Launch Slideshow

Reward Walls. The preassembled iForm system features a universal design that reduces on-site cuts, waste, and foam dust and creates finished walls from 9 to 17 inches thick. Each section features eight recycled polypropylene vertical ties between 2?1/2-inch-thick foam panels; ties are placed 6 inches o.c. with 1?1/4-inch-wide, full-length vertical furring strips recessed  inch behind the outside panel surface. An interlocking, 1-inch-tall, open-tooth design reduces the intrusion of dirt, debris, and concrete between teeth. Finished walls withstand winds of more than 200 mph. System waste is 100% recyclable, says the maker. 800.468.6344. www.rewardwalls.com.

A selection of Insulated Concrete Forms

A selection of Insulated Concrete Forms

  • ARXX. A trio of ICF systems include knock-down and preassembled interlocking blocks to create walls between 4 and 24 inches thick and 60 feet high. The systems offer two- to four-hour fire resistance based on core thickness, a noise rating of STC 50 or higher, and resistance to F5 tornado winds. The ARXX Prime system (shown) is available with a 6-, 8-, or 10-inch core width and features an exposed web design (furring strips) on both faces for attachment of finish claddings. The products include recycled content and emit no VOCs. 800.293.3210. www.arxx.com.

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    ARXX. A trio of ICF systems include knock-down and preassembled interlocking blocks to create walls between 4 and 24 inches thick and 60 feet high. The systems offer two- to four-hour fire resistance based on core thickness, a noise rating of STC 50 or higher, and resistance to F5 tornado winds. The ARXX Prime system (shown) is available with a 6-, 8-, or 10-inch core width and features an exposed web design (furring strips) on both faces for attachment of finish claddings. The products include recycled content and emit no VOCs. 800.293.3210. www.arxx.com.

    600

    ARXX. A trio of ICF systems include knock-down and preassembled interlocking blocks to create walls between 4 and 24 inches thick and 60 feet high. The systems offer two- to four-hour fire resistance based on core thickness, a noise rating of STC 50 or higher, and resistance to F5 tornado winds. The ARXX Prime system (shown) is available with a 6-, 8-, or 10-inch core width and features an exposed web design (furring strips) on both faces for attachment of finish claddings. The products include recycled content and emit no VOCs. 800.293.3210. www.arxx.com.

  • Fox Blocks. Preassembled interlocking blocks are offered in 4-, 6-, 8-, and 12-inch core thicknesses and measure 16 inches tall. Blocks, including corners, are designed to be reversible to speed construction and reduce on-site cuts, foam dust, and waste. Accessories include 45-degree angles, taper tops, T-blocks, and corbel ledges. The system can achieve STC ratings of up to 50 and is designed to meet seismic and high-wind codes. Plastic ties and forms are recyclable and blocks emit no VOCs, says the maker. 877.369.2562. www.foxblocks.com.

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    Fox Blocks. Preassembled interlocking blocks are offered in 4-, 6-, 8-, and 12-inch core thicknesses and measure 16 inches tall. Blocks, including corners, are designed to be reversible to speed construction and reduce on-site cuts, foam dust, and waste. Accessories include 45-degree angles, taper tops, T-blocks, and corbel ledges. The system can achieve STC ratings of up to 50 and is designed to meet seismic and high-wind codes. Plastic ties and forms are recyclable and blocks emit no VOCs, says the maker. 877.369.2562. www.foxblocks.com.

    600

    Fox Blocks. Preassembled interlocking blocks are offered in 4-, 6-, 8-, and 12-inch core thicknesses and measure 16 inches tall. Blocks, including corners, are designed to be reversible to speed construction and reduce on-site cuts, foam dust, and waste. Accessories include 45-degree angles, taper tops, T-blocks, and corbel ledges. The system can achieve STC ratings of up to 50 and is designed to meet seismic and high-wind codes. Plastic ties and forms are recyclable and blocks emit no VOCs, says the maker. 877.369.2562. www.foxblocks.com.

