With the current increase in lumber costs, insulated concrete form construction may be more affordable than you think. Insulating concrete forms, or ICFs, are molds that hold freshly poured concrete to construct walls in a home or other building project. They are a unique and potentially cost-effective alternative to the traditional wood-frame material that you find in buildings. At Shelby Materials, we assist our Central Indiana customers in utilizing ICFs for their construction projects using our expertise in ready mix concrete.
How do Insulating Concrete Forms Work?
In a traditional structure, lumber is used to frame walls with studs that hold up your building. When you use this method of construction, the walls are instead formed by styrofoam blocks known as insulating concrete forms. But don’t worry, your home won’t be held up with just styrofoam… the builder then pours concrete into the forms to craft a sturdy and well-insulated home.
The forms are simple and flexible for builders to work with, snapping and stacking together almost like Lego bricks to create walls and ceilings made of concrete. In the end, the interior and exterior will be treated with traditional finishes, so homes and buildings will look similar to traditional wood-frame material aside from the benefit of thicker walls.
When were Insulating Concrete Forms created?
Insulated concrete form construction goes back to WWII in Switzerland, where wood fiber blocks were first held together by cement. Technology advanced over the next few decades, with the foam blocks we use today invented by a Canadian in the ‘60s. Americans started using ICFs around the ‘80s and ‘90s, working toward building code acceptance with the founding of the Insulating Concrete Form Association (ICFA). Today, the growing market for ICFs includes not just residential homes, but also apartments/condos, hotels and retail buildings.
What Benefit will I find in ICF?
There are many benefits to building and homeowners when installing ICFs. Using insulated concrete form construction will result in strong walls that can improve your structure’s disaster resistance and safety. The strength of the walls can also help prevent mold, mildew, and insect damage, since wood is much more susceptible to moisture rot.
The nature of the insulation in this material also means that it provides sound-blocking ability to homeowners and building owners, and will improve indoor comfort with heat or air conditioning retention. And with superior heat retention, you’ll also see more energy efficiency, resulting in less HVAC maintenance and lower utility bills.
Are There Benefits for the Builder?
Homebuilders and contractors will also benefit from insulating concrete forms for its fast and easy construction. It offers more flexibility in the building process and is much lighter weight than traditional lumber for easy shipping and transportation. Builders like Shelby also enjoy working with ICFs for their compatibility with other carpenter trades, and their ability to meet higher energy code directives.
How do I Start my ICF Installation?
Contact us or our Insulating Concrete Forms partner, Nudura, to find out how to compare the costs of traditional wood framing with ICFs. You might be surprised at how much you can save when you use ICF construction with Shelby Materials!