If I were ever to do it again, or perhaps build a cabin or to offer advice to someone who wants to build a cabin in Maine, I would most definitely and with all my power, lean towards building the structure with SIPs. A “SIP” is a “structural insulated panel” and is in the most basic sense, a piece of foam sandwiched between to pieces of wood. It’s really not worth me trying to explain what these things are when there are videos that can do a better job. Check this one out.
Here’s the thing with this type of construction – it’s really good. I know, that’s not much of an explanation. I’ll also say that they are perfect for somewhere cold like Maine and here’s why:
– They are relatively air-tight, which matters because much of the cold that gets in a house comes through the walls and through the fiberglass insulation.
– They are continuously insulated, meaning there are virtually no “thermal bridges” or otherwise known as wall studs.
– They insulate very well when compared to the same thickness of fiberglass insulation.
– They are strong in that they have much more material in between the inner and outer walls.
A few days ago, I read that up to 50% (my guess is more) of cold air comes into a home through gaps, cracks and openings. Add that to thermal bridging and a low r-value and you’ve got yourself a nasty time trying to find a variety of heat sources. This is why I say that if I had advice for someone who wanted to move to a cold climate, don’t waste your time with traditional stick built houses. Go straight for the SIPS.
But wait – what if someone such as myself doesn’t want one of those regular ol’ sheetrock homes? What if they love wood and a log cabin or traditional cabin feel? Well, you can easily accomplish what you’re looking for with simple pine tongue and groove interior walls and log cabin type exterior siding. And I’ve got the perfect example picture for you.
Can you imagine building a cozy little house that looks like a log cabin and that has virtually no cold spots? the floors are insulated, the walls and ceilings are insulated. Everything is insulated so well that if the power goes out in the middle of a cold January night, you might not notice the heat is off until noon the next day. Now that’s what I call taking some of the stress out of moving to a cold climate.