FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Below is a list of questions we are frequently asked. Click on each question in order to get the answer. Feel free to contact us with additional questions you may have:
858-565-1694 or e-mail David@KwikBuildPanels.com.
- Why is Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) increasingly being used in the construction industry? How long has it been used as part of the thermal envelope?
- What are the advantages of using steel as the structural element of Kwik-Build Panels?
- Why do Kwik-Build Panels resist termites, ants and wood boring insects?
- Has the Kwik-Build Panel System been third-party tested and does it comply with local building codes?
- Will my project require special engineering?
- What is the significance of ‘Tongue and Grove’(T&G) connecting Kwik-Build Panels to each other?
- How are electrical wiring and plumbing installed in Kwik-Build Panels?
- What about changes and field modifications?
- What is the average lead-time for Kwik-Build Panels to reach my job site?
- Does the Kwik-Build Panel system require special materials for external and internal finishes?
- How can I get an estimate done on my project?
- Is technical support provided once panels are delivered to the job site?
- Why are uninterrupted Air Barriers an important aspect of high performance building envelopes and therefore, a key benefit of Kwik Build Panels?
- What is the significance of EPS’ low moisture absorptive properties?
- What is the difference between fire retardant and fire resistance?
- What is meant by “hourly rating” for fire resistance?
- Have Kwik-Build Panels been fire tested as assemblies?
- How do Kwik-Build Panels behave in earthquake conditions?
- How does Kwik-Build Panels technology stand up to high winds?
- What are the main differences between Kwik-Build Panels and Structural Insulated Panels made of wood sheathing (OSB) and foam core?
- What is the cost comparison of Kwik-Build Panels system vs. traditional construction?
1. Why is Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) increasingly being used in the construction industry? How long has it been used as part of the thermal envelope?
EPS is made of styrene. Styrene-based plastics are derived from benzene, originally obtained from trees and used to make tires. Styrene is now synthesized artificially. Its popularity gained momentum in the construction industry due to its key characteristics:
- Stability – It withstands freeze/thaw cycling without losing structural integrity or other physical properties.
- Readily available, inexpensive and extremely versatile.
- Its high strength to weight ratio can’t be beat.
- Its durability & stability is unmatched.
- Water resistance.
- It is chemically inert and does not provide food value for termites, insects, parasites, mold or mildew.
- Does not contain ozone-depleting chemicals
- OSHA compliant and respects the most stringent environmental standards.
2. What are the advantages of using steel as the structural element of Kwik-Build Panels?
Steel has come to the forefront as one of the best and most reliable building materials for residential and commercial construction for many reasons:
- Steel has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any building material. (When combined with EPS’ equally high strength to weight ratio, a powerful assembly is created, superior in structural capacity, yet light, safe and easy to work with.
- 100% recyclable
- 85 % industry recycling rate
- Non-combustible, does not burn, nor contribute fuel to spread of fire.
- Inorganic — It will not rot, warp, split or crack.
- More dimensionally stable than wood – does not expand or contract with moisture content.
- Consistent quality – Steel framing components are produced in strict accordance with National standards. There are no regional variations.
3. Why do Kwik-Build Panels resist termites, ants and wood boring insects?
Mold, termites and other insects need three elements to thrive: air, a food source and moisture. EPS provides no food value and remains dry. This is particularly significant in warm, damp regions, where insulation materials that absorb and wick moisture through their open cell structure, provide a perfect medium for mold and insect proliferation.
4. Has the Kwik-Build Panel System been third-party tested and does it comply with local building codes?
Yes. Extensive testing has been performed by certified independent laboratories. The panels have been tested for axial loading, transverse loads, racking shear and fire.
The following evaluation reports have been issued:
Specialized Testing: Axial Load Test
Specialized Testing: Racking Shear Test
Specialized Testing: Transverse Load Test
QAI Laboratories: Flammability Test NFPA 286
IAPMO Evaluation Report: #0274
5. Will my project require special engineering?
Basic engineering is incorporated into panel design. However, special design circumstances may require additional
engineering. This can be handled by the owner’s project engineer or for an additional fee, one can be provided by
6. What is the significance of ‘Tongue and Groove’ (T&G) joints in connecting Kwik-Build Panels to each other?
The tongue and groove interlocking joints used for panel-to-panel connections are designed for optimum strength and stability. They are critical to a well-constructed high performance building envelope by preventing air leaks through exterior walls. This contributes to sustainable design features, such as:
- Maximum energy efficiency.
