WHAT IS ICF?
ICF stands for “Insulated Concrete Form.” An ICF block is an expanded polystyrene modular building form made for erecting concrete walls cost effectively. They are designed to be put in place quickly and are structurally strong enough to withstand the fluid pressure of the concrete that is poured inside to fill up the wall.
Each form is comprised of two pieces of EPS (expanded polystyrene) and is held together by polypropylene webs. ICF forms have a pattern of interlocking “nubs” on the top and bottom that allow them to lock together for quick and easy assembly. Re-bar is placed in each course of block horizontally and vertically. Concrete is poured into the wall after the blocks are stacked to complete the process. The combination of concrete and re-bar are what make the finished product a “reinforced concrete wall.” The foam stays in place after the concrete is poured to provided insulation and an attachment for interior and exterior finishes.
Any conventional type of exterior siding or interior finish can be attached to the blocks. The insulating capacity of expanded polystyrene combined with the structural strength and thermal mass of concrete make ICF walls stronger, safer, more comfortable, and more energy efficient than typical wood framed or concrete block wall.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN BENEFITS OF ICF?
STRONGER- HURRICANE RESISTANT
Reinforced concrete is stronger than a typical wood framed wall. ICF walls have up to 9 times more axial load resistance than a typical wood-framed wall. Reinforced concrete construction offers enhanced protection for your home, especially in high-wind areas, and during tornadoes and hurricanes.
SAFER- FIRE RESISTANT
ICF walls are built with steel reinforced concrete and fire retardant-treated expanded polystyrene foam. Compared to wood-framed walls, ICF walls are far more likely to remain standing in case of a fire, and are far more resistant to the spread of fire.
QUIETER- SOUND RESISTANT
An ICF’s double foam insulated concrete core acts as an effective sound barrier, dampening sound vibrations and ensuring a serene and comfortable ambiance within the home.
MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT- BUILD GREEN
ICF walls are highly insulated with no air spaces between studs. This vastly reduces air infiltration. When combined with an air exchange system, ICF construction technology helps prevent the effects of external temperature swings and provides superior energy-efficiency compared to typical wood-framed homes.
HOW MUCH DOES AN ICF SYSTEM COST?
The cost of building an ICF home is usually higher than traditional stick framing. Costs vary depending on the specifics of each project, but usually the total will be 7% -10% higher overall than with a similar traditionally framed wood house.
However, ICF homes are so energy efficient that the cost difference is typically recouped in energy savings and may even amount to a lower monthly out of pocket expense. Also, most insurance companies offer substantial discounts for using ICF because of their fire retardant qualities, and overall physical strength.
WHAT SERVICES DOES COASTAL ICF PROVIDE?
We provide several levels of involvement in your ICF project. We will work as a subcontractor with you or your builder to create your ICF walls. We can construct the entire building envelope to include the foundation, ICF walls, and wood or metal framing. We also occasionally provide scaffold rental and technical support for folks who are interested in DIY projects.
WHAT DOES A FINISHED PROJECT LOOK LIKE?
An ICF home looks like any conventional new home on the inside and on the outside. The only noticeable difference is the window sills, which may appear deeper due to the thickness of the walls.
WHY DON'T I SEE MORE ICF PROJECTS?
ICF built homes are expanding rapidly. In some areas of the country, energy codes and other local conditions contribute to widespread use of ICF’s. Many cities are beginning to use ICF’s for their low-income housing; realizing that while the home may cost slightly more to build, it is much less expensive to live in and maintain. More and more developers across the nation are constructing communities entirely of ICF’s.