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Panelized Wall Systems: Making the Connections

A page from Appendix A includes photographs and technical drawings.

August 2006

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Panelized Wall Systems: Making the Connections

This report is helpful to builders and codes officials.According to Automated Builder magazine, panelized housing construction now accounts for 45% of the "building systems" activity in the U.S. Structural insulated panels were adopted into the IRC this May, but many panelized systems must still conduct additional engineering to show equivalency to the locally adopted building codes, adding another step (and more expense) to using them on smaller projects. This report begins the process of getting more types of panelized wall systems recognized in the building codes.

The report divides 12 panelized wall systems into four categories: metal panel, concrete panel, wood SIPs, and wood open-wall panel. Based on current construction techniques and the intent of structural building codes, the report identifies acceptable materials and allowances for connectors in the various panelized systems. This makes it easier for builders to assess the risks and benefits of various panel systems, and for codes inspectors to know what they are looking for on site visits. Having widely accepted guidelines for connections will also come in handy for those wanting to develop new panelized wall systems.

Report findings are organized into reference tables, making it easy for builders to compare and contrast characteristics of the different systems.

A worker easily manuevers a wall panel.

Performance Standard Criteria

In the main body of the report, Performance Standard Criteria are organized by the four panel types.

Want to use a panelized wall system, but you have an inexperienced crew? A quick reference to the handy Performance Standard Criteria shows that concrete panels allow the most leeway with connection tolerances (1/2 inch).

Panel Connections Comparison Matrix A weld-plate typical of some concrete panel wall systems.

Appendix A, Panel Connections Comparison Matrix, organized by manufacturer and panel type, shows physical characteristics, performance characteristics, and connection interface information for each of the 12 systems studied. This section includes excellent photographs and technical drawings to give readers a firm understanding of connection mechanisms, installation techniques, wall-to-floor interfaces, and more.


Panel Manufacturer Matrix

Appendix B, Panel Manufacturer Matrix, is a one-page table that lays out in an easy-to-read format each of the 12 panel systems that were studied. Organized by panel type (metal, concrete, etc.), the table lists the manufacturers and provides a brief description of their products.

Content updated on 7/10/2007

Related Resources
Modular and Green
PATH Report: Builders Can Break From Tradition
PATH Framing, Panels and Whole House Systems Publications
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