Builders: SIPs Tips & Training

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How to Install a SIPs Structure

Most projects are delivered to the jobsite pre-fabricated per your floor plans. Windows, doors and archways are pre-cut when you install the panels. Wall, roof and floor SIP panels arrive numbered for simplified installation.

When installing the walls, it is usually best to organize the panels in the approximate location or sequence of their final installation. Keep the bottoms of the panels toward the bottom plate and leave about three feet of room near the plate. It is best to have at least two people to install a wall under 10'-0" and a minimum of 3-4 people for walls over 12'-0".

Once panels are being raised into place, someone can apply Premier Mastic to the seams while others can be plumb up the walls and nailing them off. Panels can be nailed between each other at a later time. The headers can be installed after the wall panels are assembled.  Window bucks can also be installed after the wall panels are assembled. Detailed wall, roof and floor installation instructions are also available.

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How to Install a Ridge Cap

Premier Ridge Cap Details is a great reference for Ridge Cap installation. When installing a ridge cap, it is critical to seal the area where the two bottom skins meet at the ridge. Use a liberal amount of Premier Panel Mastic and seal off this area completely. Make sure to also seal off any other penetrations into the panels at this location. Pay particular attention to the joints of the panels making sure that no air movement can occur at these joints.

Then place the sealant at the locations shown on the Premier Ridge Cap Details reference. Install the proper size of dimensional lumber and nail off the top skin as shown. The bottom of the 2x can be toe nailed into the bearing beam below. Rip and cut 7/16" OSB sheathing and seal down all edges to the existing foam. Use the screws as illustrated and affix the sheathing as shown. If large voids are found during installation use a low expanding foam sealant to fill them. Cover the entire ridge cap with an ice and water shield type of product and lap over the existing panels on both sides of the ridge.

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How to Install Top & Bottom Plates

After your sub-floor or slab is ready, lay out your bottom plates around the perimeter of the floor 7/16" from the edge. If you have a sub-floor, drill holes in the bottom plate to allow access to the vertical electrical chases in the wall panels.

Next, stand your wall SIPs - see standing walls. After your walls are standing, insert your top plates into the recesses at the top of the wall. Keep the top plate continuous between panels. After the panels are standing on the bottom plates and the top plates are inserted, use 8d nails (or equivalent) to attach the panel to the top plate from both sides of the panel.

Drill holes in the top plate to allow access to the vertical electrical chases in the wall panels.

Engineered lumber is available as an upgrade during fabrication.

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How to Install Platform/Balloon Framing

Platform framing and balloon framing usually pertain to structures of two, or more, stories. Platform framing is the most commonly used method to use in typical SIPs construction when panels are the structural elements in the building, and when the second-floor system is placed directly over the first floor walls. Panels have a higher axial load capacity (the load comes down on top of the panels) when the floor system or roof system is placed directly on top of the walls below.

Balloon framing is most commonly used in two applications, timber frames or tall walls, such as stairways that go through two or more floors of a building. In these applications, the wall panels are not typically being used to support heavy floor loads.

Always consult with your engineer of record concerning your specific design requirements when using Premier SIPs.

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How to Install Insul-Lam

Insul-Lam is used as a non-structural nail base in either a one-layer or two-layer system. For a two-layer system, the installation is the same as that for a one-layer system, except for the staggering of the the joints between the first and second layer.

It will be necessary to remove 1 1/2 inches of EPS from the edge of the Insul-Lam sheets that create the edge of the roof assembly. Removal of the EPS should take place with a heating element set to the proper depth.

Begin by snapping a chalk line 1 1/2 inches around the perimeter of the roof deck. The Insul-Lam should be flushed to the line. Begin laying the sheets together while applying a bead of Premier Panel Mastic (sealant) on all foam to foam joints prior to installing the adjacent panel. Once an Insul-Lam sheet is in position, fasten the assembly to the deck with Big SIPs Screws following the screw pattern shown on Premier Vented/Non-Vented Insul-Lam details, or the spacing and frequency determined by engineering.

