An ICF home, like one built with Fox Blocks, provides many of the essential features that today’s homeowner is looking for: excellent indoor environmental quality (IEQ), energy-efficiency, and disaster-resistance. Specifically, ICF homeowners can expect the following benefits over a wood-frame home: 20 percent or more energy savings10-30 percent less outside air infiltration, 4-hour fire ratingtwice the strength, and three times quieter.

Building an ICF home saves energy, money, and improves the safety and comfort of its occupants. Additional advantages of building a Fox Block ICF home include easy and low-risk construction, and pest- and moisture-resistance.

Reduce Building Steps with an ICF Wall System

Because Fox Block is an all-in-one wall assembly, building a Fox Block ICF home is fast and low-risk. The Fox Block Wall System combines five construction steps into one, including structure, insulation, air barrier, vapor retarder, and attachment. This feature greatly accelerates project delivery by eliminating the need to coordinate multiple trades, while achieving all of the wall system’s objectives.

By following a few basic steps, a trained professional can efficiently and safely construct a home with Fox Block ICF.

10 Steps For Building an ICF Home

Step 1. Excavation and site preparation.

Step 2. Form the footings and reinforce per engineer’s instructions.

Step 3. Place the concrete footing forms. Finish concrete to make a level surface for stacking the ICF blocks.

Step 4. Stack the Fox Block forms – blocks.

The Fox Block Series blocks include two pieces of 1.5 pcf density modified two ⅝ inches expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam panels. The panels are locked six to eight inches apart with molded plastic ties made of polypropylene (PP) regrind resin. The first row of the ICF wall stacks directly on the footing.

1. First, place the Fox Blocks Series – corner block on each corner of the structure.

2. Next, lay the Fox Blocks Series – straight blocks towards the center of each wall segment.

3. Use HV Clips on the corners webs to connect the blocks and pull them snugly together.

4. Place horizontal rebar in the clips at the top of the internal webs within the block cavity. The clips securely hold the rebar and eliminate the need for wire tying. Repeat step 4 for each course of blocks.

5. When installing the second course of the block, reverse the corner blocks. Reversing the second course corner blocks offsets these blocks from the first row in a running bond pattern.

6. At this point, use a transit level to check that the wall is level and that the footings have not dropped. If the wall is not level, place shims or trim the block as required. Also, check the wall for correct length and height.

7. Install Fox Bucks in the door and window openings. The Bucks stay in place permanently and are used to hold back the concrete, provide attachment and insulation between the concrete and window/door frames. All kinds of doors and windows are attachable to the Fox Bucks.

8. Install the additional courses of blocks by continuing to overlap the courses so that all joints are locked by both above and below by interlocking blocks.

9. Stack the block to the full wall height for single story construction or just above floor height for multi-story construction.

Step 5: Install vertical alignment bracing around the entire structure to secure the walls.  The bracing keeps the walls straight and plumb. The bracing also allows for alignment adjustment before and during the concrete pour. In addition, the bracing serves the additional purpose of providing a secure and safe framework to support scaffolding planks.   

Step 6: It is critical to inspect all the reinforcement, strapping, and bracing before placing concrete into the Fox Blocks.

Step 7: Place the concrete into the walls using a boom or line pump. Placing the concrete in lifts at about four feet at a time. Continue to place the concrete until the top of the wall is reached. It is necessary to have an experienced concrete person on site for  this step, proper placement and consolidation are needed to ensure the highest quality and integrity of the wall.

 – Improper concrete placement can cause a blowout. A blowout results in a delay and cleanup.  

 – Sufficient vibration while placing the concrete is crucial for preventing the formation of air pockets and voids. Air pockets and voids can lessen the strength of a home, along with the home’s resistance to moisture, air, and insect intrusion.

Step 8: Use a mechanical vibrator to internally vibrate the concrete and remove all air pockets within the wall.

