FAQ – Panelized Building System

  • What is CerarMix Panelized Building Systems?

    CerarMix Panelized Building Systems are composite, high performance building panels for walls, roofs, and floors in residential and light commercial construction. CerarMix Panels have a core of rigid polyurethane, EPS, or NEOPOR EPS insulation that is sandwiched between two structurally rated skins of CerarMix panels. CerarMix Panels provide continuous structural integrity and superior insulation in one component. CerarMix Panels may be used in many types of construction and is most cost effective in the “Post and Beam” process.

  • Are CerarMix Panels as strong as conventional construction?

    CerarMix Panel construction is actually stronger than conventional construction because of CerarMix’s composite construction. A Panel’s configuration begins with galvalume framing and can be likened to a steel I-beam in which the CerarMix coated skins act as the flanges and the bio or foam core acts as the I-beam connective web that gives the composition cohesive strength and structural integrity. CerarMix structures have been tested and results show that CerarMix Panels out-perform conventional construction in strength and durability. Load testing for CerarMix flooring is rated at minimally 400# per square foot. Library floors are required to carry only 100# per square foot, thus showing the CerarMix superiority.

  • Is CerarMix Panel construction more expensive?

    The initial, up-front cost of CerarMix construction or materials over conventional construction or materials is typically a bit more, depending in part on the complexity of the design. However, there are real savings in labor time, and in construction waste volume reduction. A recent study by Reid Construction Data for BASF shows that residential builders can reduce their framing labor needs by as much as 55% by using panel construction. And when complete, a CerarMix Panel building envelope will continue to bring significant, welcome savings in heating and cooling energy use.

  • How much time can be saved building with CerarMix Panels?

    With an experienced CerarMix Panel installation crew, the time savings over conventional construction can be significant. The separate steps of framing, insulating, and sheathing are eliminated thanks to the composite construction of CerarMix Panels. Having window and door openings factory pre-cut speeds the installation process even further, and virtually eliminates panel construction waste.

  • How much labor can be saved with CerarMix Panels?

    A great deal of the labor involved in traditional construction methods is eliminated when building with CerarMix Panels as a result of their composite construction. A CerarMix Panel is framing, insulation, and sheathing in one prefabricated component. Once installed, CerarMix Panels are ready for interior and exterior finishing.

  • How much money can be saved with structural insulated panels?

    For a builder, savings come from decreased construction and labor costs. Additional savings can be attributed to reduced jobsite waste disposal and downsized HVAC equipment. For the end-user, savings come from significantly lower heating and cooling energy costs.

  • How much do CerarMix Panels cost?

    Pricing is determined based on the project – its complexity, the type and thickness of the bio or foam core required, and the square footage of panels needed. In order to determine a realistic, accurate cost, the standard procedure is to submit plans that include dimensions and elevations to ACTS CSI for a written estimate. While the resulting price may be slightly higher than conventional construction, the savings potential for building with CerarMix Panels should also be considered: labor, HVAC equipment, and jobsite waste disposal savings for the builder, and ongoing heating and cooling energy savings for the end user.

  • How are CerarMix Panels eco-friendly?

    CerarMix Panels are environmentally friendly in several respects. First, the high-performance CerarMix Panel building envelope creates a highly energy efficient environment that reduces the demand for heating and cooling energy. ACTS CSI CerarMix Panels can potentially contribute to points under the LEED Rating System and the NAHB Green Home Building Guidelines. The foams in ACTS CSI polyurethane and EPS panels contain no harmful blowing or expanding agents and do not pose a threat to the ozone layer. The composites used in CerarMix Panels are made of 98% recyclable materials. Factory production and pre-cutting of CerarMix Panels virtually eliminate panel scrap waste at the jobsite.

  • What is the R-value of CerarMix Panels?

    Typically, SIP Panel System R-values range from R-15 thru R-52, depending upon the panel foam core type and the overall thickness of the panel. What differentiates CerarMix Panel construction is that due to the CerarMix skin (1/8” thick) capability to reflect all types of climate reactors. 98% of all heat rays are reflected and 100% of radiant temperature factors are blocked. As a result, CerarMix Panels have NO R RATING. This is a good thing because the only reason we have no R rating is due to the fact that there is no rating high enough.

  • Why are Galvalume and composites used to frame the panel instead of OSB or plywood?

    Wafer board or plywood or any other form of natural material, requires nature to provide the source. Furthermore, the insulation and life expectancy factors are very low. The weight and handling of other materials also increases all costs from production to delivery to installation. The highest results for construction would be to use only CerarMix composites totally. I-beams and C-channels extruded of CerarMix are much stronger, and once certified as acceptable to building codes, this will further enhance many aspects of our products. Most countries around the world already allow for use of these components.

