Insulated Concrete Forms are initially used to hold freshly poured concrete. The forms then remain permanently in place to provide greater insulation for the enclosed concrete. ICF offers significant benefits, including:
No, ICF forms are comprised of Type II EPS, a closed cell foam that cannot absorb water.
Yes, homes built using ICFs generally out perform traditional homes when it comes to operating costs and indoor comfort.
Generally, building with ICFs takes the same amount of time as building with traditional wood or block methods. However, once the ICF walls are in place, and the roof and windows are in place, the home is ready for finishes, ultimately saving weeks or months in the construction process.
ICF forms have been tested to ensure that they meet building code requirements around smoke creation and flame spread. The Type II EPS used in ICFs includes a flame retardant that makes the forms flame resistant. Research shows that EPS melts at a sustained temperature of more than 300° F. In addition, melted EPS ignites at 600°F while the ignition point of wood is approximately 500°F. Because of this they are often used in schools and hospitals.
ICF forms usually contain at least 40% recycled content by weight. They do not require high-embodied energy to manufacture, are produced without using any gases that harm the ozone layer or the environment and do not off-gas. In addition, all components of the ICF are recyclable. ICFs are a highly efficient means of construction that cut down on both construction waste and air pollution. As a sustainable material that will last for the entire life of a home, ICFs also enable a home to use a smaller, more efficient HVAC unit, which reduces the home’s carbon footprint.
Yes, exterior ICF walls are made with two layers of seamless insulation. In addition, the solid concrete and layer of 1⁄2" gypsum board on the inside of the form result in sound suppression of STC 50.
The ICF’s R-Value is R23.5. Entire wall calculations confirm that ICF surpasses current energy code requirements for both above and below grade walls.
The double layer of insulation, lack of thermal bridging, and reduced air flow through the concrete enables ICF walls to qualify for inclusion in the high-performance wall assembly category. When used with energy efficient roofing, doors, and windows, ICF homes easily meet or exceed minimum requirements for EnerGuide and Energy Star, requires roughly 30% less energy to cool and 40% less energy to heat.
Any exterior finish system or material, including simulated stone, siding, masonry veneers, and stucco, can be used with an ICF. When attaching certain exterior finishes it is recommended that exterior grade screws be fastened to an ICF’s concealed or exposed web.