Step 9: Level off the concrete until it is even with the block top, then wet set anchor bolts into the concrete block top. The anchor bolts are used later to install the top plate, mud sill, for the installation of rafters or trusses.

Step 10: Remove the bracing and clean bracing.

How Fox Blocks Can Help

Building an ICF home requires qualified professionals that understand the complexities and challenges of constructing an ICF home. A properly built ICF home has a tight building envelope and strong structural integrity.

Let a Fox Blocks professional help answer your technical questions, connect you with a distributor or review your ICF home plans for cost estimating.

Concrete masonry units (CMU) and insulated concrete form (ICF) walls have several features in common: energy-efficiency, durability, and good indoor environmental quality (IEQ). However, ICF is quicker and easier to install compared to CMU, which saves time and money.

CMU and ICF are mass wall systems used in energy-efficient commercial and residential construction. Mass walls provide energy efficiency through mass, rather than insulative values. The mass of the wall system stores energy during the day and releases it throughout the night, which makes mass walls, like CMU and ICF, an excellent choice in hot and humid conditions.

Both CMU and ICF wall systems strive to create durable structures that are resistant to wind, moisture, fire, rot, and mold. CMU and ICF wall systems also aim for suburb indoor environmental quality (IEQ). IEQ includes the air quality, lighting, thermal conditions, and ergonomics inside a building. Excellent IEQ protects human health, improves quality of life, and reduces stress and potential injuries.

The Simple Advantage of ICF over CMU Construction

There is one significant difference between ICF and CMU construction. Building with insulated concrete forms, like the Fox Blocks, is faster and simpler than CMU construction. Therefore, ICF wall systems save money, reduce labor, and lessen construction risks over CMU wall systems and include interior and exterior continuous insulation and 8” on center full height furring for drywall and exterior finish attachment..

What is Concrete Masonry Units (CMU) Construction?

The first use of the modern-day concrete block was in 1830. However, in the United States, it was not commonly used until the first half of the 20th century. Three situations promoted the increase in CMU construction: the 1904 St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis World’s Fair) that advocated concrete block construction, the development of concrete block machinery, and the formation of a domestic Portland cement industry. Over the decades, the basic design of CMU has not changed. CMU is concrete block made from Portland cement, aggregates like stone and quartz, and water. The blocks come in an assortment of shapes and are hollow or solid, with two or three cores or voids.

Advantages of CMU Construction

There are several advantages of CMU construction, including:

 – CMUs are resistant to moisture, rot, and mold and are durable.

 – CMUs are fireproof and can act as a firewall between rooms or structures.  

 – CMUs are pest-resistant.

 – CMUs are a good sound-proofing material.

 – Insulated CMUs provide an R-value compliant with climate zones 1-5, according to the ASHRAE 90.1, which reduces energy use, saves money, and is good for the environment. Concrete block walls have R-values ranging from 2 to 3, and insulated CMUs have R-values ranging from 4 to 14, depending on the block density and thickness.

Disadvantages of CMU Construction

Despite its advantages, CMU construction has some drawbacks, as well. Unfortunately, the design of CMU has not kept up with the increase in demands on wall systems. For the past 50 years, architects and builders have aimed to improve the durability, energy-efficiency, and fire and wind resilience of wall systems. Modern wall systems must also give the occupants a high level of IEQ.

Instead of improving the specific design of CMUs to accommodate these demands, builders and designers opted to add new components, extra layers, and more steps to CMU construction. These steps have complicated the building process and result in more time and money, and a greater chance for errors during the constructing of a CMU wall assembly.

CMU appearance is another problem. CMUs have an industrial look unless a facing, like stucco, is applied over them.

What is Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) Construction?

Insulated concrete forms were first developed in Belgium in 1937 by Swiss nationals August Schnell and Alsex Bosshard. The initial purpose of ICFs was to produce a fast, cost-effective, and solid construction method using mainly unskilled labor. Registration of the first modern patent application ICF, however, didn’t occur until the late 1960s.

