Insulated Concrete Form (ICF)

No matter what your building, you’ll not find anything more efficient on energy than insulated concrete forms, also known as ICF blocks. They will provide you with amazingly strong, resilient, and fully sustainable forms.


Refer to as an alternative to traditional wood-frame housing, ICF forms are a material used for building walls that are used to construct any kind of Standard Building.


The way this works is that instead of using standard wooden studs, the building and walls are made with styrofoam blocks ICF blocks. Then concrete is poured into these forms. The ICF or insulated concrete forms are the Styrofoam blocks. They snap together like a Lego, and they’re very light and easy to use.


The great thing is they help to insulate the home with the concrete is dry because the permanent form stay put even after the concrete is poured. But the ability to be stacked and or interlinked forms are used to build all kinds of structures that are eventually filled with concrete.


An ICF block is made of expanded polystyrene for the insulation, while the cross ties are typically made of polypropylene plastic. These ICF blocks are resistant to moisture and nonabsorbent,  resistant to mold as well as rotting, they can be recycled, contain a flame retardant, and create nontoxic smoke.

The benefits, when compared to standard wood frames, are immense.


#1 much faster time to build

During the construction of your home, it is easy to cut down two to four months off your construction Time by using ICF forms. ICF blocks save numerous steps both on the inside and outside construction; that’s the main reason they save time.

Because wood degrades and rots if not properly protected from moisture, much time is wasted in wood framing and protecting the wood from moisture. When using ICF forms, ultimately, you’re dealing with concrete that doesn’t have either of these issues. Not to mention the entire ICF system was planned out so that moisture could exit completely. This makes the savings on time to any construction quite large.


#2 ICF Cost

In the past few years, the labor of wood framing has finally caught up to the cost of ICF blocks, making it much more financially wise to use the ICF forms.  It’s gotten affordable for nearly any homeowner. Even though today the cost of ICF Forum building is still 15 to as much as 20 percent more than wood framing, there are rather considerable savings on the back end.

#3 Fire Retardant

Able to withstand even fire that burns on the inside of your home, your ICF walls will still stand because they do not combust. Another advantage is that they stop the fire from spreading through the house; by the time it reaches the exterior walls, it stops.

 #4 Energy Efficiency

Because you have insulation on either side of your walls, you’ll find the temperature does not change inside your house throughout the entire day, maintaining a consistent r-23. Of course, walls with wood-frame lack consistency and will typically range tween are r9 in R-15. This means that it takes considerably less energy to control the temperature in your home, producing a massive savings of 22 as much as 50%.

In a recent study, it was found that ICF walls created 58% greater r value as well as 43% overall energy savings when they were compared to their wood-frame counterparts.

Another huge bonus is that ICF block walls a lot less draft than their wooden frame counterparts. For thermal heat to transfer all the way through to the outside wall, it takes a full three days. There’s virtually no reason to change the thermostat up and down when you have a more even temperature in the entire home.


#5 Quieter

Overall any homemade with insulated concrete forms will be considered much quieter. Standard wood frame walls what’s called sound transmission class rating of 33 to 38. A reading of 54 is standard for the ICF wall. At that level, a human being shouting cannot be heard from the outside of a wall made of ICF.

1,000-Year Homes

You will often hear the term 1000-year homes in reference to ICF made homes. Part of the reason you hear this reference is because the strength in the walls is enough to hold up to 250 miles per hour winds. The homes are also known to withstand earthquakes, and they’re completely resistant to any fire for up to 4 hours. This load aggregation that sits on a wood frame wall simply will not be a problem with an ICF build home.

No formaldehyde, fiberglass, or asbestos is contained in an ICF block. This also includes harmful chlorofluorocarbons and does not have any off-gassing.

The air filtration from an ICF wall is extremely tight. This helps to control the indoor air environment because ICF walls cause a reduction in air filtration by 75%. They completely eradicate dust mites and stop dangerous black mold. Because there is virtually no leakage of outside air, most people find their allergies, including hay fever as well as asthma, and other airborne agitators, significantly reduced, including dirt, dust, and pollen.

These impressive ICF walls are entirely non-toxic and do away with indoor air pollution, which has become a significant health concern these days. ICF houses show no emotions whatsoever.

#6 Net Zero

A home that is highly energy-efficient and fully powered from on-site and off-site renewable energy sources is what is referred to as Net-Zero. This definition was created by the World Green Building Council. When you use insulated concrete forms with solar panels outside, your home becomes NetZero.

There is no requirement in the United States that your home is Net Zero; however, the World GBC continues to promote the transformation of homes to 100% Net-Zero by 2050.


Credit: WorldGBC

#7 Year-Round Building

No matter how hot or colder is it is, no matter what season it is, you can pour concrete into the ICF blocks and continue to build your home. The season of the year does not affect your building progress at all.

#8 Lower Homeowner’s Insurance Premiums

Most homeowners will give you a lower premium on an ICF block home because it is highly resistant to flooding, fire, wind, and mold.

The Home of the Future

We are beginning to see a shift towards ICF and similar high-density exterior wall framing because the energy codes are getting much more stringent in the United States like the ones in Canada. ICF homes have become the standard in Canada, and this is beginning to come across the border into the United States too. There are other options available, but nothing is comparable to ICF.

The downside to ICF Forms is that remodeling can be difficult. As time goes on, it will be very tricky to add windows and doors since you’ll be attempting to cut into concrete. When you design your floor plan, you should think ahead, and we highly suggest you consult with an architect with experience in designing ICF homes.

Because ICF walls are thicker than traditional walls, you will not have as much wall space, and your usable square footage will be smaller. Because of this, we highly recommend you construct all of the interior walls with ICF first.