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What is SIPS Platform and Why Do I Want One?

Along with choosing the size of your yurt you will need to decide on your platform.

The choice is between:
No Deck/ I’ll build my own - or - Structural Insulated Panel Deck

If you are confused about the difference between the two, have no fear! You are not the only one, and this post should help clear up any confusion.

"No Deck / I’ll build my own" implies that you will use our engineered platform plans and build the round platform to exact specifications. Most people either hire a carpenter, contractor, or use one of the many “Rainier Approved” Expert Yurt Installers scattered throughout the country. This type of platform requires a considerable amount on understructure and the circumference must be exactly round and measure within a 3” tolerance of the exact circumference and diameter.


The other option is to purchase at the time you place your order from Rainier Yurts a SIPS (or Structural Insulated Panel System) prefabricated deck. Think of it like an ice cream sandwich on steroids! The highly sought out SIPS Panels are perfect for our yurt platform.

The panels are a 21st century composite material of expanded polystyrene with 7/16” O.S.B. board (oriented strand board structural sheathing) top and bottom skin that has the highest option for insulation and structural performance in a single building product. With an R-Value factor of R-24, your yurt will stay warm and efficient all winter long and cooler in the summer months.

Galgary SIPS

This platform option requires significantly less material from the lumber yard than traditional platforms and makes building your platform a snap! You can save time and labor costs and by going with a SIPS. Another advantage is the ability to un-assemble the SIPS if you ever have to move your yurt. These giant puzzle pieces fit together to create one even, solid, sturdy and longlasting platform for the yurt to sit on.

Galgary SIPS 2

SIPS are required for building new schools and commercial buildings in areas with high winds, tornado, and hurricanes because of the intense structural ability. A SIPS yurt platform will be significantly more durable and solid than a non-SIPS. And - bonus! - it takes the guesswork of getting the platform perfectly round as it comes pre-cut in sections that snap together to create the perfect sized and shape circle.

While conversing yesterday with new yurt owner Sunshine (yes, that is her real name!) she expressed her sentiments about the SIPS perfectly: “Why would anybody NOT get a SIPS?!"

Well, some folks can’t swing the expense in their yurt budget. Let’s face it, these puppies aren’t cheap! But after touring the SIPS manufacturing facility (one of the few components of the yurt that we do not make here at Rainier) about 35 minutes from our manufacturing plant, I quickly understood what goes into making these dense, but lightweight marvels.

They expand the polystyrene foam using steam (heat and moisture) and then form it into the 5 ½ “ thick x the required length panels. These can often be over 23’ long. OSB board is then laminated to the top and bottom of the polystyrene. Then using CAD precision, the pieces are cut to the exact size and shape of each yurt and into manageable sections. The individual sections, that average 4 feet wide by 8 to 11 feet long (the end pieces are usually longer), make it easy to build the platform in precarious places, like over a cliff, over water, at high altitudes, and in inclement weather conditions.

drawing2 drawing3
SIPS are maintenance free, long lasting, and a dependable source of insulation. If you live in a relatively wet climate, I recommend coating your SIPS both upper and lower boards with a primer or marine grade paint to seal the OSB prior to putting your SIPS platform together. Some people have used the exposed but painted/polyurethane OSB as their finished floor.

photo (10) (2)

The only down side of getting a SIPS is that they do take up significant room when shipping. But from my angle, it doesn’t cost that much more and the reward it provides in terms of getting a solid platform with R-24 insulation that is easy to install or relocate is invaluable.


Chat with us to explore whether a SIPS panel will improve your yurt life. I have material lists for both options (SIPS and lumber constructed platform) in all of our yurt diameter sizes so that you can have your local building center quote the materials and compare the costs. The SIPS will always be slightly higher, but when you factor in the time saved with the easy installation, you might find the cost is well worth it.

Enjoy the journey!

Dana Of Rainier, the Yurt Girl

Namaste~Dana, The Yurt Girl

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