Today’s ICFs are cast-in-place concrete walls, inserted between two layers of insulation. The R-values for ICF construction vary with the kind of ICF and thickness of the foam. Fox Blocks exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements and are an example of an excellent energy-efficient ICF product.

Insulated concrete form walls are constructed by dry-stacking expanded polystyrene foam panels or interlocking hollow extruded polystyrene foam to a wall’s length. The forms are reinforced and braced. Then concrete is placed into the EPS forms.

The Advantages of ICF over CMU Construction

The goals of both ICF and CMU wall systems are to produce durable, energy-efficient, storm- and fire-resilient wall assemblies. The two wall assemblies also aim to create a comfortable and healthy environment for the occupants of the building or home.

However, similarities between ICU and CMU part ways in the ease and efficiency of the two building methods. Insulated concrete form takes half the time to build over concrete masonry unit walls. There are a few reasons why CMU walls take longer to construct than ICF walls.

1. CMU walls require the placement of mortar between all horizontal and vertical joints and then need to be finished.  ICF walls are put together like a lego.  No mortar, extra tools needed.

2. Sizing and handling, 1 ICF block is equal to 6 CMU blocks at a fraction of the weight.

3. Unlike ICF walls, a CMU wall needs an application of insulation. Applying insulation over the concrete masonry wall involves a second trade to the project site. The second trade adds one more day of costly labor to the wall construction project.

4. A concrete masonry wall often requires the installation of an air and moisture barrier, which adds another trade and more labor to the wall construction project.

In the video below, a team of 9 first time ICF installers puts up more wall than established masonry crew averaging over 20 guys on this 100,000 sq ft school. That’s a 50% reduction in man hours ICF VS CMU.

The Fox Block Series Insulated Concrete Forms

The Fox Block Series concrete form wall system includes two pieces of 1.5 pcf density modified two ⅝ inches expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam panels. The panels are locked six to eight inches apart with molded plastic ties made of polypropylene (PP) regrind resin.

Utilizing the Fox Block Series creates an energy-efficient, moisture-,disaster-, and pest-resistant wall system. Fox Blocks also ensure excellent indoor environmental quality in the following ways:

 – The Fox Block wall system includes a vapor retarder which ensures a moisture-resistant wall.

 – Fox Blocks, with steel reinforced concrete, are disaster-resistant and can withstand tornado and hurricane winds of over 200 MPH and projectile debris traveling over 100 MPH.

 – Fox Blocks are durable and resistant to termites and rot.

 – Fox Blocks create a quiet and healthy environment for the occupants of the building.

Importantly, the Fox Block Series is quick and easy to install, compared to CMU construction, which saves builders time and money. The Fox Block is an all in one wall assembly.

Select Fox Blocks ICF Over the CMU Alternative

Fox Block Wall systems combine five construction steps into one, including structure, insulation, air barrier, vapor retarder, and attachment. This feature significantly accelerates project delivery by eliminating the need to coordinate multiple trades, while achieving all of the wall systems objectives.

Building a pool with insulated concrete forms (ICFs), like the Fox Block Series, offers consumers, builders, and architects numerous benefits over other pool construction methods, like shotcrete, precast, and cast-in-place concrete. Insulated concrete form pools are energy-efficient, durable, and low-maintenance, which are essential features for today’s environmentally conscious and busy consumer.

Builders appreciate ICF pool construction because it is faster and easier than concrete pool construction, which saves time and money. Designers and architects enjoy the design flexibility of ICF pool construction. ICF is a viable construction method for above- or below-ground pools, community pools, as part of a custom home, for small-exercise pools, and more.

For consumers, builders, and architects concerned about saving energy, time and money, ICF pools, like ones built with the Fox Block Series, are an excellent choice. ICF pools are also durable, low-maintenance, and offer design flexibility.