  • Greenblock. Knock-down and preassembled (fixed-web) forms are offered in 4- to 8-inch core thicknesses and measure 48 inches long by 12 inches high. Recycled-content polypropylene web ties are set 6 inches o.c. to create a stronger block and require less bracing; subsurface, 1 1/2-inch-wide furring strips are marked on both faces of the block for efficient finish material installation. Poured walls achieve an STC rating of 55-plus and can be designed to meet seismic and high-wind codes. A patented interlocking design reduces lifting potential during the concrete pour and creates water dams to prevent seepage and help ensure a proper cure. 800.216.1820. www.greenblock.com

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    Greenblock. Knock-down and preassembled (fixed-web) forms are offered in 4- to 8-inch core thicknesses and measure 48 inches long by 12 inches high. Recycled-content polypropylene web ties are set 6 inches o.c. to create a stronger block and require less bracing; subsurface, 1 1/2-inch-wide furring strips are marked on both faces of the block for efficient finish material installation. Poured walls achieve an STC rating of 55-plus and can be designed to meet seismic and high-wind codes. A patented interlocking design reduces lifting potential during the concrete pour and creates water dams to prevent seepage and help ensure a proper cure. 800.216.1820. www.greenblock.com

    600

    Greenblock. Knock-down and preassembled (fixed-web) forms are offered in 4- to 8-inch core thicknesses and measure 48 inches long by 12 inches high. Recycled-content polypropylene web ties are set 6 inches o.c. to create a stronger block and require less bracing; subsurface, 1 1/2-inch-wide furring strips are marked on both faces of the block for efficient finish material installation. Poured walls achieve an STC rating of 55-plus and can be designed to meet seismic and high-wind codes. A patented interlocking design reduces lifting potential during the concrete pour and creates water dams to prevent seepage and help ensure a proper cure. 800.216.1820. www.greenblock.com.  

  • IntegraSpec. The companys panelized (knock-down) system features bi-directional and reversible components to ease installation and reduce cutting, dust, and waste. An embedded insert accepts interlocking webs (spacers) to create core widths from 4 to 12 inches, with H clips to combine spacers for wider core dimensions. Inserts also help mitigate form lift during the pour and provide 1 5/8-inch-wide nailing strips that are marked on both sides of each panel. Standard assembled wall sections (blocks) measure 48 inches long by 12 1/4 inches high. 800.382.9102. www.integraspec.com.

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    IntegraSpec. The companys panelized (knock-down) system features bi-directional and reversible components to ease installation and reduce cutting, dust, and waste. An embedded insert accepts interlocking webs (spacers) to create core widths from 4 to 12 inches, with H clips to combine spacers for wider core dimensions. Inserts also help mitigate form lift during the pour and provide 1 5/8-inch-wide nailing strips that are marked on both sides of each panel. Standard assembled wall sections (blocks) measure 48 inches long by 12 1/4 inches high. 800.382.9102. www.integraspec.com.

    600

    IntegraSpec. The companys panelized (knock-down) system features bi-directional and reversible components to ease installation and reduce cutting, dust, and waste. An embedded insert accepts interlocking webs (spacers) to create core widths from 4 to 12 inches, with H clips to combine spacers for wider core dimensions. Inserts also help mitigate form lift during the pour and provide 1 5/8-inch-wide nailing strips that are marked on both sides of each panel. Standard assembled wall sections (blocks) measure 48 inches long by 12 1/4 inches high. 800.382.9102. www.integraspec.com.

  • Logix. Platinum series features the new XRV knock-down, 2 7/8-inch-thick panels with web inserts to use around complex rebar cages; the panelized system can integrate with the companys preassembled blocks to optimize material and on-site labor costs for a hybrid ICF system. Core thicknesses range from 4 to 8 inches. Both panels and blocks use BASFs Neopor graphite beads that reflect and absorb heat to boost thermal efficiencies. Blocks are made with recycled content, and waste can be recycled, according to the manufacturer. Finished walls achieve an STC-56 sound rating. 888.415.6449. www.logixicf.com.