  • How strong is the CerarMix Panel?

    The strength and integrity of a CerarMix Panel has been fully tested, documented, and structurally rated by various labs and other agencies. Such reports are available on the ACTSCSI.com website.

  • Does the CerarMix Panel contain any Urea formaldehyde?

    No.

  • Does the Panel contain any Phenol formaldehyde?

    No.

  • When used, does the polyurethane foam contain formaldehyde?

    No.

  • When used, does the EPS foam contain formaldehyde?

    No.

  • Does the NEOPOR EPS foam contain formaldehyde?

    No.

  • Is there any danger of the foam off-gassing?

    No. There is a trace quantity of off-gassing which is emitted by the blowing (or expanding) agent during the manufacturing process. Once the manufacturing and curing processes are complete, the foam is stable and inert.

  • Will the foam degrade over time?

    The foam used in CerarMix Panels will not degrade over time. We are careful to use only the highest grade of foam available. Additionally, other forms of “filler” can be used where foam is overly expensive.

  • How is ACTS CSI polyurethane different than other manufacturers’ foam?

    The properties and characteristics of ACTS CSI Polyurethane are superior to Isocyanurate and Polyisocyanurate foams typically produced by board stock manufacturers and some other panel and SIP manufacturers. ACTS CSI’s proprietary manufacturing method is key to creating CerarMix Panels’ superior characteristics. Each panel is manufactured independently. Liquid foam is dispersed uniformly throughout the panel mold. The foam expands, exerting up to 14 psi of pressure, which is contained by the mold. During the expansion and containment process, the foam permanently bonds to the panel skins. The spherical cells produced provide uniform foam density throughout the panel, thus giving the foam superior and uniform strength, unlike the elongated, rice-shaped cells typically produced through the faster running continuous lamination lines in the production of Isocyanurate and Polyisocyanurate foams.

  • Which foam type is better - ACTS CSI polyurethane, EPS, or NEOPOR?

    In the USA marketplace no foam type is necessarily better than the other; rather, each foam type has unique properties and may offer advantages in certain instances. The primary differences between the three are the density and insulating characteristics of the foam. EPS foam density is a nominal 1 pound per cubic foot, NEOPOR EPS foam density is a nominal 1.15 pounds per cubic foot, and Polyurethane density is nominally 2.2 pounds per cubic foot. Therefore, a 4-1/2” thick EPS panel will yield an R-value of R-15; a 4-1/2” thick NEOPOR EPS panel will yield R-17, and a 4-1/2” thick PUR panel will yield R-27.

  • Have CerarMix Panels been thoroughly tested and do they have building code acceptance?

    Yes, and yes. CerarMix panels have been used in residential and commercial construction for over 20 years.

  • What does a Class 1 Fire Resistance Rating mean?

    Class 1 Fire Resistance Rating is given to materials that conform to test standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM E-84) for acceptable flame spread and smoke development for combustible construction materials. ASTM E-84 is a similar test to UL-723, NFPA 2255, or UBC 8-1. Testing is accomplished by suspending a sample of material in the tunnel of a horizontal test chamber. The material is exposed to gas flame on one end of the tunnel for 10 minutes. The flame progression on the material is compared to selected standards and calculations designed to produce a flame spread rating. Smoke from the fire in the tunnel is measured in the exhaust stack via a light beam to establish smoke developed ratings. There are three classes of acceptability for rigid foam used in construction: Class 3 is unacceptable, Class 2 is the minimum standard required for residential construction, and Class 1 is the best classification available. ACTS CSI CerarMix Panel foam cores meet the Class 1 Fire Resistance Rating.

  • What’s the difference in “stress skin,” “foam core sandwich,” and “structural insulated” panels?

    The terms “stress skin”, “foam or bio core sandwich”, and “structural insulated” panels (SIPs) all refer to the same product style and are interchangeable. The industry terminology has standardized and the term “SIPs” is most often used. However, “stress skin panels” and “foam core sandwich” panels are still popular terms among timber frame professionals. The only significant difference between manufacturers is their skin. Many unique, yet inefficient technologies have been introduced over the years. Without question, CerarMix skins rank much higher in every test to date, comparing various characteristics.

  • What other panel skin materials are available?

    Structurally rated oriented strand board (OSB) is typically the most common skin material. Other materials include plywood, cement board, metal, pressure-treated plywood, and pine cladding are the prominent products currently.

