Insulated Concrete Forms
Insulated Concrete forms are a new method being used by contractors to qualify for energy credit and other types of ratings. Many home builders are using the most obvious and currently most popular alternative: Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs). Not only home builders, approximately one-third of Insulated Concrete Forms structures are non-residential, according to the Insulating Concrete Form Association.
Insulated Concrete Forms are permanent foam forms with poured concrete and rebar in between forms. The forms will stay in place as a permanent part of the wall assembly. Insulated concrete forms are made of foam insulation, either pre-formed interlocking blocks or separate panels connected with plastic ties. These forms that will undertake the place of masonry, wood, or concrete, not only provide a continuous insulation and sound barrier, but also a backing for drywall on the inside, and stucco, lap siding, or brick on the outside.
Insulated Concrete Forms will achieve, at a minimum, an R-17-plus wall that is permanently insulated on both sides with a solid concrete mass core. The blocks and panels also feature integral nailing strips for attaching interior and exterior finishes and the ability to “let-in” mechanical runs, such as wiring and plumbing, without cutting into the concrete core. However, wall penetration or piping running through the walls should be accommodated before the pour or block before the concrete is placed.
Insulated Concrete Form Benefits
Using insulated concrete forms will provide you with several benefits, including:
- Insulated Concrete Forms can be designed to heights over 40 feet tall (free standing/load bearing).
- AC1 318 must be followed to design an ICF Wall System, just like regular concrete walls.
- 44% less energy is required to heat the interiors, when compared to wood-frame structures.
- 32% less energy is used to cool the interior of the structure, when compared to wood-frame structures.
- Insulated Concrete Forms can get R values from, R-17 to R-26, instead of having R-9 values from wood frames.
- When compared with wood framing, they will reduce infiltration by 50%.
- Insulated Concrete Forms are treated to be resistant to mold and mildew problems.
- Most ICF companies manufacture forms in 4", 6", 8" and 10" cavity widths, and several shapes.
- When remodeling, openings can be cut into the wall easily and accommodate the rough-in required.
- Every major construction code North America, including ICC, has approved ICF’s.
- It has twice the sound resistance property as wood frames, achieving a sound transmission classification of approximately STC 50.
- No vapor barrier is required. The forms act as regular moisture barriers.
- ICF buildings are up to 8.5 times stronger than wood framed buildings.
- Insulated concrete forms do require waterproofing. There are various products, including latex sprayed waterproofing, peel and stick membranes, as well as dimple board sheets.
- Inserting new utilities is as easy as cutting channels or grooves directly into the form using an electric hot knife or router.