What are Insulated Concrete Forms?
Insulated concrete forms (ICF) is a system of construction that is made of concrete. It is known for providing unmatched comfort, toughness and energy efficiency as opposed to the other traditional methods of building. This technology is used mostly in the construction of residences but is now becoming popular amongst commercial manufacturers and contractors.
Concrete is being used for construction since a long time but the use of concrete in the technology of ICF puts a durable, proven material into a lightweight insulating form that is easy to install.
How Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF) Work?
Slabs made of insulated concrete forms are walls of insulated concrete that act as barriers to the temperature of the air outside the structures. They keep the costs of energy down. Such walls are stacked and then braced. Concrete is poured into a form. The walls that are ready have attachment flanges like sliding for exterior finishing as well as interior finishes.
The technology that is used in insulated concrete forms or ICFs is around since polystyrene foam was introduced in the 70s. This foam does the work of a face shell as it has reinforced concrete on the inside. It has a plastic tie or flange that supports the movement as well as transportation of the concrete wall. It also acts as a furring strip for the exterior and interior finishes. Usually, the polystyrene panels can be reversed with plastic ties that are clearly marked and mounted in the middle. These ties are embedded ½ inch into the foam. This provides more stability at the time of movement and while adding concrete. It is this polystyrene foam that gives continuous insulation right from top plate to the footing of the wall. As the polystyrene foam blocks out the moisture, concrete is able to dry faster. It becomes stronger on being poured into insulated panels.
Normally, the concrete that is used in the insulated walls is same as that which is used in the traditional construction of foundation. However, it is generally made of a smaller size so that the pumping as well as pouring is smooth.
Buying Insulated Concrete Forms- Things to Keep in Mind
If you are on the lookout for ICF for the construction of a commercial building or house, investigate all the companies that install it. See to it that they are experienced enough to install the ICFs properly and that they will offer you a reasonable insulated concrete forms cost. You have to be aware of the fact that several manufacturers of such walls ship the pre-assembled materials in order to minimize labor on-site. A professional construction crew will install the walls easily without wasting any material.
You will have to consider the cost of shipping from the producer to the site where they will be installed, the labor that will be required as well as the quantity of waste that will have to be taken away. The contractor will add all these expenses and include them in the final tally that you will have to pay. You will have to discuss all these factors with prospective contractors and then go for the one who will do the job well.
Advantages of Insulated Concrete Forms
- Energy Efficient (Green Product)
- Weather Resistance
- Insect/ Pest Resistant
- Lower Insurance Cost
- Can be constructed fast
- More fire resistant than wood construction
- Environment Friendly
- Superior Quality
Insulated Concrete Forms Disadvantages
Though we discussed many benefits or advantages ICFs provide, there are some minor disadvantages too which must be considered before taking buying decisions. The main disadvantage is the costing factor of ICFs. The price of insulating can be significantly more than the traditional concrete forms, just because of the added benefits ICFs provide. However, when you consider the energy efficiency of Insulated Forms and the lesser insurance coverage costs it has, the disadvantage becomes an advantage, in fact, in the long run.
The popularity of insulated concrete forms (ICF) is increasing every day. It is becoming the preferred material for use in commercial and residential projects. It is becoming the norm in building construction thanks to its energy efficiency and superior quality.