PATH Provides Tool to Evaluate Installation of Panel Systems
Builders who currently use, or are considering using, panelized wall systems can now quickly evaluate the ease of assembly between different systems through “Panelized Wall Systems: Making the Connections,” a report by the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) that establishes performance standard criteria to aid in the use and development of panelized systems.
Smaller 4x8 panel sections can be handled and installed easily.
SIPA (Structural Insulated Panel Association) photo.
The criteria, available free on the PATH Web site (pathnet.org), compare and contrast the dimensional tolerance levels when making panel connections during site assembly of concrete systems, metal systems, structural insulated panels (SIP) and wood open-wall systems. The criteria enable builders to determine the skill level needed to install the particular systems.
For instance, the tolerance level for most concrete systems is 1/2-inch, compared to metal or wood panel systems that are generally in the 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch tolerance range. Consequently, a builder with a workforce with a very low skill level might decide to use concrete wall systems over metal or wood systems that require closer tolerances to install them.
Or, a builder who is subject to more onsite inspections by local building officials may choose a wood open-wall system over a closed-wall SIP.
Other Performance Criteria at the Connection Evaluated
The report also indicates performance criteria for other types of performance at the connection, including: connection fire resistance, energy performance, moisture resistance, acoustical separation/insulation, air infiltration, connection durability and insect and vermin resistance.
“Making the Connections” also sets performance criteria for panel system compatibility with other panel connection systems and other house subsystems as well as conformance with applicable building codes.
Creating the Criteria
Panelized housing construction now accounts for 45% of the building systems activity in the U.S., according to Automated Builder magazine.
PATH collected and analyzed performance information on 12 different panelized wall systems in the four categories of systems to develop the criteria. The criteria cite performance standards based upon current codes as benchmarks for connections and system performance.
The report findings are organized into reference tables — making it easy for builders to quickly compare different systems and for codes inspectors to know what to look for on site visits.
SIPs were recently adopted into the International Residential Code (IRC) and are currently the only panelized system adopted into the code. PATH developed the performance criteria because many projects using other panelized systems must show equivalency to the locally-adopted building codes on a case-by-case basis and adding another step — and more expense — to using them on smaller jobs.
In addition, the guidelines for connections in the PATH report will help building professionals who are developing new panelized wall systems. Architects writing performance specifications will find the PATH performance criteria useful when comparing how different panel systems conform to relevant codes and other performance measures.
NAHB’s Buildings Systems Councils (BSC) has supported the PATH study and the development of the performance standard criteria for panelized wall systems.
Attend SHOWCASE 2007 on Oct. 28-31 in Hilton Head, S.C
Read “Making the Connections” prior to attending the Building Systems Councils SHOWCASE 2007, the premier systems-built industry education and networking event, at the Marriott Hilton Head Golf and Resort in South Carolina on Oct. 28-31.
The conference will address how panelized systems can be used in multi-family housing projects and how they can provide builders with an “in” to the green market.