Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF's)

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Insulating Concrete Form (ICF) is a system of formwork for concrete that stays in place as permanent building insulation for energy-efficient, cast-in-place, reinforced concrete walls, floors, and roofs.  The polystyrene forms are interlocking modular units that are dry-stacked (without motar) and filled with concrete. The forms lock together somewhat like Lego bricks and serve to create a form for the structural walls or floors of a building.  Nailing strips embedded in the forms facilitate attachment of interior and esterior finishes.  ICF construction is becoming increasingly commonplace for both low rise commercial and residential construction as more stringent energy efficiency and natural disaster resistant building codes are adopted.  ICF's have many advantages over conventional construction:

Energy Efficiency

•  Minimal, if any, air leaks, which improves comfort and reduces heat loss compared to walls without a solid air barrier.

•  High Thermal resistance (R-value) typically above R-20;  This results in saving energy compared with uninsulated masonry. 

•  Continuous Insulation without Thermal Bridges or 'insulation gaps' as is common in framed construction.

•  Thermal mass, when used well and combined with passive solar design, can play an important role in further reductions in energy use, especially in climates where it's common to have outside temperatures swing above inside temperatures during the day and below at night.

Strength and Durability

•  Insulating Concrete Forms create a structural concrete wall that is up to 10 times stronger than wood framed structures.

•  Structural integrity for better resistance to forces of nature, compared with framed walls.

•  Concrete and Polystyrene do not rot when they get wet.  However, polystyrene must be protected from boring insects and rodents by appropriate means.

Sound Absorption

•  ICF walls have much lower rates of acoustic transmission. Standard thickness ICF walls have shown sound transmission coefficients (STC) between 46 and 50 compared to 36 for standard fiberglass insulation and gypsum walls.