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What Is ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms)?

How long has ICF been around?

ICF construction has been around since shortly after World War 2. The technique was developed in Europe as an inexpensive and hardy way to rebuild after the destruction of so many structures. The first patents came from the Swiss, who used recycled waste wood, inside the cement, as the insulating material in the early 1940s. Then the advent of modern foam plastics in the 1960’s changed everything. Canadian contractor Werner Gregori created the first patent for a foam concrete form in 1966. ICF construction and design improvement has gradually increased since the 1970s but only in the ‘90s did the idea really catch on in North America. As word is getting out of the benefits of building with ICF, more and more are choosing to build with it.

The benefits of building with ICF:

  • Undeniable strength
  • Quick to install – frame, insulate, and vapour barrier all in one step
  • Soundproofing
  • Increased fire safety
  • Improved air quality

ICF has proven to be successful in every climate and region and is approved by every major code agency in Canada and the U.S.

Energy Efficient

The insulation is built into the structure, creating a more energy efficient home that requires 30-50% less energy to heat or cool.

Solid & Silent

With a full-concrete structure, ICF keeps the outside, outside– whether that’s cold winter nights or muting the howling, southern Alberta wind. ICF keeps you safe and (no) sound.

Fire Safe

Walls constructed with Superform have a 3-hour rating, with the 6-3/4″ block and a 4-hour rating with the 8″ block. A standard 2″ x 6″ framed wall has virtually no fire-rating at all.

The ICF Building Process

Insulated concrete forms (ICF) are polystyrene foam blocks that interlink together, much like building with Lego. Just like the famous, colourful building blocks, ICF are dry stacked (linked without mortar) in whatever shape you can dream up, whether that’s a modest house or a sprawling warehouse.

The cavities of the forms are then filled with concrete, creating a solid, durable wall. As the forms are being stacked, rebar (strong steel reinforcement) is carefully placed inside the cavities, to help strengthen the concrete that is poured inside. As the concrete is poured into the forms, it is vibrated to help prevent any faults or fissures (voids) in the material.

The blocks are allowed to sit in place which act as insulation on both the inside and outside of the concrete wall. Because the concrete is left to cure in this very moist environment, it is evidently much stronger than traditional concrete forms. With the strength of steel and concrete, walls constructed with ICF are built to last, built to stand up to the harshest of climates and elements.

Still Not Sure If ICF Is Right For You?

Learn about the benefits of ICF