Image

ICF Bracing

  • Image

    http://www.builderonline.com/Images/tmp2050%2Etmp_tcm138-1039633.jpg?width=1112

    true

    1112

    Image

    Harry Whitver

    1. Staging

    Use professional, ICF-specific wall-alignment systems and stage them inside or outside of the ICF wall locations at all corners (one each side) and in 4- to 7-foot intervals along the length of each windowless wall. For walls with openings, place a brace on either side of each opening. Secure a cleat for each brace, either into the slab or floor deck or into a walkboard on the ground.
  • http://www.builderonline.com/Images/tmp2052%2Etmp_tcm138-1039639.jpg?width=1108

    true

    1108

    Image

    Harry Whitver

    2. Setting

    Set your ICF walls to the desired height, then set your bracing beginning at the corners. Use the braces to bring the walls to plumb. End walls should be braced on both sides (inside and out), and top to bottom, near the end. Attach bracing to the walls using strong, coarse-threaded screws, where indicated on the braces.
  • http://www.builderonline.com/Images/tmp2053%2Etmp_tcm138-1039643.jpg?width=1112

    true

    1112

    Image

    Harry Whitver

    3. Pouring

    Run a string line across the top of each wall to keep walls in check. Install an elevated walkboard along the entire perimeter for an efficient and safe pour. Use the proper slump (not too high) and make sure to fill voids and cavities. If needed, adjust braces to maintain plumb and avoid bowing or blowouts. Pour the entire house (by floor) on the same day. Remove braces within 48 hours.
  • http://www.builderonline.com/Images/tmp2054%2Etmp_tcm138-1039647.jpg?width=1112

    true

    1112

    Image

    Harry Whitver

    4. Below Grade

    Braces for below-grade ICF walls are commonly placed along the inside face of the walls, but be sure to excavate at least 4 feet away from the perimeter for bracing end walls and to enable a safe work area. Stage bracing at 4- to 6-foot intervals along each windowless wall and follow above-grade staging for other conditions (around openings, at end walls, etc.).

Though stunted by the current housing economy, the use of insulated concrete forms (ICFs) remains a viable and attractive option for builders seeking to boost the strength and insulating quality of their basement and first-floor walls.

Builders seeking green building certification often gain additional credits for ICFs, thanks to their inherent thermal and air-sealing qualities. They also can save time on the construction schedule, as ICFs typically go up faster than conventional block walls.

But while their Lego-like interlocking design and lightweight poly-foam construction enables a fast assembly on site, those qualities also make ICFs vulnerable to bows, bends, and blowouts once the concrete starts to flow—especially on tall, above-grade walls.

ICF experts have learned that proper bracing is essential to keeping the walls plumb and avoiding costly (if not easily remedied) mistakes during the pour. Consider these tips the next (or first) time you use ICFs.