The Importance of Tornado-Resistant Home Design

Tornado-resistant construction is critical in the United States where an average of 1253 costly and deadly tornadoes occur annually. In 2017 alone, tornado outbreaks cost billions of dollars and resulted in 34 fatalities. One of the deadliest tornadoes in 2017 happened in southern Georgia and killed 11 people. Building a tornado-resistant house with Fox Blocks can protect a home and family from disastrous outcomes during a tornado emergency.

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A proper tornado-resistant design protects a home’s integrity and its occupants. The design must take into account the strength of the entire house, provide a continuous load path, and be impact resistant. FEMA, however, still highly recommends a safe room, or tornado shelter, for maximum safety to a home’s occupants during a tornado emergency.

A Continuous Load Path for a Tornado Proof House

When the severe winds of a tornado try to rip a house apart, a continuous load path is the best defense towards holding the home together. The continuous load path ensures that when a load, including uplift and lateral (horizontal) loads, attacks a home, the load will travel from the roof, wall, and other elements toward the foundation and into the ground.

In addition, the integrity of the walls, roof, and floor are critical to ensuring a strong continuous load path that will hold the home together during a dangerous tornado.

Strong Tornado-Resistant Wall Systems

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Homes built with insulated concrete forms (ICF), like Fox Blocks, maintain their integrity during the high winds of a tornado. Insulating concrete forms can withstand winds of over 200 mph. In fact, a study published by the Portland Cement Association (PCA) found that concrete walls have more structural capacity and stiffness to withstand the in-plane shear forces of high winds than wood or steel framed walls.

Also, the strength of concrete walls produces less lateral twists and damage to the non-structural elements of a house such as the electrical wiring and plumbing. Utilizing Fox Block ICFs for tornado-resistant construction can maintain a home’s integrity during a strong tornado event.  

Impact Resistant Wall Systems

Flying debris is a threat during tornadoes and can damage the exterior of a home and injure its occupants. ICF walls are a best practice for tornado-resistant wall construction. In fact, a study by Texas Tech University found that ICF walls resist damage from flying debris traveling over 100 mph while conventionally framed walls failed to stop the penetration of airborne hazards. Insulated concrete form walls are the best protection from windblown debris to a home and its occupants during a tornado event.  

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An ideal choice for tornado-resistant wall construction is Fox Block ICFs. Fox Blocks contain thermal and structural features within a single, reinforced concrete wall section.

– Homes constructed with Fox Blocks maintain their integrity during intense tornado winds of over 200 mph.

– Fox Blocks resist projectile debris traveling over 100 mph.

– Fox Blocks also meet the thermal performance requirements of the IRC and IBC and exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements.

The Fox Block Wall System has the strength to resist the heavy winds and flying debris of the most powerful tornadoes. Fox Blocks ICF is an excellent material choice when building a tornado-resistant house.

Durable, Tornado-Resistant Roof Construction

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Building failures during tornado events often start with damage to the roof. First, the wind blows the shingles from the roof sheathing. Then, the roof sheathing rips from the roof framing. Finally, the roof framing pulls from the supporting walls.

A tornado-resistant roof’s primary function in a continuous load path is as a horizontal diaphragm that moves the loads imposed by heavy winds to the supporting walls below.  The roof sheathing is the first structural element in the load path between the roof system and the foundation. The sheathing works with the roof framing to transfer lateral loads to the home’s shear walls.

Roof framing is the next building element of the load path. Sizing of the rafters of a roof’s frame must resist the weight of the roof system. The roof framing must also move the lateral loads to the shear walls below. It is essential in tornado-resistant roof design that the roof sheathing and framing are built and sized for the potential wind forces of the specific region.

Solid Tornado-Resistant Floor Construction

The floor system is the part of the continuous path that moves the loads to the shear walls in the stories below or the foundation. Floor framing often consists of dimensional lumber, or floor joists, spanning an open space. Floor joists must be sized to withstand the loads of the entire floor system along with vertical loads. The floor of a tornado-resistant home ensures the loads meet their final designation – the ground.

A tornado-resistant design protects a home’s integrity and its occupants. Critical to tornado-resistant home design is a continuous load path, impact resistance, and strong roofs, walls, and floors. A safe room, or tornado shelter, is also highly recommended for the maximum safety of a home’s residents during a tornado emergency.

An ideal product for today’s multi-purpose, energy-efficient, safe, and comfortable garages is Fox Block insulated concrete forms (ICFs).