  • What style of structure can be built using CerarMix Panels?

    Just about any style of structure design can be built using CerarMix Panels. Most designs originally meant for conventional stick construction can be modified to incorporate CerarMix Panel construction, as well. Cost factors are directly related to “Customization” of the panel itself. We strive to utilize the “Legos” approach. Maintain minimal choices of panel configurations and unlimited capability to mix and match those standard sizes to deliver a customizable finished product.

  • How are CerarMix Panels installed?

    In structural applications, CerarMix Panels are typically installed over a 2x plate that is attached to the sill or subfloor. The foam core is removed from between the skins to a depth comparable to the plate so the panel sits over the 2x and connectors are driven through the skins into the 2x. Typically, a double 2x top plate is installed in the same manner. There are many variations on these procedures. A more economical method is to construct a post and beam skeleton and use the largest scan panels as possible. This reduces labor, materials, and provides the strongest finished results.

  • What supports the CerarMix Panel?

    In the majority of construction applications, CerarMix Panels need no additional support. When reinforcing support is required as in a point load under a beam or header, for example, corresponding dimensional galvalume can be easily designed into the panel during the manufacturing process. Furthermore, panels ranging in length of up to 60’ in length allow construction of buildings without limit to size. Without further engineering, CerarMix Panels can be used up to 7 stories tall.

  • Who handles the installation of the CerarMix Panel shell?

    ACTS CSI’s specially trained crews and CerarMix Certified general contractors or builders familiar with panelized building systems are typically responsible for panel shell installation. ACTS CSI can provide contact information for professionals experienced in CerarMix Panel installation in most regions.

  • Is there a learning curve for CerarMix Panel installation?

    The transition from conventional stick framing to CerarMix Panel installation would be easily accomplished by construction professionals with minimal supervision. Onsite technical assistance is available if needed, but is typically not necessary.

  • Why should I consider having my order factory pre-cut?

    There are several reasons. ACTS CSI uses state-of-the-art precision CNC (Computer Numerical Control) equipment to accurately cut your order according to the Panel Layout Drawing specifications. Factory pre-cutting markedly reduces installation time and virtually eliminates jobsite panel waste. Panel Layout drawings are included as part of the Panel Pre-cutting Service, and provide exact panel layout and placement specifications.

  • What equipment is needed to modify the panels?

    A circular saw, panel router (for polyurethane), or a hot knife or foam scoop (for EPS and NEOPOR EPS).

  • What supplies will be needed to install the panels (i.e., supplies not included with the CerarMix panels)?

    Mostly common building materials will be required. CerarMix Panel drawings will call out all engineered materials. Beyond this, you will need construction adhesive, common nails and screws, and other usual construction material. As even the largest panels are light weight enough for manual labor to easily handle them, installation does not require any special equipment, unless multi story building are being erected.

  • What foundation system should be used?

    Any foundation system that can be used for conventional construction can be used for CerarMix Panel construction. Whatever type of foundation system is employed, it is of utmost importance that it is straight, true, plumb, and square for a successful panel installation. Slabs, foundations, basements without floor trusts, or even CerarMix bases can be used.

  • What types of siding and exterior finishes and cladding may be used?

    Virtually any type of cladding or finishes may be applied to the exterior surface of a wall CerarMix Panel. Some common materials include a variety of vinyl siding, aluminum siding, and kiln dried wood sidings to include clapboard, shiplap, board and batten, and shingles. Exterior finishes should always be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended installation instructions. When applying exterior finishes, a layer of house wrap or felt paper should first be applied over the CerarMix Panel. Masonry and fiber-reinforced stuccos can also be used if a ventilated air space is provided. Masonry materials such as brick veneer may come in direct contact with the CerarMix Panel. A vented air space between the veneer and Panels, and weep holes in the masonry should be provided.

  • Do you install the 2x lumber at the factory?

    Yes in the panels themselves, but not for the frame work in post and beam. If only panels are being used without post and beam, lumber may be used to connect the seams of the panels for the purpose of adding strength, 2x lumber should span the entire panel joints.

  • How is wiring accomplished in CerarMix Panels?

    Electrical chase(s) are incorporated into the panels during the manufacturing process. The chases are typically at standard horizontal heights for outlets or counter top receptacles. Vertical chases can also be specified in EPS and NEOPOR EPS core SIPs. The majority of the wiring “pull” and connectivity is accomplished during or after the panel installation.

  • How is plumbing accomplished in CerarMix Panels?

