Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) are quickly gaining popularity as a home building material. They offer many benefits including unmatched energy efficiency, enhanced resiliency in extreme weather, faster construction times, decreased maintenance and quieter interiors.
The combination of foam and concrete is the reason behind these benefits. ICFs consist of two rigid Expanded Polystyrene Foam Insulation (EPS) foam panels which sandwich a core of reinforced concrete. The concrete provides exceptional strength and thermal mass while the foam provides a continuous layer of high performance insulation.
More insulation, an airtight building envelope, and high mass walls means that the energy performance of an ICF wall far exceeds that of traditional wood-framed housing. In a study done by CLEB Laboratories, ICF walls had 60% less energy loss compared to a wood-framed wall. ICF construction on average can cut energy bills in half. The savings could be even more if additional steps are taken including insulating the attic sufficiently, choosing quality windows and doors, and installing an energy efficient HVAC system.
Having exterior walls with a core of solid, steel-reinforced concrete, ICF buildings are 10 times stronger than wood-framed buildings. Hurricanes, tornadoes, storm surges, and wildfires, ICF built buildings have survived them all. Both law enforcement groups and the military are advocates of ICF buildings as well due to their ballistic and blast protection.
In photos taken by news photographers following natural disasters, the resiliency of ICF buildings is shown in a dramatic way. From the wildfire that destroyed thousands of homes in San Diego to hurricane Henry with 130 mph winds in Florida, ICF buildings remained practically unscathed while others were destroyed.
Another benefit of building with ICFs is that it’s a faster and easier process because it takes fewer steps in both the exterior and interior construction. Building with ICFs can take 2-4 months off the construction time.
One of the most time consuming aspects of wood framing is the time and steps involved in properly protecting the wood from moisture. The concrete in ICF buildings are not subject to the same deterioration. Depending on the design of the building, the time savings can be significant.
Maintenance is reduced in several areas that save time and money for the life of the property.
Painting: Because ICF walls do not expand and contract like wood, paint is less susceptible to cracking and lasts longer.
Wood Rot: Eliminating wood frames eliminates wood rot caused by moisture and insects. Further, it is resistant to mold.
Stucco: Most stucco cracks are caused by the natural movement of substrate walls moving as wood frames twist and warp. ICF walls are more stable and greatly reduce stucco cracks.
HVAC: Because the interior air is better controlled, the HVAC unit doesn’t have to work as hard or often. This reduces wear and tear on the HVAC unit and extends its useful service life.
ICF built walls insulate sound better than standard wood frame traditional walls, so your home will be quieter. Traditional walls have a Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating of 33-38, whereas an ICF home has a consistent STC rating of 54, which means that even shouting is not heard outside of the ICF walls.
Insulated Concrete Forms provide numerous benefits to both residential and commercial buildings. Bishop Builders is ready to help with your home projects. We offer expert advice and quality, professional construction services. Contact us at 1-817-221-0873 or email@example.com to get started on your next home improvement project!