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.

Regardless of which system is employed, the resulting walls combine the thermal mass and strength of concrete with the energy-saving benefits of integral insulation on both sides. Depending on the interior width of the cell (for most homes, either 4 or 6 inches, which combined with 2?1/2-inch-thick foam on either side create 9- to 11-inch-thick walls before finishes are applied), ICF walls can achieve finished-wall R-values from the low to high 20s.

As such, ICFs are often referred to, and credited, as a green building system that’s more thermally efficient than traditional wood-framed assemblies. In addition to combining structural, insulating, thermal mass, and air-sealing values in one step, ICFs also achieve integral sound abatement qualities and are less threatened by pests or moisture infiltration.

The foam used in ICFs does not produce or emit VOCs, CFCs, or HCFCs in its manufacture or application. Also, an increasing number of ICF manufacturers use recycled polystyrene in their blocks (garnered from shipping and packaging waste) and polypropylene for their ties; any foam waste generated on site from cutting or shaping the blocks or panels can be recycled—a long-standing practice for EPS users with a national recycling infrastructure in place.

Installation Best Practices

Experienced builders, suppliers, and industry experts advocate a measured, step-by-step progression toward using ICFs as a home’s primary above-grade wall system.

To avoid getting burned the first time out, Andy Lennox, vice president of marketing for Logix, advises ICF newbies to subcontract an experienced crew for a below-grade basement installation, then rely on their own crews to build an ICF basement before tackling an above-grade installation. “Taking that first step allows you to build [frame] on top of that ICF basement and appreciate how straight and true it is,” as a confidence-builder going forward, he says.

“It’s not a difficult system to learn and you can do a good job relatively quickly,” says Donn Thompson, director of Low Rise Buildings for the Portland Cement Association (PCA) in Skokie, Ill., which promotes ICFs among other concrete building applications. “But an experienced firm can help with some of the tricks and tips so you can be most efficient.”

Once you’re clear of the ground, building with ICFs gets a little more complex than its use as a basement wall system. In addition, subtle differences among products and systems, including accessory components and reversible panels and blocks, also can have a big impact on product estimating procurement, labor efficiency, waste management, system performance, and their ultimate cost.

Like any well-built home, and especially one meant to achieve superior energy and environmental standards, proper and efficient use of ICFs starts with a floor plan and housing design that optimizes the system and its benefits. For instance, while the lightweight foam blocks and panels can be cut to turn radiused corners and make odd angles (some suppliers even offer smaller components for those instances), the ideal footprint only breaks at right angles and is designed on modules that match the dimensions of the blocks.