Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Insulated Concrete Forms or ICFs

Insulated Concrete Forms or ICFs are a modern building material with specific traits that most homeowners would find desirable. These include high energy efficiency, very low air infiltration, high sound deadening and a significantly stronger structure. Of course, all these benefits do come at a higher cost.

ICFs are typically made in the form of blocks. Each block has a foam panel on each side with a space in between. The space can be 4”, 6”, 8” or more. These foam blocks are stacked up to form a wall. As the wall is stacked, steel reinforcing rod is placed in the space between the foam panels on a grid pattern. Once the wall is erected, concrete is poured into the space. The ICF becomes a composite material of foam and concrete. The concrete provides the structural component of the wall and the foam provides the insulation component.

Once the concrete cures, interior walls are built with wood or steel and a conventional roof is placed on the home. On the exterior, any conventional siding material can be applied directly to the exterior of the ICF block. Same thing on the inside, drywall is applied directly to the surface of the ICF block. Once completed, the home looks like any other home, however it is stronger, quieter and more energy efficient than most others.

Building your home with ICFs will typically add about 7% to 10% to the total cost when compared to standard 2x4 construction. The difference is less when compared to more energy efficient wood framed homes. Standard ICFs are ideal for areas with severe weather such as tornados or hurricanes. As far as energy efficiency, standard ICFs are best for areas with hot to moderate weather. There are special ICFs with thicker foam on the exterior surface that are better for colder climates. There are a number of different ICF manufacturers, each with their own unique product. When choosing an ICF, while it is very important to pick a high quality product, it is just as important to pick a product with good dealer support. Also be sure to select a contractor with good experience in ICF construction.

While ICFs will never be used to build every home, there are certain situations where they are the best choice. And because of some specific qualities, once you have lived in an ICF home, you will probably never want to live in anything else. If you wish to learn more about ICFs as well as see pictures of homes during construction, please visit my website, www.clemdesign.com/Logix.html  I am a distributor for LOGIX ICFs. On their website, you can find lots of information including engineering specs as well as videos. The URL for LOGIX is http://www.logixicf.com/

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