Anyone considering building a timber frame home will quickly learn about stress skin panel enclosures systems or SIPS (structural insulated panels). These laminated insulation panels utilize solid foam insulation and offer a very high R value. Pre-fabricated SIPS attach to the outside of the timber frame and create an uninterrupted insulating skin.
Consequently, panels keep the house warmer in the winter months and cooler in the summer. Unlike standard stick framed homes with infill fiberglass insulation, stress skin panels do not have thermal bridging through stud framing that interrupts the insulation or convective loss of heat from air circulating within the insulation.
As a system, stress skin panels are compatible with any type of interior or exterior surface finish. There are many ways in which wiring can be run through joints and chases, or on the exterior of the frame in conjunction with the installation of the panels.
The panels can accommodate any window size or opening configuration, and they can be attached easily to existing homes in the case of timber frame additions. These versatile enclosure systems are frequently installed by the manufacturer‚Äôs professional crew.
Other enclosure systems that are very compatible with timber frames include Larsen Trusses and straw bale wall enclosure systems. Larsen Trusses are lightly framed ‚Äúladder type‚Äù trusses that attach to the exterior of the timber frame, have very minimal thermal bridging, and can be insulated with high density cellulose insulation or sprayed in place foam insulation. These trusses can be site manufactured to fit the timber frame and window placement specifications.
Straw bale wall construction systems have a long history in the American prairie. This traditional insulation system has been adapted into a well detailed enclosure envelope that is built on the outside of the timber frame. Bales are then plaster finished on the inside, and stuccoed finished on the outside with a stunning organic look. The exterior can also be finished with conventional wooden sidings.
We have also used built up insulation on roofs where the design of the house makes this option feasible.
For projects that do not require insulation like barns, outbuildings, gazebos, pavilion, etc., other ways of enclosing the structure are feasible, such as traditional board and batten siding.