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    Logix. Platinum series features the new XRV knock-down, 2 7/8-inch-thick panels with web inserts to use around complex rebar cages; the panelized system can integrate with the companys preassembled blocks to optimize material and on-site labor costs for a hybrid ICF system. Core thicknesses range from 4 to 8 inches. Both panels and blocks use BASFs Neopor graphite beads that reflect and absorb heat to boost thermal efficiencies. Blocks are made with recycled content, and waste can be recycled, according to the manufacturer. Finished walls achieve an STC-56 sound rating. 888.415.6449. www.logixicf.com.

    600

    Logix. Platinum series features the new XRV knock-down, 2 7/8-inch-thick panels with web inserts to use around complex rebar cages; the panelized system can integrate with the companys preassembled blocks to optimize material and on-site labor costs for a hybrid ICF system. Core thicknesses range from 4 to 8 inches. Both panels and blocks use BASFs Neopor graphite beads that reflect and absorb heat to boost thermal efficiencies. Blocks are made with recycled content, and waste can be recycled, according to the manufacturer. Finished walls achieve an STC-56 sound rating. 888.415.6449. www.logixicf.com.

  • Owens Corning. The Fold-Form system of preassembled interlocking blocks enable walls from 4 to 16 inches thick. Universal Corner Kits and hardware/accessory packages allow for faster and complete installations and a wide variety of shapes, including curved walls, brick ledges, and offsets. The system offers resistance to 250-mph winds, achieves up to an STC-52 sound resistance rating, and offers 67% less air infiltration than a typical wood-framed building, says the firm. 800.438.7465. www.foldform.com.

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    Owens Corning. The Fold-Form system of preassembled interlocking blocks enable walls from 4 to 16 inches thick. Universal Corner Kits and hardware/accessory packages allow for faster and complete installations and a wide variety of shapes, including curved walls, brick ledges, and offsets. The system offers resistance to 250-mph winds, achieves up to an STC-52 sound resistance rating, and offers 67% less air infiltration than a typical wood-framed building, says the firm. 800.438.7465. www.foldform.com.

    600

    Owens Corning. The Fold-Form system of preassembled interlocking blocks enable walls from 4 to 16 inches thick. Universal Corner Kits and hardware/accessory packages allow for faster and complete installations and a wide variety of shapes, including curved walls, brick ledges, and offsets. The system offers resistance to 250-mph winds, achieves up to an STC-52 sound resistance rating, and offers 67% less air infiltration than a typical wood-framed building, says the firm. 800.438.7465. www.foldform.com.

  • Quad-Lock. This panelized (knock-down) system combines 2 1/4- or 4 1/4-inch-thick panels and high-density polyethylene inserts to create standard wall widths from 4 to 14 inches or 12 inches wider with an extender tie. Optional 1?1/2-inch-wide fastening strip inserts can be installed every 12 inches; plastic ties lock into the strips to create a vertical fastening surface. Assembled blocks measure 48 inches long by 12 inches high, and finished walls achieve an STC rating of 50-plus. Systems for ICF floors and existing wall retrofits also are available. 888.711.5625. www.quadlock.com.

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    Quad-Lock. This panelized (knock-down) system combines 2 1/4- or 4 1/4-inch-thick panels and high-density polyethylene inserts to create standard wall widths from 4 to 14 inches or 12 inches wider with an extender tie. Optional 1?1/2-inch-wide fastening strip inserts can be installed every 12 inches; plastic ties lock into the strips to create a vertical fastening surface. Assembled blocks measure 48 inches long by 12 inches high, and finished walls achieve an STC rating of 50-plus. Systems for ICF floors and existing wall retrofits also are available. 888.711.5625. www.quadlock.com.

    600

    Quad-Lock. This panelized (knock-down) system combines 2 1/4- or 4 1/4-inch-thick panels and high-density polyethylene inserts to create standard wall widths from 4 to 14 inches or 12 inches wider with an extender tie. Optional 1?1/2-inch-wide fastening strip inserts can be installed every 12 inches; plastic ties lock into the strips to create a vertical fastening surface. Assembled blocks measure 48 inches long by 12 inches high, and finished walls achieve an STC rating of 50-plus. Systems for ICF floors and existing wall retrofits also are available. 888.711.5625. www.quadlock.com.

