What are insulating concrete forms?

When laying concrete, as a builder you will need a framework that is lightweight, dependable and can be used in a variety of situations. Insulating concrete forms, or ICFs, are an ideal method for pouring concrete due to their adaptability, easily availability and affordability. Constructed of rigid thermal insulation units, insulating concrete forms can interlock in a variety of shapes, making them a useful tool for high-rise construction where space is often an immediate and pressing concern. When laying concrete inside of insulating concrete forms, the rebar or reinforced metal is placed inside the ICFs, creating a ready-made cavity for the concrete itself. ICFs can be used to create the following concrete shapes:

  • Screen Grid Systems
  • Post and Lintel Systems
  • “Waffle Grid” Systems
  • Standard Grid Systems

These shapes are elementary to the construction of most concrete based buildings. Specialized ICFs can be purchased to create more custom concrete forms, and can be adjusted according to building design requirements and safety codes. ICFs are also useful for changing existing building plans on the fly, in case of shortages of concrete or last-minute blueprint changes to the building itself. In addition, properly set up ICFs have a number of benefits which contribute to the construction process: Energy efficiency - ICFs help to minimize air leaks and encourage proper insulation by interlocking and creating a full, completed concrete barrier on removal. Reinforced strength - ICFs do not rot when exposed to moisture, meaning ongoing construction attempts are not interrupted by strong weather, rain or winds. Sound protection - Acoustic transmission is very low for ICFs, showing only a coefficient transmission of 72 down to 46 compared to a lowly 36 for drywall or fiberglass. Fireproof qualities- The best ICFs have fire resistance qualities that can last from 4 to 6 hours under continuous heat. ICFs will not catch or spread fire and are not surface-flammable. Air quality- Due to a lack of plastic in construction, the air quality of ICF-built concrete walls is inherently higher quality. Environmental sensitivity- One of the ways to incorporate “green” or renewable construction into a building is to use recycled ICFs, which are just as strong regardless of the recycled materials used. Overall, insulating concrete forms are a highly versatile and useful construction tool, capable of providing complex functions for builders on the go.

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