    Most building codes do not recommend, or may prohibit, installation of plumbing or vent lines in exterior walls, so a little planning during the design phase will keep plumbing installation simple and no more difficult than in any other building type. Place plumbing in interior partition walls according to generally accepted building practices. Climate conditions are calculated for variances required.

  • Does a CerarMix Panel structure require special HVAC consideration?

    Because CerarMix Panels provide an airtight building envelope and exceptional insulating properties, it is important to incorporate properly sized HVAC equipment into a CerarMix Panel structure. Fortunately, often less is more in this instance. Equipment that is the correct size for a stick-built structure may well be oversized for a CerarMix Panel structure of comparable size and layout. Oversized equipment will run more frequently at less than optimum levels, reducing energy efficiency and increasing frequency of equipment maintenance. Consult with a knowledgeable HVAC contractor to determine the project’s specific air handling needs. Recommendations are available from our engineering team specific to the locale and size of the structure.

  • What can be done to insure healthy indoor air quality of a CerarMix Panel structure?

    Indoor air quality has become a major health concern in homes and buildings that are built to meet or exceed today’s energy efficiency mandates. A structure that is properly built with CerarMix Panels can be very airtight, so most manufacturers, including ACTS CSI, require the inclusion of a mechanical ventilation system in the HVAC plan. Typically this is achieved through the use of a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) or an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV). Most of the major HVAC system manufacturers now offer these units as do many smaller companies, so consult with your mechanical contractor.

  • Are there any special considerations when building with CerarMix Panels?

    Be sure to seal all joints and voids with spray foam. Sealing with spray foam insures a continuous envelope of insulation and an effective airtight barrier for optimum efficiency and performance.

  • Does a CerarMix Panel roof need to be vented?

    All dead space in attics and crawl spaces are recommended to be vented. CerarMix diminishes the heat loss or heat buildup in these areas, thus reducing the needs of venting. ACTS CSI has always held that a “cold” roof, or ventilated roof on top of the panels, is the best application. Typically this is accomplished by first installing 15-pound roofing felt on the roof panels, then installing 1x or 2x lumber vertically from the eaves to the ridge. These “straps” are put on 16” or 24” centers and sheathing (OSB or plywood) is attached over strapping before the finish roofing material is applied. The eave is left open and the ridge is vented with a vent cap.

  • Are vapor barriers necessary in CerarMix Panels structures?

    No. Vapor barriers are not typically necessary in CerarMix Panelized construction. When properly installed, CerarMix Panels provide an effective vapor barrier by themselves. Some state or local codes may require vapor barriers over CerarMix Panels; check with your local code official for requirements in your area.

  • How well do CerarMix Panels block sound transmission?

    How sound-resistant a CerarMix Panel can be is dependent upon the thickness of the finish materials, such as drywall and/or exterior cladding, and the thickness and type of foam core. CerarMix Panels have undergone STC (Sound Transmission Coefficient) testing on our products, and results attest to the quietness of CerarMix Panel structures. One attribute of CerarMix skins is that sound is reflected as well as heat, water, or any other contaminant. The integrated “sound proofing” qualities of CerarMix greatly increase sound containment. When uses in internal walls, sound containment can also become very efficient in controlling sound quality.

  • Can CerarMix Panels be integrated with other types of building systems?

    Yes. CerarMix Panels integrate easily with most other types of building systems, such as ICFs, poured concrete, cinder blocks, roof trusses, and stick framing.

  • How are shingles or metal roof coverings applied to CerarMix roof Panels?

    It depends upon which type of roof finish material will be used. Ultimately, installation details and technical information on the specific roofing product are given consideration during the initial design and engineering phase. CerarMix Panels can be used without any need for additional roofing materials. Any additional materials are incorporated for appearance rather than necessity. We are currently exploring several processes that would allow CerarMix to be formed for appearance purposes and would eliminate the need for an aftermarket product.

    Shingles: Not all shingle manufacturers warrant shingles applied directly over an insulated deck or Panels. Depending on your choice of manufacturer, an additional ventilated space may be required for warranty qualification. The preferred and recommended method of shingle installation is on an elevated, ventilated surface. Furring strips or strapping are screwed vertically over a layer of roofing felt to the exterior surface of the roof panel on 16” to 24” centers. A layer of sheathing material is applied on the strapping as the nail base for the shingles. This system requires both eave and ridge vents to vent the cavity and prevent condensation and heat buildup.

    Metal: For metal roof applications, an additional layer of strapping, installed horizontally, can be used in lieu of the sheathing. Once again, there is no need for adding a metal roof to the CerarMix Panels.

  • What is shingle ridging? Does shingle ridging occur in CerarMix Panel structures?

