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Learn about Magnesium Oxide Structural Insulated Panels

Magnesium Oxide Structural Insulated Panels

MgO SIPS (Magnesium Oxide Board Structural Insulated Panels) are high-performance building systems that consist of an insulating foam core sandwiched between two sheathing layers of magnesium oxide board. MgO SIPs are used for highly insulated walls, ceilings, and floors. Buildings made from SIPs are assembled significantly faster than stick-built homes, reducing on-site construction by several weeks. MgO sheathing is water-resistant, off-gasses no VOCs, and offers superior fire suppression when compared to portland cement and OSB (oriented strand board). The foam core can be made from extruded polystyrene foam (XPS), expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), polyisocyanurate foam, polyurethane foam, or be composite honeycomb (HSC).

Manufacturers sometimes overstate R-values, so consult multiple sources before buying. Untreated MgO absorbs water, so it is not suitable for exterior applications without proper weatherproofing. Ask your manufacturer or installer about the degree of water resistance, and be sure to consult reviews and testimonials before purchasing. Building with SIPs saves labor costs, but high-quality MgO SIPs are made with premium materials and come with additional expenses. There are several factors to consider when building with newer technology like MgO SIPs, so consult closely with your contractor and budget accordingly.

MgO is stronger than plywood, OSB, and particleboard. It doesn’t off-gas VOCs like OSB’s formaldehyde-laden glue. MgO has superior fire suppression characteristics when compared to portland cement, OSB, and plywood. MgO’s water-resistant characteristics make it more resistant to mold than plywood, OSB, and gypsum board.

MgO SIPs provide numerous health and safety benefits to homeowners. MgO itself is resistant to fire and mold and won’t off-gas harmful fumes. The SIPs are airtight and have no thermal bridges. Thick MgO SIPs provide superior comfort and efficiency without the need for additional insulation or air barrier. Homeowners concerned for their carbon footprint will like that SIP home construction drastically reduces construction waste, and reduces carbon emissions from transportation to and from the building site.