The Basics of Insulating Concrete Form Construction Technology

Insulating Concrete Forms, also known as ICF construction, is a concrete building system that offers superior strength, energy efficiency, durability and comfort compared to traditional construction methods. Although it has been predominantly used in the residential market during the past decade, commercial applications are rapidly increasing.

There are several other concrete home building systems, including masonry, reusable forms and pre-cast products. This article focuses on ICF technology and not on any specific manufacturer in the ICF industry.

ICF construction technology is not smoke and mirrors. It is a very proven product in a new package. Simply put, it is a reinforced concrete wall identical to the ones that have been designed for years as basements, foundations and retaining walls. The advantage is that the forming system is very lightweight, has high insulation properties and does not require removal. The finished wall generally incorporates integral attachment points for interior and exterior finishes.

With an ICF wall, the forms are stacked, the walls are braced and aligned and the concrete is placed in the stay-in-place form. The wall is simply a monolithic concrete core (just like any other concrete wall), with two continuous insulation layers. The faces (AKA flange) of the ties function as the furring strips for attaching interior and exterior finishes.