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Insulated Concrete Form (ICF)

The forms are interlocking modular units that are dry-stacked (without mortar) and filled with concrete. The forms lock together somewhat like Lego bricks and serve to create a form for the structural walls of a building. Concrete is pumped into the cavity to form the structural element of the walls. Usually reinforcing steel (rebar) is added before concrete placement to give the resulting walls flexural strength, similar to bridges and high-rise buildings made of concrete (see Reinforced concrete). The forms are filled with concrete every several feet in order to reduce the risk of blowouts. The foam on either side the forms can easily accommodate electrical and plumbing installations.

Manufacturers commonly cite the following advantages compared to traditional building materials, especially in residential and light commercial construction. It needs to be said, however, that it is questionable what is meant by "traditional building materials"; this comparison apparently assumes different worst-case alternatives for each point.

· Minimal, if any, air leaks, which improves comfort and less heat loss compared with walls without an air barrier.

· Thermal resistance (R-value) typically above 3 K·m²/W (in American customary units: R-17), according to some manufacturers up to 10 K·m²/W); this results in saving energy compared with insinuated masonry (see comparison).

· High sound absorption, which helps produce peace and quiet compared with framed walls.

· Structural integrity for better resistance to forces of nature, compared with framed walls

o Higher resale value due to longevity of materials

o More insect resistant than wood frame construction

o When the building is constructed on a concrete slab, the walls and floors form one continuous surface; this keeps out insects.

· Reduces HVAC operating costs by up to 40%.

· Construction methods are easy to learn, and manufacturers often have training available

ABOVE: ICF wall system being filled with concrete from a pump truck boom.

ABOVE: Erection of exterior ICF wall system using commercial braces.

ABOVE: Bracing of exterior wall assembly.

ABOVE: ICF exterior walls being constructed for the Jones house- Odessa, Texas. The orange “X” on the ICF block indicates a joint that must be re-enforced with plywood prior to pouring concrete into the exterior walls to prevent a “blowout”.

ABOVE: A typical door/ wall assembly using V-Buck forms.

ABOVE: Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) block section drawing showing how the system works.

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