INSULATED CONCRETE FORMS (ICF)

Living in Canada means being subjected to some of Earth’s most fierce elements. Insulated Concrete Forms – more widely known by its acronym I.C.F. – is the solution to many of those common problems. In a nutshell, ICF is a polystyrene substrate that forms a mould in which to pour a specialized mix of concrete. This technology has been around since the 1970’s; however, was primarily used within the commercial industry. As harsher climates are becoming increasingly pronounced, it is becoming more-and-more important to protect your investment than ever before. Let’s delve into some of the pro’s and cons of this technology.

PRO’s

  1. The interior of the home remains cooler during summer months, and retains heat during the winter over a wood-framed home, which is a direct result of thermal envelope generated by ICF.
  2. The cost of heating and cooling an ICF home is reduced substantially.
  3. Reinforced concrete is a superior product against strong winds like hurricanes and tornado’s, thus minimizing damage.
  4. A home designed with ICF can withstand heavy flooding. Weak-points will be where basement exit doors or windows are located if implemented in design.
  5. An ICF home is the best option against forest-fires if building in an area susceptible. Most ICF polystyrene insulation products contain a fire-retardant  surrounding the exterior of the home. Utilizing exterior concrete-fibre siding will also further protect the home.
  6. An ICF home will reduce the overall cost of insurance premiums.
  7. Most ICF polystyrene is made with recycled styrofoam, thus reducing landfill waste.
  8. Lower energy bills as a result of an ICF home reduces your environmental footprint. Adding Solar-panels and LED lighting will further decrease the overall footprint, while generating excess electricity for the grid can earn kick-backs – depending on your build location.

CON’s

  1. The cost to build the home is more expensive than a typical wood-framed home being that it is solid concrete, rebar, and labour intensive.
  2. It is very difficult to move windows and doors (not impossible) following the pour of the concrete.
  3. Requires a special certification for builders to construct, which can add time and finances to the overall build.
  4. A fully enclosed ICF structure requires a proper Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system for habitation.

If we missed something, please let us know.