of the tasks. It is important to follow an orderly system when assembling the panels. You should first organise the panels in groups depending on where they will be installed. Use labels and study the installation drawings provided by the manufacturer for maximum efficiency. Place the panels along the walls of your structure according to the provided instructions. If the material is too long, you will need to trim for an ideal fit. However, you should ask your supplier about the best cutting technique to avoid expensive damage.

Seal the Panels

SIPs are designed to provide thermal insulation, so poor sealing will result in heat loss or gain. You will need to ensure that all joints are sealed to prevent air movement, particularly at the corner joints. You can achieve good results by installing flashing and applying sealants in potential areas of infiltration. Use the sealing techniques and products recommended by the manufacturer for perfect results.