21st century

construction technology

Insulated Concrete Forms are the future of the building industry

Popular for both residential and commercial ICF construction, ICFs create homes and businesses that are energy-efficient, fire-resistant, sound-proof, and durable. Properly constructed, they are tornado and hurricane-proof, and stand up to earthquake, fire, and other natural disasters equally well. Many homes conserve energy so well that heating and cooling costs are reduced by 50-70 percent.

About image

Because there are stringent energy-efficiency rules to follow today, more contractors are turning to ICF construction as a way to create buildings that meet the current codes. This structure is naturally more resistant to natural disasters as well, and it is useful in applications where there is a need for frost-protected shallow foundations. The first slabs of concrete formed to create the ICF process were invented in 1983. Now there are more than 20 million systems around the world which use this technology to provide thermal insulation, soundproofing, and improvements in the indoor air quality.

Why choose ICF?

When you are using ICF construction, then your primary advantage is an increase in the structural strength of your reinforced concrete wall. You are using one simple operation to create all of the structural qualities of concrete with the insulation and air-sealing qualities of a SIPS wall when you do it correctly. Because half of the insulation of an ICF product has its insulation on each side of the thermal mass, a significant portion of the energy it receives goes to the ground through its footings.
You will often see ICF construction projects using a waffle-style blueprint for the project because the design uses about 10% less concrete than if you build a straight-form option. Even if you prefer the straight-form blocks when putting together a structure, you will develop more strength with six inches of concrete compared to an 8-inch traditional wall. That means you can save up to 25% of the materials and cost when pursuing this method, reduce your overall curing time, and provide more reinforcement to the overall structure.
The speed at which ICFs are set is a tremendous advantage to contractors because you can essentially pour and go with the forms. You don’t need to worry about stripping and cleaning the forms once you’re ready to continue with the project. Although this process does cost a little more than the traditional building methods with concrete, the amount of labor that you save using this process will usually make up the difference – especially when you add in the cost of the alternative insulation methods in use.
Wiring and plumbing are not a problem with ICF construction because the foam is thick enough that a contractor can groove it out to install the necessary items. The wires or pipes go through the wall or segment as they would in any other structure, and then spray-foam insulation will help to secure any potential leaks that occur with the installation process. That design element is why this method is so useful for closed crawl space designs, basement homes, and areas in the tropic wear heat and moisture resistance are so necessary.
Once all of the large foam blocks are in place for a wall, builders will place steel rebar throughout the structure before pouring the concrete so that it provides the strength that is necessary for the building or project in question. Each unit interlocks with the other so that you can stack them together with little effort. You don’t need mortar to finish the project either because the concrete works to keep the items in place without any help. Since this structure absorbs shock exceptionally well, it becomes a useful tool in high-risk areas around the world.