Today’s Multi-Purpose Garage

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Today’s homeowners consider the garage an extension of their home, serving many purposes other than storing a car. Homeowners want garages designed with organized storage, a workshop, mother-in-law suite, and more. Like their houses, the garage must also include energy-efficient lighting, heating, and cooling features.

Importantly, whether the garage is attached or detached from the house, homeowners want a secure garage that protects their expensive possessions, cars, and equipment from theft, fire, or natural disasters. Modern garages serve as annexes of the home; therefore, today’s garage should be energy-efficient and moisture-, disaster-, and fire-resistant.   

5 Reasons Why Fox Blocks ICF Are Ideal for Garage Construction

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1. ICF Garages are Energy-Efficient

A garage built with ICF foundation and walls is energy-efficient because ICF provides continuous insulation across all structural members of the building’s envelope. Continuous insulation is essential to reducing air infiltration, preventing the flow of heat and energy, stopping thermal bridging, and increasing the effective R-value in a wall system.

ICF is also a high thermal mass material, which helps stabilize temperature shifts within a garage by slowing the rate of heat transfer. ICF wall systems build energy-efficient garages.

2. ICF Garages are Moisture-Resistant

ICFs, like Fox Blocks, provide a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of less than 1.0, which controls moisture intrusion. Moisture control is essential, particularly when the garage is used to store expensive equipment, family photos, etc. Moisture control also prohibits the growth of mold and mildew, which is unhealthy for the occupants of the garage.

The moisture-resistance of ICF construction creates a healthy indoor environment for those working or living in the garage space. The moisture control of ICF construction also protects items stored in the space.  

3. ICF Garages are Disaster-Resistant

ICF garages have stronger structural integrity against tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events than steel- and wood-framed garages. In fact, a report by the Portland Cement Association (PCA) compared the structural load resistance of ICF walls to framed walls. The report concluded that concrete walls have greater structural capacity and stiffness to resist the in-plane shear forces of high wind than wood- and steel-framed walls.

Furthermore, a study by Texas Tech University concluded that ICF walls resist the impact of wind-driven hazards, while framed walls didn’t stop the penetration of airborne debris. ICF construction creates disaster-resistant garages.

4. ICF Garages are Fire-Resistant

Non-toxic fire retardant expanded polystyrene foam and steel-reinforced concrete are used to make ICF, which gives it a high fire rating. A high fire rating means that if a fire starts in the garage, it is better contained and less likely to spread to surrounding property than with a garage made of wood. ICF construction creates a fire-resistant garage.

5. ICFs Easily Adapt to Any Garage Plan

The design flexibility of ICF creates functional and aesthetically pleasing garages with curves, arches, and intricate patterns. Whether the garage is only used to park a car or includes extra living space, ICF can accommodate all garage plans.

ICF garages are also compatible with any finishing or siding products: stone, brick, wood or vinyl siding, plasters or plasterboards, etc., along with other non-structural building components like roofing, flooring, and utilities. ICF construction creates attractive and multifaceted garages.  

An Ideal Product for Today’s Multi-Purpose Garage is Fox Block Insulated Concrete Form

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– Fox Blocks are a high thermal mass product that provides continuous insulation with an R-value of 23. Importantly, Fox Blocks exceeds ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements, and create energy-efficient garages with exceptional energy performance.

– Fox Blocks controls moisture intrusion.  

– Garages constructed with Fox Block insulated concrete forms (ICF) maintain their integrity during intense winds of over 200 mph, and projectile debris traveling over 100 MPH.

– Fox Blocks have a fire-resistance rating (ASTM E119) of two hours for the four-inch blocks and four hours for the six-inch blocks.

– For termite-resistance of an ICF wall system, Fox Blocks recommends an application of a waterproofing and a termite membrane like Polyguard Products, Inc. 650 XTM or 650 XTP membranes. These two products were assessed and approved by SBCCI PST and ES for waterproofing and a termite protection membrane for ICFs.

For homeowners determined to protect their garage and the contents inside it, Fox Block ICF is an excellent material choice. ICFs also create an energy-efficient, disaster and moisture-resistant garage.

Initial costs of ICF may reflect a slight increase to traditional wood-frame construction expenses, but ICF garages are more energy-efficient than wood-frame garages, which saves money over time.

Please contact Fox Blocks for more information on ICF garage construction.

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