Structural insulated panels (SIPs): structural principles and design

Structural insulated panels (SIPs): structural principles and design

Date Published

9 August 2022

Document Type





Structural insulated panels (SIPs) are composite Design > Engineer;ed products consisting of two high density facings, typically orientated strand board (OSB), which are bonded on both sides of a low density, cellular foam core. These prefabricated, high performance, lightweight building panels can be used in walls and roofs for residential and commercial buildings.

SIPs offer a good thermal and airtightness performance for structural applications where minimal thermal bridging is required. They are manufactured under closely controlled factory conditions and can be custom designed for each application. The result is a building system that is extremely strong, energy efficient and cost effective.

This Wood Information Sheet includes advice on:

structural and general erection principles
fire performance – design and construction
building modification, extension and repurposing.

Key Information

Currently, loadbearing SIP buildings can ne nuilt up to four storeys high.

With the correct design, standards of manufacture and workmanship there is no difficulty in SIP-based structures meeting the required levels of fire performance laid down by National Building Regulations.

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Case studies

In the secluded and ancient grounds of Worcester College, overlooking the college cricket pitch, stands the Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre, a beautifully crafted stone and oak pavilion.

Niall McLaughlin Architects has designed a new cafe at the end of the pier, commissioned in an RIBA competition. It is a simple timberframed glazed pavilion which gives all-round views to the sea; the timber structure is a repetitive form which resembles the skeleton of a beached whale or the ribs of a ship.