ICFs Aren’t Just for Basements
Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs) are often used in below-grade applications. The insulation properties of ICFs make them an excellent solution for finished basements but over the past 20 years, ICFs have been growing in popularity as an above-grade construction solution. The same benefits apply for both below and above grade application, and the end-user enjoys exponential benefits when the entire structure is ICF. More and more, ICFs are being used to construct homes, mid-rise structures, schools, safe-rooms, and more.
Build Virtually Any Design
ICFs are an incredibly adaptable material to use for almost any design, commercial or residential. Forms are preformed blocks made of EPS foam and high-density plastic which are then filled with steel rebar and concrete. ICF blocks can be used to create any curve or angle to fit your project’s exact specifications. The light-weight foam material is easy to cut with a simple pruning saw or hot knife, and any cut piece with a web can be implemented into the wall. BuildBlock also offers curved radius forms in a variety of arcs to allow for smooth curves in pools and homes. ICFs are a great option for any size of construction, large or small, and can even be used for multi-story buildings. Multiple stories are easily formed on top of previous levels, using the same building process to keep construction quick and simple. Lastly, it is easy to design a safe room in an ICF structure. Steel reinforced concrete provides strong walls that offer protection from even the fiercest storm and can be utilized as any room in the home such as a master closet, pantry, or gun safe. The flexibility of ICFs makes any design possible and adds value to above grade builds.
ICF Benefits for Any Structure
Superior comfort and protection, better energy efficiency, more savings, and greater longevity; ICFs deliver a high-performance structure that offers benefits that other building materials can’t. ICF walls create a tight envelope that surrounds the structure and reduce air infiltration. This greatly reduces drafts, temperature instability, heat-loss, and creates a more comfortable living environment with healthier air.
ICF structures are also incredibly disaster-resistant. The strength of the steel-reinforced concrete walls provides protection from earthquakes, fire, tornados, and hurricanes. The superior wall strength of BuildBlock ICFs offers protection from damage of high winds and debris and has been tested and proven to withstand impact damage of up to 250mph.
ICFs offer comfort and peace of mind in the form of reduced noise pollution inside the structure. Concrete and foam perform well as sound barriers and a 6” ICF wall offers a Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating of 54, which is enough to keep your home quiet, even if someone is shouting on the other side of the wall.
Arguably one of the most notable ICF benefits is drastically increased energy-efficiency. ICF walls combine foam and concrete to form a thermal barrier that boasts an insulation value of up to R-26. A completed ICF wall has also been proven to perform much higher. In a 2017 independent study, researchers compared the effects of cold temperatures on an ICF wall versus a traditionally framed and insulated wood wall. The study proved that ICFs are 58% more energy-efficient than wood-framed walls. This drastic reduction in energy consumption also greatly reduces the utility cost, saving money month after month.
When all is said and done, your basement shouldn’t be the only portion of your home that is strong, quiet, and energy-efficient. Anyone building with ICFs below-grade should consider extending the benefits all the way to the roof. By using ICFs to build your home, the structure offers better energy efficiency and more savings through greater insulation, a more comfortable living environment, a quieter home, and peace of mind knowing that your home is disaster resilient and built to last for generations to come.