- Sustaining long term thermal and acoustic comfort.
- Maintaining healthy indoor air quality.
7. How are electrical wiring and plumbing installed in Kwik-Build Panels?
Pre-molded open electrical chase ways are incorporated into the EPS core of the panel during fabrication, according to AutoCAD plans. (More time and labor savings!). Electricians and plumbers familiar with commercial steel stud construction adjust quickly and easily to working with Kwik-Build Panels because it simplifies their work. Additional chases for wiring and plumbing are easily formed in the field, using a hot knife – much like a hot knife cutting through butter.
8. What about changes and field modifications?
Using readily available tools, modifications are easily made. An assembly manual is provided with full instructions for field adjustments. Also, phone or e-mail technical assistance is readily available.
9. What is the average lead-time for Kwik-Build Panels to reach my job site?
4 to 6 weeks after the order has been placed. For effective use of time, site preparation and foundation work can be completed by the builder whilst waiting for panel delivery.
10. Does the Kwik-Build Panel system require special materials for external and internal finishes?
No! In fact, standard finishes typically require less effort to apply due to the dimensionally stable, straighter, smoother wall surfaces that Kwik-Build Panels provide, compared to traditional framing. Any standard exterior or interior finishes can easily be attached directly to the 16″ or 24″-on-center metal studs, such as drywall on interior surfaces and cement-based plasters, wood or stone on the exterior.
11. How can I get an estimate done on my project?
Since project specifications and structural load requirements dictate size and types of panels manufactured, our standard policy is to provide estimates from dimensioned architectural drawings that must include a floor plan, elevations and roof plan, with rough opening sizes for doors and windows.
12. Is technical support provided once panels are delivered to the job site?
Yes. A representative of Kwik-Build Panels is available to provide you and/or your Contractor with technical assistance as needed. A detailed set of shop drawings, indicating the numerical sequence of panels and an assembly manual are provided for ease of assembly. Typically, work crews pick up the gist of installation pretty quickly. If needed, additional support personnel can be assigned on a per diem basis.
13. Why are uninterrupted Air Barriers an important aspect of high performance building envelopes & therefore, a key benefit of Kwik-Build Panels?
According to air barrier experts, controlling energy costs begins with controlling air leakage into and out of buildings. So essentially, a high-performance building envelope can be considered part of the heating/cooling and ventilation system. The more effective the thermal envelope is, the smaller heating and cooling loads are.
Since heating/cooling, lighting and maintenance make up as much as 85 percent of a building’s life cycle costs, those costs are essentially locked in during the design phase. Therefore, selecting high performing systems influences long term cost benefits – before construction even begins. Not only are operating costs reduced, but day-to-day occupant comfort is vastly improved as a result of consistent ambient temperatures and relative humidity.
14. What is the significance of EPS’ low moisture absorptive properties?
Absorption of moisture by insulation materials is partly responsible for some of the variations between published R-values and actual R-values. While fiberglass insulation may have a better initial R-value when tested in the Lab, actual results change quickly in field studies, indicated with thermographic photography. As stated by Oak Ridge National Lab – Dep’t of Energy, “Of all the materials used for insulation, closed cell Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is one of the most resistant to the adverse effects of moisture. Unlike other insulation materials, which are easily penetrated by moisture under critical vapor flow conditions, the thermal performance of EPS is only marginally affected by condensation. Even if condensation develops through improper use, EPS will retain its dimensional stability and superior insulation values for the life of the structure”. Furthermore, the elimination of water vapor diffusion into walls and roofs reduces the potential for mold growth.
15. What is the difference between fire retardant and fire resistance?
A fire retardant material slows burning across the surface of a combustible substrate.
A fire resistive material delays heat penetration through a substrate.
