Pros and Cons of Insulated Concrete Forms

What are Insulated Concrete Forms?

Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) were first used in the 1940s, and are blocks intended for the creation of cast-in-place, reinforced walls made from concrete. These forms are designed to be permanent support for the wall that frees up space to easily install plumbing and lay wires, while also adding insulation to the building’s interior.

Insulated concrete forms are H-shaped, where two concrete walls can be cast in between insulated layers. The only difference when compared to traditional wall construction is that ones with forms will be a bit wider, but upon completion look nearly identical to standard construction. Are insulated concrete forms the right choice for your next construction project? Check out the pros and cons to help make your decision.

Pros of Insulated Concrete Forms

Strengthens and Reinforces Walls: one of the biggest benefits of insulated concrete forms is a stronger, reinforced wall. The concrete dries around the ICFs, and in turn, reinforces the surrounding wall. Different from standard cement fixtures, ICFs have gaps between the walls which increases the durability and strength of the structure.

Saves Energy: due to the insulative properties of ICFs, you’ll likely notice a cost reduction when it comes to heating and cooling the space. ICFs are designed to hold heat in winter and release heat in summer. It’s estimated that they can cut down energy costs by 20 percent. 

Acts as a Sound Barrier and Regulates Temperature: not only will ICFs act as a sound barrier from outside noises, but they also drastically reduce the temperature fluctuations inside the building, effectively removing cold spots from developing. Walls that use ICFs are said to allow just an eighth of the amount of sound to penetrate compared to traditional walls.

Material Cost Savings: when utilizing ICFs during the construction phase, you would be able to effectively set foundations and walls with 10 percent less concrete. This can amount to considerable material and cost savings.

Cons of Insulated Concrete Forms

Not as Effective in Cold Temperatures: one knock on ICFs is that they are not as effective and efficient when used in colder climates. ICFs are built to push heat out of the building so the temperature outside doesn’t impact the concrete during its curing process. When ICFs are utilized in warmer climates, they efficiently transfer the heat outside the home during the day while also providing insulation. By doing this, it helps keep the interior temperature more comfortable during the evening and throughout the night.

Additional Costs: the savings associated with insulated concrete forms are great and pay for themselves many times over as the years pass. That said, there could be higher upfront costs when it comes to installing the materials. Specialized labour is necessary when it comes to properly installing insulated concrete forms, and not every contractor has the ability to do this.

Contact the Pros

Now that you are more familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of using concrete insulation, you can make a more educated decision when planning your future renovation and construction projects.

For more information on Insulated Concrete Forms, reach out to the professionals at Trihill Ltd.

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