Install lumber into the offset created around the perimeter of the roof. Nominal 2X material should be inserted into the reveal after Premier SIPs Adhesive has been extruded onto the EPS of the Insul-Lam panel. Once inserted attach with 8d nail 6" o.c.

Once all Insul-Lam panels have been installed and fastened, roofing material may be installed per the roofing material manufacturer's instructions.

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How to Install Insul-Beam

Measure the total depth of header required and add any sheathing or plating to achieve this dimension. Make sure to allow room for the panel top plate to be continuous over the window opening.

Take a measurement to determine how long the header needs to be.  Cut the header 1/8" short of this dimension, avoiding the nails in this header the nails that are in this header. Apply Premier SIPs Mastic to the insides of the opening. Make sure that the trimmers are installed in the wall panels on both sides of the opening. Drop the Insul-Beam horizontally into the opening.

Do not nail the panel skins to this header yet. If required. cut your continuous top plate to go a minimum of 1'-0" (3'-0" is better) past each side of the opening. Apply the appropriate panel mastic, install the top plate and nail the top plate into the Insul-Beam first with 2-12d nails 12" on center. Attach the panel skins to both sides of the top plate before  attaching them panels skins to the header. This method helps to insure that your wall remains straight. Fir out both sides of the Insul-Beam with 7/16" sheathing to match the thickness of the panels.

Refer to Premier Insul-Beam Header Details for additional information.

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How to Attach Premier SIPs to Timber Frame

There are a number of ways that SIPs can be installed on a timber frame.

If a crane is convenient, most people will install the sheet rock to the SIP panel before the crane arrives. If the panels are being set by hand, the sheetrock can be temporarily attached to the timber frame while the panels are being set.  A crane is usually a much faster and safer way to install SIPs on timber frames.

Another option is to use standoffs or spacers over the timbers that are narrower to the timbers, but at least 4 inches wide.  The panels are set and attached to the timbers:  and the interior finish, such as dry wall or tongue and grove material, can be installed after the structure is dried.  The spacers allow the interior finishes to be slipped behind the timbers.

The wall panels are set first. Start at a corner and place panels proceeding away from the corners. Place the proper plating in the first panel after the mastic has been applied, and nail it off. Make sure the panel is plumb and then attach it to the frame.  Use Big SIPs Screws spaced a minimum of 2' on center. Drive the Big SIPs Screw with a 1/2" driver drill.  Avoid crushing the OSB skin, which should only be slightly compressed.

If the screw head goes through, remove it and re-install it in a nearby location. Start to go down one of the walls by placing two beads of Premier Mastic on both sides of the splines (before you install it), near their outside edges. (See Spline Connection Details- Premier 005.) Place the spline into the recess on the standing panel, making sure,  the mastic is facing the wood on both sides of the panel. Place Premier Mastic on the plate and vertically up the standing SIP panel. Make sure the SIP wall is set (the horizontal electrical chases should be closer to the bottom).

To place the next SIP, hold one end out approximatley 6" away from the standing panel and then tip the top (or the bottom) of the SIP panel to engage the spline recess full depth. Use a type of scissors action to slide the panel into the existing one.  Trucking ratchet straps or bar clamps can enable the panels to fit together snugly. Allow 1/8" gap between the panels. Attach this panel to the timber frame as before and nail or screw off the panel joints on both sides (as shown in Spline Connection Details, P-005 and Typical Timber Frame Details-Premier_003). Continue to the end of the wall and trim the last SIP panel (if required).

Roof SIP panels are installed in a similar manner but generally all roof SIPs are set with a crane. Cranes will use an eye-hook or some other method to pick up the SIPs. Check with your salesman to see what is used locally.

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How to Install Drywall on SIPs

Drywall is installed on SIP panels in same way as it is installed on dimensional lumber framed products, but the process is easier, as there is no need to search for studs in a SIP panel, and the walls are straight and consistent.

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