Advantages of Insulated Concrete Form Pools

1. ICF Pools are Energy-Efficient

According to ICF magazine, a pool loses about 80 percent of its heat through its bottom and sides because the ground conducts heat more easily than the surface air. Pools built with ICF have continuous insulation on the interior and exterior sides and bottom of the pool. The ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2013 defines continuous insulation as insulation that is uncompressed and continuous across all structural members without thermal bridges other than fasteners and service openings.

Continuous insulation reduces heat loss and helps to stabilize the pool’s temperature. ICF pools reduce energy costs over concrete pools by up to 60 percent. Also, because ICF stabilizes a pool’s temperature, the length of a pool season may be increased over that of concrete or fiberglass pools.

2. ICF Pools are Simple to Construct

Building an ICF pool requires less time and labor than constructing a concrete pool for a few reasons:

 – The ICF lightweight modular panels are easy to handle.

 – For ICF pools, no heavy equipment is required for delivery, lifting, or cutting.

 – Unlike concrete pool wall systems, ICF walls don’t require precise excavations. If excavation of an ICF pool is over-dug, the only additional cost is to backfill the walls once they are in place.

3. ICF have Increased Longevity and Durability

The strength and integrity of a durable ICF pool make it disaster-resistant. ICF pools are also mold-resistant. Consequently, ICF pools have longer lifespans and lower maintenance than pools construction by other methods.

4. The Design Versatility of ICF Pools

With ICF pools, fancy pool designs that feature curved walls are simpler to lay out and are more uniform than other methods of pool construction. The design flexibility of ICF pools allows economical choices that include curves, arches, and many other design and shape options.

5. ICF Pools have Smooth, Consistent Wall Finishes

ICF has more consistent wall finishes than standard concrete pools. Pool liners or plaster finishes are used to complete the inside of an ICF pool. A pool liner is installed over the pool plaster and lasts typically up to 10 years.

Installation of a plaster finish is in one or two applications, directly onto the ICF foam inside the pool and is approximately ½-inch in thickness. Pool plaster finishes over ICF are very smooth and 100 percent waterproof.

Building an ICF Pool

Regardless of the pool design, it is possible to build an economical ICF pool, including one with the Fox Blocks Series. Building an ICF pool involves the following basic steps:

Step 1: The first step to building an ICF pool is excavation.

Step 2: Next, the footings are formed and reinforced per engineer’s instructions.

Step 3: The concrete is then placed in the footing forms and finished to make a level surface for stacking the ICF blocks.

Step 4: Then, steel reinforcement and bracing are added vertically according to the engineer’s specifications to the footings.

Step 5: The next step is to stack of the ICF walls.

Step 6: The pool bottom starts with smooth, compacting fill, such as sand. An under slab moisture barrier and adequate insulation, a rigid sheet foam, barrier that combine waterproofing and insulation in a single product, is placed on the fill.  

Step 7: Next, install reinforcement and bracing into the floor according to the engineer’s specifications.

Step 8: Before placing concrete, make sure all the reinforcement, strapping, and bracing are in place. Also, cover lights and drains to prevent concrete from entering the openings.

Step 9: The last step is for concrete to be placed into the Fox Blocks to complete the structural shell.  

Choose Fox Blocks for Your ICF Pool

Insulated concrete form pools, like ones built with the Fox Block Series, are energy-efficient, durable, low-maintenance, and easily adaptable to most swimming pool designs. ICF pools are also fast and easy to construct, which saves time and money.

Please visit Fox Blocks for more information on building a pool with insulated concrete forms.

Why Build a Basement Wall With Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) Blocks?

Building a basement with ICF walls, like Fox Blocks, provides superb durability, integrity, and insulation for a below-grade wall. ICF basement walls minimize thermal bridging and reduce heat loss through the foundation.

The thermal mass and moisture resistance of ICF also creates a comfortable and healthy indoor environmental quality (IEQ). In addition, ICF is resistant to many natural disasters, including fires. ICF basements are of tremendous benefit to builders, particularly ones built with Fox Blocks, because they are simple and fast to construct, which saves both time and money.

