ICFs offer all the benefits that have made concrete the material of choice for construction worldwide. They provide solid, high strength walls that resist the ravages of fire, wind and Father Time.
But ICF's also do plain concrete one better – or rather, two better – by giving two built-in layers of foam insulation. ICF construction takes the three-step process of framing, insulating, and wrapping a structure, and ties it all into one. Forms are constructed from expanded polystyrene foam and stacked like building blocks to form the exterior walls of a building; then the forms are reinforced with steel and filled with concrete. The forms interlock and fasten one to the other to provide a seamless "foundation to rafter" fully insulated, reinforced concrete walls. ICF's stay in place as a permanent part of the wall assembly.
This gives an ICF structure some sizable advantages over other construction techniques. Home and building owners can enjoy greater energy efficiency, more peace and quiet, and enhanced day-to-day comfort. All of this is wrapped up in a solid, high-quality building package with an utterly remarkable feel.
Contact a County Materials' sales representative for more detailed information on ICF Construction, and what products are available in your area.
There is no limit to the opportunities for ICF construction:
Note: It is strongly recommended that anyone building a structure with ICFs receive the proper training and consultation before starting any project.
For the Walls -
For Lintel Openings -
Our form supplier is the only in-house manufacturer of ICF forms in the industry. This allows them to maintain strict quality control standards. The brackets are the toughest on the market, made of regrind polypropylene, which eliminates the thermal bridging and corrosion concerns. The brackets are molded 1/2" below the surface of the block eliminating any shadowing concerns when finishing with Stucco or EIFS products on the exterior of the building. In addition, the brackets run the full height of the forms, and the bracket is a full 2.5" wide which is unique in the industry, making it much easier to attach both external and internal wall products.
County Materials sales representatives can help you with your estimate for ICF forms, concrete, and accessories you will need for your project.
It is recommended that an ICF wall be poured one story at a time, no higher than 12 feet. The pour rate should not exceed 4 feet per lift. ICF forms are used for both single and multi-story residential and commercial projects.
With 2.5 inches of EPS foam on each side of the form, an ICF form itself has an R-value of 23. With concrete in the forms, a structure can achieve an R-value of R-28 to R-32 using Thermographic Testing.
County Materials' ICF forms come with a full 2.5" bracket located every 8" on center. This makes it easy to attach any type of wall covering, including EIFS, stucco, siding or ties for brick or stone veneers. The interior walls will easily accept sheet rock screws for attaching standard sheetrock.
The amount of rebar is determined by the design of the building. County Materials sales representatives can help with determining how much rebar will be needed for your specific project (in accordance with local codes and engineering specifications only).
LEED® stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a green building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The purpose of LEED is to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. The LEED system was developed for designing, constructing and certifying the greenest and best buildings possible. ICF’s and concrete can help a project achieve certain LEED credits in specific categories. Consult with a County Materials sales representative for info on LEED points.
YES. With traditional stick building, moisture can become trapped within the open cavity of a wood stud wall causing, mold, mildew and rot problems. Since ICFs are closed cavity construction, there is no place for moisture to accumulate. In addition, EPS foam, rebar and concrete are resistant to mold and mildew.
YES. Most contractors have the ability to create openings in ICF walls using concrete cutting tools that are available at many rental centers.
YES. Every major code body in North America, including ICC and CCMC, has approved ICFs.
ICF walls have a sound transmission classification of STC 48, which is twice as high as a wood-framed wall. Structures built with ICFs provide a quiet, comfortable interior.
Just like wood frame construction, local building codes do require methods for protecting foam below-grade in high termite areas. However, ICF’s do not provide any food value for insects or rodents and termites cannot affect the structural integrity of an ICF wall because it is filled with concrete.
Some states have a code that requires a vapor barrier no matter what type of construction is used. ICFs, however, provide a natural barrier against air and moisture because of the concrete and two layers of foam.
YES. ICF structures are up to 8 1/2 times stronger than wood framed structures. The standard wall design can withstand winds greater than 160 m.p.h. and do not support combustion, making them highly resistant to severe weather and fire.
A wooden, steel or vinyl buck is built and incorporated into the ICF wall prior to pouring concrete. Once the concrete has cured, doors and windows can be installed.
