Like many of you, my entire career has been in the construction industry. So when I was first introduced to Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) about 15 years ago, I wasn’t sure what to think about this sudden alternative to wood- and steel-frame construction. I am thankful that I took the leap and never looked back!
As a business owner, I must look at the pros and cons of any product or system from multiple perspectives. They have to be efficient for my installers, my company, and for my customers. ICFs hit on all of those. There’s nothing around that’s better.
Benefits of ICFs
My crew and I were trained on ICF construction over a decade ago, and it has become a core component in our service offerings. We install the foam blocks as well as fill them with the structural concrete. We began using ICFs in the construction of new homes for both the below-grade basements and above-grade walls. Over time, we’ve been called on more frequently to build with ICFs for larger commercial projects. The advantages of this system carry over equally for both segments.
- User-friendly- For the installers, ICF blocks are lightweight so they can be easily moved around the construction site. Many manufacturers offer a “snapping” feature which enables blocks to stack on top of each other like Legos and click into place. This is a huge advantage because once you confirm that the first layer is level, you know the last layer will be level as well.
- Energy-Efficiency- Depending on the manufacturer, the two layers of foam with the concrete can offer an R-Value of 24 with Thermal mass properties of up to R-50. This insulation power means significantly lower heating and cooling costs. While ICFs may be more expensive up-front, the investment pays for itself after a few years.
- Structural Value- Debating between wall construction methods, durability is arguably the biggest factor. ICFs have proven themselves time and time again in withstanding extreme weather. They are engineered and rated for up to 250 mph winds and are the sought-after route for new buildings in hurricane- and tornado-prone regions.
- Sound-Absorption- A final benefit that most people don’t think to consider is the acoustics of the building. If your structure is on a busy roadway, you’ll be blown away by the sound-dampening effects of ICF construction. You won’t be able to hear the traffic at all. It virtually blocks all the noise from the outside world.