What You Need to Know About ICFs
When researching efficient ways to build a residential or commercial building, you're guaranteed to come across mentions of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs). That's because this construction methodology has been gaining popularity due to its ease of use, high-energy efficiency levels and multiple other benefits which we will explore in this article.
Before outlining all of the benefits of ICFs, it's important to first understand the composition of the product. ICFs are hollow, lightweight forms manufactured using high density expanded polystyrene (EPS) panels which are connected by webs. They provide all of the layers in a wall that should be there without having to build them individually.
During construction the forms are stacked atop one another, braced, reinforced with a steel rod and then filled with concrete. This assembly provides an air tight building envelope that is insulated, durable, disaster resilient and energy efficient.
Compared to a traditional construction site, ICFs are lightweight which reduces the amount of heavy machinery and equipment needed at the job site. This means reduced construction time and labour costs, a cleaner job site, reduction of waste and an overall safer construction environment. The quick and easy installation has especially become a preferred choice in areas that experience harsh climates.
Unlike traditional building materials, ICF's also provide numerous benefits to the homeowner. The combination of expanded polystyrene insulation and concrete thermal mass creates an airtight seal which leads to an improvement in the air quality, a reduction in noise transference, and a higher level of prevention against the entry of dust and pollen into the home.
Additionally, ICF structures also have a high resistance to fire, wind and storms, and protect against mould, mildew growth and insects. This contributes to a healthier, comfortable way of life.
ICF structures also make a lot of economic sense as they are known for being better insulated and more energy efficient than a home built through traditional methods. Homes built with ICF exterior walls require an estimated 44% less energy to heat and 32% less energy to cool than comparable frame houses. This helps homeowners reduce their energy bills by 30-50% since temperatures within the home remain consistent.
Lastly, ICF products are a significant contributor in environmentally responsible design and are recognized by the US and Canadian Green Building Council in their LEED programs. An ICF home offers a greener building method known to reduce land filling, methane and other harmful emissions. So when you build with ICF's, you're also helping to build towards a greener future.
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