Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) are revolutionizing modern construction. Cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, ICF construction has proven to be a superior way to build for both below grade and above grade applications.
ICF is made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) with an interlocking design. Construction is easy with a simple building process: stack, reinforce, brace, and pour. I CF is perfect for load and non-load bearing exterior walls as well as interior walls such as partition and demising walls. Forms also have a dual function as the building’s insulation. Foundation to roof ICF buildings are solid structures — only growing stronger with time.
ICF is well-established as an exceptional option for residential and commercial foundations. However, the full benefits of ICF are realized when applied above grade for the entire building envelope.
Learn more about the advantages of using ICF from the foundation to the roof.
1) Construction Benefits
Those who have used ICF for below grade applications are already familiar with how ICF speeds up construction and job site efficiency. The 5-in-1 integrated system is a stay in place solution for structure, insulation, air and vapor barriers, interior and exterior finishes. ICF wall assemblies reduce the number of installation stages by combining these five benefits into a single simplified process.
Using a tough and better-insulated block like Amvic ICF R30 significantly i mproves the stacking process and reduces the risk for blowouts during the concrete pour . Floor and roof systems are easily installed with the horizontal system such as Amdeck . This product is suited for roofs and floors applications on ICF walls or independently with other structural systems.
Using ICF for below and above grade applications can help overcome seasonal challenges. The EPS panels protect the concrete from freezing during winter which extends the building season and expedites construction time.
When you build with ICF, labor, and materials required for a job decreases. ICF can be applied to a relatively non-specific workforce provided the lead hands are properly trained. Additionally, fewer workers are needed for an ICF installation due to the simplicity of the build. Labor insurance costs may also be drastically reduced with ICF construction.
ICF is an excellent way to streamline construction schedules while exceeding building code and R-value requirements. The best way to take advantage of ICF construction is to build from the basement to the roof.
2) Energy Efficiency
ICF is a superior insulation proven to improve a building’s energy efficiency. ICF walls have minimal thermal bridging due to the dual layers of continuous insulation. Undesired air leakage is greatly reduced due to an airtight envelope created by the sandwich wall assembly which lowers utility expenses. Savings on utility expenses are passed along to the owner or occupants for the lifespan of an ICF building.
ICF provides a sustainable building insulation option that reduces energy consumption, emits fewer greenhouse gasses, and passes on financial savings to the owner or occupant.
3) Improved Comfort
ICF improves the comfort of a building no matter the regional climate. Indoor comfort is enhanced because of the integrity of the structure’s thermal resistance, sound attenuation, air tightness, and air quality.
The combination of increased air tightness and continuous insulation creates a superior building envelope. The resulting structure maintains the conditioned space within the optimal thermal comfort range with minimal drafts. When the weather outside is hot, occupants enjoy a cool indoor temperature; when the weather is cold, occupants enjoy warm indoor temperatures.
Concrete buildings have an added benefit of improved sound absorption. ICF has a high sound transmission class (STC) rating of 50+, so occupants experience a quieter and more comfortable building compared to non-concrete alternatives. Using ICF for above grade applications only maximizes these benefits through the entire structure.
Air quality is also significantly improved with the use of an EPS material. EPS compared with traditional fiberglass insulation eliminates airborne glass fibers with a building. The sandwich wall assembly of ICF walls greatly reduces the entry of the entry of dust, pollens, and pollution in the indoor environment.
4) Financial Savings
As highlighted, energy efficient ICF buildings pass along significant operating and maintenance savings. ICF buildings can provide 30-50% in monthly savings on energy bills, which is substantial when factoring in savings for the lifespan of a typical building. Furthermore, ICF buildings only grow stronger with time and have a superior resistance to impact which reduces the need for major repairs compared to framed construction.
When factoring the operating and maintenance costs throughout the lifespan of a building, building with ICF to the roof can help achieve significant cost savings.
5) Resiliency & Safety
To avoid serious repairs or loss of investment in the event of extreme weather, owners need to consider the resiliency of their buildings.
ICF buildings are exceptionally strong and can withstand extreme weather threats such as tornadoes, forest fires, and hurricanes. ICF wall components do not lose their structural integrity when exposed to high moisture environments. In fact, ICF reinforced concrete cores create stronger buildings when compared to framed or a poured in place construction.
As a result, an ICF building is secure, solid, and sturdy against natural and human-made disasters. The benefits of building with concrete can be applied to all foundation, walls, and roofs to maximize the structural integrity of the building. The fire resistance rating (FRR) of ICF creates superior resistance compared to other framing and insulation products. A finished ICF wall has a fire rating ranging from 2 to 4 hours.
6) Flexible Applications
ICF is a building system well-suited for commercial and residential projects. ICF design capabilities are wide-ranging and can accommodate all types of design requirements. Amvic ICF block types include straight, 90 degree corner, 45 degree corner, taper top, brick ledge, T-block, and radius. Whatever the design requirements, such as radius walls or walkout basements, ICF block options are flexible.
Homeowners love ICF homes because they're comfortable, sustainable, resilient, and cost-efficient. For multi-story buildings, commercial developers can speed up their construction times, hire fewer contractors/companies, and get a faster ROI realization because of these efficiencies.
ICF has continued to revolutionize how we build and has proven to be a superior wall system. Increasingly, homeowners, developers, installers, and architects are using ICF for both below grade and above grade applications. The decision to choose ICF for wall systems is made easy by the many benefits of this product.
Above grade ICF will help achieve the following benefits:
- Construction: Start your project sooner, continue building through the winter months, hire fewer contractors and see how the easy-to-use ICF system speeds up your construction time.
- Energy Efficiency: ICF buildings exceed building code requirements with R22 and R30 block options. ICF blocks are made using recycled materials and dramatically reduce energy consumption for the lifespan of a structure.
- Financial Savings: Energy efficiency equals financial savings for building owners. Indoor temperature regulation dramatically reduces costs associated with heating and cooling a building. Incentives for energy efficient buildings also offers more flexibility for mortgages and insurance.
- Improved Comfort: ICF buildings benefit from enhanced comfort. Concrete structures are quieter and have better temperature regulation year round.
- Resiliency & Safety: Complete ICF structures outperform stick frame buildings considerably. Concrete instead of wood will withstand extreme weather such as heavy rain and wind conditions. ICF has a fire resistance rating (FRR) ranging from 2 to 4 hours.
- Flexible Applications: ICF is a flexible building system for a variety of building types, design requirements for above and below grade applications, and the end-user needs.
The result of a foundation to roof ICF building is a perfectly straight, well-insulated, and durable structure — that grows stronger with time, provides long-term monetary savings, is an environmentally sustainable construction material.
Amvic Building System is a leading provider of ICF. Find out more about how ICF is an excellent option for your next building project.