Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF):
Savings, Security, Soundproofing

You may have heard of ICF homes, or homes constructed with Insulated Concrete Forms.

Although you may not have heard much buzz until recently, these homes have been constructed for the past 30 years - particularly in areas of Canada and Europe.

Although the forms of ICF vary, from sheets with spacers to what I like to call "Legos on steroids", the idea behind ICFs is a foam based panel or block with a hollow core. This core is often reinforced with steel, and then cement is poured into the hollow portion and left to cure.

ICF home, insulated concrete forms

After the curing is complete, the foam structure is left in place. The foam and concrete together provide insulation, increased protection from fire and storms, space to run electrical wiring and plumbing, a backing for interior walls and exterior siding or brick, and energy efficiency .

ICF homes are touted as superior by many manufacturers, builders, and homeowners for reasons that many of us might find compelling.

Three areas of benefit for ICF homes are:



With energy savings of 25 - 80% claimed with these insulated concrete form systems, they are definitely worth giving a closer look.

An ICF home may cost a bit more initially (with estimates ranging from 0-7%), yet there are savings monthly on your energy bill that will last for as long as you live in your home.

Some other areas where savings may be realized with ICF building:

  • Fewer subcontractors required on the job (compared to wood framing )

  • No additional expenditure to provide insulation to exterior walls

  • Smaller HVAC system is possible due to the high energy efficiency of the structure

  • Less repair and maintenance

  • Higher resale value likely when you decide to sell your home

  • Possible lower insurance premiums because of the safety features of such a structure

  • An Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) may be an option when building an ICF home. Such a product may allow you to qualify for a larger mortgage and possibly a more competitive interest rate, flexible terms, or lower fees.

Security Features

Insulated Concrete Form building offers security from the elements that may be unmatched by other systems. This cement-based building boasts the following benefits:
  • Increased safety during tornados, hurricanes, high winds, and seismic activity

  • Moisture resistant - will not support the growth of mold or mildew

  • Less inviting to insect pests

  • Lower air infiltration due to the tightness of the building envelope (keeping allergens outdoors)

  • Increased protection from fire
    (giving a longer period of time in which to escape the dwelling - some websites rate their systems with a 4 hour fire protection rating)

Sound Proofing

Most of us would like to envision our new home as a sanctuary from the noise pollution of everyday life.

The truth is, there have been numerous "green" homes built - with safety features such as hardwood floors (sealed to prevent outgassing), solid wood cabinets, VOC -free paint, and numerous other "safety" features, but whose noise level could nearly knock you off your feet.

Any of us who have children would likely vouch for the fact that our homes' noise factors (particularly with the increase in video and computer games as opposed to outdoor exploration) can be brain-rattling on the best of days.

The foam and cement in ICF built homes provide both a thermal as well as an acoustical insulation .This cuts down on noise even between levels of the home, as well as from the outside to the inside.

Some folks claim they hear no traffic noise, and even airplane engines are silenced.

Of course, your house would not be completely sound proof, but could you imagine a quiet, comfortable sanctuary after a long day's work?

Insulated Concrete Form homes may be considered to be SUSTAINABLE as well. They are constructed to endure for many, many years, and in addition, several companies claim that their product is made from recycled materials.

These homes may be increasingly viewed as an environmentally-friendly answer to the increased use/cost
of fossil fuels.

Go from Insulated Concrete Forms to House Framing

Go to SIPS Page

Go to Building Your Green Home Page

Check out the website for more informative facts and pictures of ICF building. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for listings of ICF producers and suppliers.

The time is NOW. The future is HERE. The color is GREEN.


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