YES. As with any below-grade construction, the industry recommends waterproofing no matter what kind of soil or grade is present for your project. Ask a County Materials' sales representative for available waterproofing products for ICF foundations.
Insulating Concrete Forms make it easy to achieve sustainable construction and optimize a building’s lifetime performance. Because of their numerous advantages, ICFs are rapidly gaining market share in both above and below grade commercial applications.
Over the last ten years, concrete prices have been remarkably stable. Recent price increases in other materials have generated interest in concrete building systems as never before. Labor savings and readily available materials make ICF's, feature for feature, one of the most cost competitive wall systems in the U.S. and Canadian housing markets.
For design and construction, ICFs offer an easy and reliable system. Foam blocks are stacked quickly and easily using common construction tools and equipment. Typical ICF installations can shorten a project’s construction schedule because experienced crews can install units faster, even in winter conditions.
Although it looks new and different, anyone with construction experience can quickly get up to speed with ICF's. An ideal crew has a mix of concrete placement and carpentry experience. Once the crew has some practice, each ICF-build home requires less skilled labor and less total labor than a wood-framed home. And ICF's are very lightweight, so crews stay fresh through the day.
Likewise, ICF's present no problem for the sub-contractors who come after the walls are poured. Since holes, chases and rectangles are easily cut into ICF's with a knife or saw, installation of mechanical systems is a snap. The fastening of drywall and lap siding is just as fast and easy. And mid-course corrections, such as moving an opening, are no big deal – just saw it out and re-form. It’s not more difficult to make changes to an ICF wall – it’s just different.
ICF walls can make a substantial difference to the thermal envelope and reduce a building's heating and cooling costs. The high R-value of the insulation, the thermal mass of the concrete, and the system’s ability to moderate temperature swings all combine to create walls that are extremely energy efficient.
Because of their energy efficiency, ICFs can significantly contribute toward USGBC LEED Energy Optimization credits as well as credits for recycled content and local manufacturing. Additional "green" advantages include air tight construction, no off-gassing for better control of indoor air quality, minimal construction waste, durable building material and outstanding lifetime performance.
Building owners can reduce maintenance and lifetime building costs with ICF construction. Long-lasting concrete walls are strong, highly durable and resistant to pests, fire and mold and mildew, far outlasting other building materials. The comfort, safety and health of occupants are also enhanced because the solid concrete walls provide superior soundproofing from outside noises and are highly resistant to strong winds and severe weather. In addition, the walls do not support combustion and meet 4-hour fire ratings.
ICF homes can be designed in any style, and will accept any traditional exterior finish including vinyl or wood siding, stucco and brick. Because custom angles and curves are easily created, it’s simple to build in bows, bays and radiuses. And ICF systems accommodate any of today’s most popular design features, such as tall walls, large openings, long floor spans and cathedral ceilings. Window and door openings of any size are possible.
Cutting block is simple in ICF construction so, unlike the cumbersome concrete constructions of the past, custom window designs and complex angles are commonplace. When considering building with ICF's, be sure to discuss how to accommodate the doors and windows with your contractor. With ICF's, windows and doors must be cut and blocked before the concrete is poured. Blocking the openings accomplishes two things: it holds back the concrete to preserve the opening, and creates the frames for the doors and windows. Once a crew is experienced in ICF construction, scheduling and speed become key benefits. An experienced crew can put up a house faster with ICF's than with traditional framing.
Originally developed in Europe (where concrete home building is standard) ICF systems have been used successfully around the world for more than 30 years. Thousands of ICF homes have been built in recent years throughout the United States and Canada. They have proven successful in every region and climate, from Orlando to Calgary. ICF systems are accepted by all the major model codes in the U.S., and by the R-2000 program in Canada.
|4 inch ICFs||6 inch ICFs||8 inch ICFs|
Straight Form dimensions:
|48" long, 16" high||48" long, 16" high||48" long, 16" high|
|17" x 33" long, 16" high||21" x 37" long, 16" high||21" x 37" long, 16 high|
|12" x 12" long, 16" high||12" x 12" long, 16" high||12" x 12" long, 16" high|
|Brickledge:||N/A||48" long, 16" high||48" long, 16" high|
|Overall Width with Foam:||9.25"||11"||13"|
|Concrete Volume per Form:||0.07 yards||0.10 yards||0.13 yards|
|R-value for Forms only:||R-23||R-23||R-23|