    Shingle ridging is the bulging of asphalt roofing material, such as shingles, above the joints of engineered wood panels used in roof applications. It is caused by moisture changes in the underlying sheathing and can occur in traditionally framed roof assemblies as well as panel roof assemblies. Ridging does not affect the performance of the CerarMix Panel roof and is strictly aesthetic. To eliminate the possibility of shingle ridging, an additional layer of OSB can be installed in a staggered pattern over the Panel joints; a cold roof can be installed; or other-than asphalt materials can be used. A CerarMix cap is available for hip and ridge connectivity and water proofing.

  • Can CerarMix Panels be cut on the jobsite?

    Yes. Panel-specific tools may be required.

  • Can recessed lights be installed in CerarMix Panels?

    Not at this time, because there is no ventilation or airspace in a Panel to dissipate the heat buildup from the fixture, which would create a fire hazard in conventional lighting systems. We are exploring and testing newer forms of “low voltage’ lower heat producing fiber optic and LED systems to allow for such applications.

  • How are kitchen cabinets and other wall elements mounted?

    Kitchen cabinets and other wall elements can be mounted directly on the CerarMix Panels, or can be installed on plywood or metal strips that have been applied to the CerarMix Panels. Check with the cabinet manufacturer for recommended fastener schedules specific to panel construction.

  • Is it necessary to protect CerarMix Panels from insects?

    No. CerarMix panels are made of inert materials and are impervious to damage caused by pests and insects.

  • Are CerarMix Panels susceptible to mold and mildew?

    There are no empty pores or cavities in a CerarMix Panel in which mold and mildew can propagate. Furthermore, CerarMix Panels have a natural component that actually kills mold and mildew spores upon contact. This prevents the gathering or multiplication process that allows for growth of spores.

  • Can damaged CerarMix Panels be repaired or replaced?

    If a CerarMix Panel sustains physical damage, a structural engineer should be consulted to determine the extent of the damage and whether the overall structural integrity has been compromised. Individual panels can be replaced if necessary, and CerarMix also has available a patching formula in 1 and 5 gallon cans for periodic fills and or repairs.

  • What does the design and fabrication process entail?

    The construction of a CerarMix building begins with the design and construction drawings and documents. These construction documents will be used to develop detailed shop drawings. Once the shop drawings are approved by the client, builder, or professional contractor, the CerarMix Panels are fabricated and shipped to the jobsite.

  • Can ACTS CSI design my structure or building?

    ACTS CSI does not offer design services, but we would be happy to work with you, and your architect or engineer to maximize the efficiency of your CerarMix Panel structure. CerarMix will review your plans and make suggestions as to how to achieve for the greatest savings in cost of panel construction. Generally, minimal alterations are required to existing plans to reduce final costs to the most efficient level.

  • Are span and load tables available for CerarMix Panels?

    Each project is unique and so are the load and span requirements for that project. ACTS CSI can provide the necessary information for your specific application, by reviewing the blue prints for the project. Please call us at 877.444.0880 for further support.

  • What information does ACTS CSI need in order to provide an estimate?

    We’ll need a good set of plans that include dimensions and elevations so we can estimate material quantities and service costs for you.

  • Where should I send plans and documentation?

    Review your plans and documentation with the ACTS CSI representative you spoke with, and send them to:

    ACTS CSI
    Lexington, MS

    Or email to info@acts.ws for a service representative’s assistance.

  • What is the average lead time on an order?

    For pre-cut Panel orders, plan on a minimum of six to eight weeks from the time ACTS CSI receives your signed order, deposit, and drawings for standard CerarMix panels. This time frame can vary, so check with your ACTS CSI representative for current lead times.

  • Are there special storage considerations for the panels once they’re on site?

    Panels are stacked in bundles and wrapped in heavy gauge black plastic prior to shipping. The plastic provides protection during typical installation time frames. Panels should be stored on level risers that elevate the panels high enough off the ground to create an air flow beneath the bundle. This will help inhibit ground moisture from condensing on the underside of the bundle. For extended storage of Panels, ACTS CSI recommends placing the wrapped panel bundles in a fully enclosed structure that provides protection from exposure to wind, rain, moisture, and UV light. Although the panels are impervious to the elements, maintaining a clean and waterproof environment will make the panels easier to handle and maintain cleanliness. In the absence of structure availability, it is recommended that the Panels be covered with proper protective tarps until ready for use.

  • Once installed, how long can the CerarMix Panels remain exposed to the elements?

    One of the benefits of using CerarMix Panels is that they are not susceptible to damage from exposure to the elements and to UV rays.