Over the past decade, a growing trend in the construction industry has been the demand for durable, energy-efficient concrete homes built using the advanced system of pre-assembled, interlocking insulated concrete forms (ICFs). Popular for their solidity and durability, ICFs also are often chosen by homeowners because of their high design flexibility.
In fact, the design flexibility of ICFs is beginning to be recognized by architects who can create unique footprints, angles, curves, and arches at a competitive cost to traditional wood-framed construction, giving them unlimited freedom when it comes to satisfying their clients’ needs of pairing functionality and beauty.
WHAT GIVES ICFS UNIQUE DESIGN FLEXIBILITY?
“Today, almost any house plan can be adapted to ICF construction. Comprised of two layers of insulating EPS enclosing cast-in-place concrete, ICF systems can be molded into a multitude of shapes. The form is adaptable: slopes, curves or other options you create can be incorporated into the design, which means aesthetic appeal doesn’t have to be sacrificed to achieve energy efficiency,” explains Keven Rector of Nudura, one of the leaders in this innovative technology.
“A house built with ICFs may look similar to a house built with traditional materials since they can be styled with any traditional finish such as wood and vinyl siding, natural stone and brick or take on a different more modern look,” Rector adds.
There are many advantages of using ICFs: they are energy-saving, dampen outside noises, and are fire resistant for up to 4 hours. Additionally, because EPS and concrete do not contain materials that promote organic growth, ICFs are resistant to mold and mildew growth and the resulting degradation that often occurs in wood frame structures. Independent third-party tests have verified EPS insulation used in ICF construction will not support mold growth (Moisture and ICFs: The Facts).
But apart from that, ICFs allow for architectural designs in a wide range of styles, and can accommodate angles, curves and a large variation of opening options – just as with timber or conventional CMU construction.
For residential designs, the overall area of the structure is generally increased to make up for the thicker walls, door jambs, and windowsills. In this manner, when designing interior rooms with ICF, architects consider the design to accommodate the wall thickness while maintaining the interior space square footage. The roof size is equally designed to be slightly larger to support bigger dimensions.
Further, because the bearing capacity of an ICF wall can accommodate flooring systems that span long distances, structures built with ICF may feature larger, clear span rooms, unobstructed by posts or other vertical supports. As ICF gives a very sturdy and durable rendering, foundations made from ICF can, therefore, support bigger structures too.
DESIGNING WITH ICFS IN MIND
While it’s not difficult to convert details for a wood frame structure to ICF, designing with ICF in mind also has its advantages. If the architect allows for the product’s factory dimensions to contribute to the design, less waste will be produced on the job site from cutting the EPS blocks, which means less of an environmental impact. Additionally, ICF construction generally uses less materials to accomplish what other construction methods require to achieve the same level of performance and protection. And fewer materials reduce the potential for interaction failures.
For more information about the design flexibility, durability and other benefits of ICF homes, visit www.nudura.com.