16. What is meant by “hourly rating” for fire resistance?
Wall construction is classified as 4-hour, 3-hour, 2-hour, 1-hour or ‘non-rated’ construction, through standardized testing. An assembly is exposed to heat and flame on one side and tests for heat transmission, burn-through, structural integrity and ability to withstand a hose stream from a fire hose are determined. Hourly Ratings are assigned only to “complete assemblies” of structural materials for buildings, (wall, floor, door, ceiling, roof, etc.) and generally require use of a noncombustible membrane, such as gypsum or masonry, etc. Hourly ratings are NOT assigned to any one single component of a complete assembly such as a paint coating, wall covering or other single building material. There is no such thing as a paint coating, additive or treatment that can be applied to any wall or ceiling configuration, which will give a 1, 2 or 3 hour rating.
17. Have Kwik-Build Panels been fire tested as assemblies?
Yes. In addition to being systems tested for surface burning characteristics, smoke development, room fire tests and hourly fire test ratings, Kwik-Build Panels have been tested as a wall system with ½” gypsum wallboard thermal barrier for 1-hour fire rating.
18. How do Kwik-Build Panels behave in earthquake conditions?
All projects, regardless of construction methods, must be engineered to meet local seismic codes. However, because of the relative lightweight-to-strength ratio of Kwik-Build Panels, their dynamic and reactive forces are minimized. According to the National Information Service for Earthquake Engineering at UC Berkeley, “The smaller the reactive masses, the smaller the earthquake forces will be. In seismic resistant construction, “The use of unnecessary masses should be avoided. Any mass used in the building should have a seismic-resistant function. Structural steel, while equally stiff per unit weight as any other traditional constructional material, provides significantly better resilience, ductility and toughness per unit weight than concrete and masonry materials in resisting earthquake forces”.
Kwik-Build Panels technology has been seismically tested by ‘Mother Nature’. In August 1993, an 8.1 earthquake, measured on the Richter scale, devastated Guam. Hotels and bridges were destroyed. Other than hairline cracks to exterior stucco, minimal damage to housing stock that had been built with Kwik-Build Panels technology were reported.
19. How does Kwik-Build Panels technology stand up to high winds?
During 1995 Hurricane Luis, the Caribbean Island of Anguilla sustained 175 mph winds for nearly 10 hours. Windows in the Airport Control Tower designed to withstand 200 mph winds were all blown out. The only damage to a transmitter station built with a similar system (albeit less robust) as Kwik-Build Panels technology was caused by a 40 ft. container that was picked up, overturned and thrust 20 feet into the corner of the building. “Two corner panels were damaged and replaced without compromising structural integrity. Minor water leaks occurred around the door, but the multi-million dollar transmitter installation suffered no interior damage”. A thorough inspection yielded no other signs of structural damage.
20. What are the main differences between Kwik-Build Panels and Structural Insulated Panels made of wood sheathing (usually OSB) and foam core?
Although similar in thermal effectiveness, SIPs weigh considerably more than Kwik-Build Panels. This additional weight alone makes them more costly, necessitating:
- Heavy equipment and their operators to transport panels to job site.
- Specialized labor and heavy equipment for panel installation at job site.
Independent of window or door openings:
SIPS weigh approximately 4.2 lbs to 4.6 lbs/SF of panel, depending on thickness.
5 ½” Kwik Build Panels weigh 1.75 lbs/SF about 2 ½ times less.
- 4 ½” thick panels: 4.2 lbs/SF =135 lbs. for a 4’ x 8’ panel
- 6 ½” thick panels: 4.6 lbs/SF =147 lbs. for a 4’ X 8’ panel
Kwik-Build Panels are under one third the weight – easy to transport and install – without costly skilled labor or
heavy equipment and their operators.
- 5 ½” thick panel: 1.75 lbs/SF = 56 lbs for a 4’ X 8’ panel – equivalent to just about a 5-gallon bucket of paint.
21. What is the cost comparison of Kwik-Build Panels system vs. traditional construction?
Initial costs are very comparable, considering that a one-step installation replaces four separate operations of conventional construction: structural capacity, insulation, sheathing, vapor and air barrier assembly. But more importantly, is the Life Cycle Energy savings as a result of a higher quality, longer lasting, resistant thermal envelope. And don’t forget to factor in the 28-35% waste factor in wood construction, when trades people sort, cull and cut lumber to size, discarding unused portions in landfills, adding further transport and dump fees.