Benefits of Building Your Basement with ICF Blocks

1. Climate Comfort

The insulation qualities of ICF basement walls keep a home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Insulated concrete forms have high thermal mass, provide a continuous air barrier, and have a high R-value that keeps a basement comfortable and cozy. 

2. Moisture Resistance

With a basement waterproofing membrane and a reliable drainage system, ICF basement walls significantly reduce the possibility of moisture intrusion. Moisture control is crucial for basements because of the potential of mold and rot. Mold is an issue because it produces irritants and allergens. Touching or inhaling mold or mold spores can cause allergic reactions.

3. Financial Savings

ICF basement walls dramatically reduce energy use, which saves homeowners money on monthly heating and cooling bills and use smaller downsized HVAC equipment reducing new construction costs.

4. Disaster Resistance

ICF basement walls have the structural integrity to protect the home and occupants from tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events.

5. Lower Insurance Premiums

Because of the integrity of ICF, homeowners with ICF basement construction may have lower insurance premiums.

6. Increased Durability

ICF basement construction resists rot and insect infestation. Importantly, ICF’s resistance to degradation minimizes the need for maintenance and repair of a home, which further saves homeowners money.

7. Reduced Noise

ICF basement walls create a quiet space perfect for a media room or home office because of high STC ratings.  A reason many movie theatres are now built out of Fox Blocks.

8. ICF Walls Save Space

ICF basement walls conserve room area, compared to installing insulation on the interior of a wall system. 2 ⅝” vs 4” wood or steel stud with non-continuous insulation.

9. Healthier Environment

ICF walls don’t contain formaldehyde or other volatile organic compounds (VOC) that could affect indoor air quality. VOCs compromise indoor air quality

10. ICF Basement Cost

A basement built with ICF walls are the same cost or less than a comparable insulated concrete or block basement wall. 

Utilizing Fox Blocks for Basement Construction

The Fox Block Series is an ICF wall system that performs well on both above and below grade walls. The Fox Block Series comes in a variety of shapes that include two pieces of 1.5 pcf density modified 2 ⅝ inches expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam panels. The panels are locked eight inches apart with molded plastic ties made of polypropylene (PP) regrind resin.

Utilizing Fox Block Series, along with a waterproofing product, for basement wall construction creates a below-grade insulated concrete wall that is energy-efficient, moisture, disaster. 

Advantages of Using Fox Blocks

 – Fox Blocks are energy-efficient and exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements, which greatly reduces energy use and saves money.

 – The Fox Block wall system includes a vapor retarder which contributes towards a moisture-resistant basement wall. For below-grade walls, the Fox Block system requires a waterproofing membrane and a reliable drainage system to ensure moisture-resistance.

 – Fox Blocks, with steel reinforced concrete, are disaster-resistant and can withstand tornado and hurricane winds of over 200 MPH, and projectile debris traveling over 100 MPH.

 – Fox Blocks are durable and resistant rot and mold.

 – Fox Blocks create a quiet and healthy environment for the occupants of the basement.

Importantly, the Fox Block Series is quick and easy to install, which saves builders time and money. The Fox Block is an all-in-one wall assembly. It combines five construction steps into one, including structure, insulation, air barrier, vapor retarder, and attachment. This feature significantly accelerates project delivery by eliminating the need to coordinate multiple trades, while achieving all of the wall system’s objectives.

Constructing a Fox Block basement wall involves stacking and interlocking the blocks together, end to end. Clips and rebar secure the blocks in place, then the blocks are filled with concrete. The Fox Block Series for basement wall construction is a fast, simple wall system that creates a below-grade insulated concrete basement wall.

Contact a Fox Blocks Professional

Fox Block Series ICFs perform well on both above- and below-grade walls. Before you start construction on your basement contact a Fox Blocks sales representative to answer all your technical questions.

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