Insulation for Timber Frame Buildings

Timber frame walls are usually insulated with rigid foam insulation sheets cut to fit the space between each stud. These sheets are available in a variety of R-values at building supply outlets. Rigid foam insulation sheets can be either polyisocyanurate (PIR) or polyurethane foam and can achieve impressive U-values.

However, the rigid timber frame external wall insulation do not adapt well to the various shapes of the timber studs and so air gaps are likely to form. Studies have shown that air gaps are a significant cause of energy loss. This is why some builders prefer to use mineral wool insulation between the studs. It is very easy to cut to fit the studs and it will spring back against the edges of the void, closing off the gap and eliminating any opportunity for warm air to escape.

Another way of enclosing a timber frame is with Structural Insulated Panels, or SIPS. These panels are factory prefabricated and offer excellent R-values, reduce thermal bridging and are very easy to install. They can be used on both timber and conventional framed walls but are especially effective for wall constructions in which the timbers will be exposed to exterior elements.

Insulation for Timber Frame Structures: Enhancing Efficiency

Whether SIPS or traditional insulation are chosen for a project the most important thing to remember is that all insulation must be kept dry. Moisture is the enemy of all insulation and once it gets wet it stops working. This means that good design, the use of appropriate materials and good detailing is essential.

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