  • Reward Walls. The preassembled iForm system features a universal design that reduces on-site cuts, waste, and foam dust and creates finished walls from 9 to 17 inches thick. Each section features eight recycled polypropylene vertical ties between 2?1/2-inch-thick foam panels; ties are placed 6 inches o.c. with 1?1/4-inch-wide, full-length vertical furring strips recessed  inch behind the outside panel surface. An interlocking, 1-inch-tall, open-tooth design reduces the intrusion of dirt, debris, and concrete between teeth. Finished walls withstand winds of more than 200 mph. System waste is 100% recyclable, says the maker. 800.468.6344. www.rewardwalls.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmp139F%2Etmp_tcm131-406551.jpg

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    Reward Walls. The preassembled iForm system features a universal design that reduces on-site cuts, waste, and foam dust and creates finished walls from 9 to 17 inches thick. Each section features eight recycled polypropylene vertical ties between 2?1/2-inch-thick foam panels; ties are placed 6 inches o.c. with 1?1/4-inch-wide, full-length vertical furring strips recessed inch behind the outside panel surface. An interlocking, 1-inch-tall, open-tooth design reduces the intrusion of dirt, debris, and concrete between teeth. Finished walls withstand winds of more than 200 mph. System waste is 100% recyclable, says the maker. 800.468.6344. www.rewardwalls.com.

    600

    Reward Walls. The preassembled iForm system features a universal design that reduces on-site cuts, waste, and foam dust and creates finished walls from 9 to 17 inches thick. Each section features eight recycled polypropylene vertical ties between 2 1/2-inch-thick foam panels; ties are placed 6 inches o.c. with 1 1/4-inch-wide, full-length vertical furring strips recessed inch behind the outside panel surface. An interlocking, 1-inch-tall, open-tooth design reduces the intrusion of dirt, debris, and concrete between teeth. Finished walls withstand winds of more than 200 mph. System waste is 100% recyclable, says the maker. 800.468.6344. www.rewardwalls.com.

If the term “insulated concrete form” (ICF) is foreign to you, it might be time to expand your vocabulary of above-wall building systems. With a 20-year track record in the U.S., these interlocking, open-cell foam blocks that are field-filled with concrete address a variety of current housing issues, from a shrinking pool of skilled construction labor to demand for more energy-efficient and environmentally responsible homes.

In many aspects, ICFs offer a simpler and arguably better mousetrap to conventional sticks and blocks to meet those issues, and those who have tried and succeeded with the technology swear by it. “Once you learn how to work with ICFs, it’s the only system you want to build,” says Ben Lazowski, co-founder of P&P Construction in Camano Island, Wash., north of Seattle.

But even Lazowski and other converts concede a learning curve and culture shift with ICFs, as well as some tricks of the trade not found in most instruction manuals that are the keys to optimizing the system and avoiding costly problems. And, as with any building system, ICFs are still just one piece of a larger green-building puzzle.

How They Work

ICFs are molded from expanded or extruded polystyrene into lightweight, open-cell blocks or panels that serve, like CMUs, as the forms for poured concrete above- and below-grade walls.

The molded blocks are preassembled with metal or high-density plastic inserts (“ties”) within the open cell that add strength and stability to the blocks for the concrete pour. Ties also provide vertical nailing strips, usually just below the outside surfaces and marked for reference on the blocks, for the application of interior and exterior finishes.

Panel systems, also called “knock-down” ICFs, are similar to blocks except they are field-assembled into the permanent wall forms. Simply, the panels (and their ties) ship more efficiently compared to molded blocks that take up a lot of room on a flatbed; it’s a builder’s choice to balance the trade-off between shipping costs and field assembly. Most ICF manufacturers make the pre­assembled/molded blocks, but some make both blocks and panels to enable “hybrid” systems that integrate the best of both, and even more so with components and accessories, like corners, that are designed to be reversible—as left or right corners, for instance, or either-side-up to help speed installation and reduce on-site waste.