Insulated Concrete Forms - The Good and The Bad
What is an insulated concrete form? ICF blocks are basically eps foam lego blocks that stack together to form an insulated cavity into which concrete is poured for the foundation or even the walls of your building. These blocks are used in place of standard wood concrete forms. The difference is that the wood forms are stripped away on a conventional foundation and you are left with just concrete. The eps foam is left in place and creates a super insulated structure on which to build your new home.
When building in cold climates like North Idaho, ICF foundations can be a great way to help create a super efficient building envelope, but there are pros and cons to the product.
PRO - No thermal breaks. The continuous layers of foam create a building envelope without the thermal breaks that a traditional foundation might create. A traditional foundation typically does not come with insulation on the exterior of the concrete, so the concrete becomes cold in winter and radiates cold into the home through the lumber and framing on the inside of the foundation.
PRO - No need for basement framing or insulation on the foundation walls. Drywall can be fastened directly to the ICF blocks once your electrical and plumbing is in.
PRO - Superior air tightness. The continuous foam on the interior and exterior of the concrete creates a great air barrier as long as you are careful to seal around any penetrations like venting, doors, and windows.
CON - Cost. The cost of an ICF foundation is approximately 20% more than the cost of a traditional concrete foundation, but you will also save some money when it comes to basement framing and insulation to help with that extra cost.
CON - There is a chance that you'll have problems with the concrete that you will never know about. When a traditional foundation is stripped, you can examine the concrete and repair any areas that need attention before moving forward. With ICF, you never get a chance to see if there were trouble spots incurred in the concrete itself.
CON - Waterproofing your ICF foundation will take extra care. Special waterproofing products must be used that do not eat away at the EPS foam. You also need to be careful during backfill so that the granular does not cause damage to the waterproofing as the foam behind it is not indestructible.
Whether you're building waterfront at Priest Lake or on the golf course by Couer d'Alene, ICF foundations should definitely be a part of the conversation with your builder if you're looking for a comfortable, efficient, healthy new home.
Connect with us today if you're looking for a builder who specializes in advanced construction techniques designed to give you a home that is guaranteed to be 40% more energy efficient that the average new home.