The goal of soundproofing exterior walls is to limit noise pollution or unwanted sounds. Lessening noise is vital to the comfort, health, and communication of the occupants of a home or building. An excellent product for soundproofing exterior walls is Fox Block insulated concrete forms (ICFs). Fox Blocks ICFs reduce sound transmission more effectively than either wood or concrete masonry unit (CMU) wall construction.

Why Soundproofing Exterior Walls is Important

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Noise Pollution is on the Rise

The need to incorporate soundproofing features in the exterior walls of today’s homes and buildings has increased in recent decades. Urbanization, population growth, and an increase in air, rail, and highway traffic all have contributed to a widespread escalation of noise pollution. In fact, in 1991, it was estimated that environmental noise increased by 10 percent in the decade of the 1980’s. Noise reducing exterior walls are essential to preventing unwanted and disturbing outside noise from reaching the interior of a home or building.

The Adverse Health Effects of Noise Pollution

Soundproofing the exterior walls of a home or commercial building is essential for the health and well being of the occupants. There are many adverse effects of noise pollution. Noise pollution creates stress and hinders communication. Further negative health effects of noise pollution include hearing loss, sleep disruption, cardiovascular disease, reduced productivity, and impaired teaching and learning. Soundproofing exterior walls is essential for protecting the occupants of a home or building from loud and distracting sounds.

Soundproofing Exterior Walls with Insulated Concrete Forms

Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) for exterior walls are known for their energy-efficient and disaster-resistant qualities; however, ICFs also have excellent noise reducing traits.

The foam insulation absorbs sound, and the concrete in ICFs reflects noise.

Notably, the EPS Industry Alliance (a voice for the ICF industry), reports that only about one-quarter to one-eighth as much sound penetrates through an ICF wall compared to a wood-frame wall. In addition, a study out of the University of Washington reports that ICF can reduce sound transmission 200 percent better than concrete masonry unit (CMU) walls. ICF exterior walls are a superb product for preventing noise pollution from disrupting the interior of a structure.

Fox Blocks ICFs Build Soundproof Exterior Walls

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Fox Blocks is an ICF wall assembly that significantly lessens the transfer of sound from the outside to the inside of a building. Fox Blocks have a Sound Transmission Class (STC)  rating of STC 45-50+, which meets and exceed acoustic standards required in most commercial, government and educational building construction.

For instance, the ANSI S12.60 “Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements and Guidelines for Schools” mandates that exterior and interior walls of offices, conference rooms, and main corridors in schools achieve a minimum STC of 45 and that classroom walls obtain a minimum STC of 50. Fox Blocks walls ensure a quiet and peaceful interior for a home, hospital, school or any indoor space.

More Advantages of Fox Block ICF Exterior Walls

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Along with Fox Blocks noise reducing qualities, Fox Blocks have many components today’s builders, and architects strive to include in the design of their new homes and buildings. Fox Blocks create disaster-resistant and energy-efficient homes and buildings.

Fox Blocks ICF are Fire-Resistant

Fox Blocks have a fire-resistance rating (ASTM E119) of 4 hours for the 6-inch blocks and 2 hours for the 4-inch blocks.

Fox Blocks Protect Against Strong Winds and Flying Debris

ICF wall systems, like Fox Blocks, build a strong continuous path that ensures a building can maintain its integrity against winds above 200 mph. ICF walls also can resist damage debris flying over 100 mph.

Fox Blocks are Energy-Efficient and Moisture-Resistant

Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements, and create an energy-efficient structure with superb moisture resistance and energy performance. They also provide continuous insulation with an R-value of 23+, which create an airtight building envelope with better performance than wood- or steel-frame construction.

Fox Blocks high-thermal mass contributes towards a high-performing building or home by absorbing and storing heat energy. Fox Blocks provide a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of less than 1.0, which controls moisture intrusion and prohibits the growth of mold, mildew, and rot.

Fox Blocks create soundproof exterior walls that contribute to the comfort and communication of a building’s or home’s residents. Decreasing noise pollution inside a building or home also reduces the occupants stress level, and lessens the risk of hearing loss and heart disease. Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms are a best practice for soundproofing exterior walls.

An excellent choice for wind-resistant home design is Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICF). Fox Blocks build wind-resistant walls that protect a house, the valued contents and family from dangerous winds and flying debris during severe wind events.  

Wind-Resistant Home Design is Critical to a Family’s Safety

Wind-Resistant Home with Insulated Concrete Forms 1

A wind-resistant home protects the house and the family from dangerous wind events like hurricanes and tornadoes. During a severe wind event, both a collapsing house and flying debris threaten the lives of the occupants of a home. Tragically, between 2000 and 2017 there were 894 wind and 1417 tornado-related deaths. In 2017, 36 percent of the wind and 63 percent of the tornado-related fatalities happened either in a mobile or permanent home. A wind-resistant design is critical to a home’s integrity and a family’s safety.

Critical Elements of a Wind-Resistant Home

A wind-resistant home should remain standing during and after strong wind events. It should also have the strength to prevent flying debris from penetrating the wall system.

Essential to wind-resistant home design is a continuous load path, impact resistance, and strong roofs, walls, floors, and foundations. In addition, FEMA, highly recommends a safe room1, or tornado shelter, for maximum protection to a home’s occupants during a severe wind event.

A Continuous Load Path is Vital to a Wind-Resistant Home

A continuous load path is a home’s best protection against intense winds. When uplift and lateral (horizontal) loads attack a house, a continuous load path will transfer the loads from the roof, wall, and other parts, toward the foundation and into the ground. A strong continuous load path is key to holding the roof, walls, floor, and foundation together during strong winds of over 200 mph.

Impact Resistance is Crucial to a Wind-Resistant Home

An impact resistant wall system, like one built with ICF, is essential for protecting a structure and its occupants from flying debris during a severe wind event. Notability, ICF walls produce greater resistance to damage from flying debris than wood-framed walls. Homes constructed with ICF walls preserve the house and protect its occupants from flying debris during severe wind events of over 100 mph.   

Fox Block ICFs Create Wind-Resistant Homes

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Homes built with Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICFs ) ensure a wind-resistant house with a strong continuous load path that holds the walls, floors, foundation, and roof together during an intense wind event. Fox Blocks also resist projectile debris traveling over 100 mph.

Fox Blocks Home Stand up to an EF5 Tornado

For example, in 2013, a powerful EF5 tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma proved the strength and integrity of Fox Blocks ICFs. The tragic event wiped out most of Moore’s neighborhoods, and killed 24 and injured 212 people. Left standing, however, was a  ICF home built in 2004. For maximum safety against severe wind events, homeowners, builders, and architects are wise to select Fox Blocks ICF for their next home construction project.

Roof Construction of a Wind-Resistant Home

During dangerous strong-winds, home failures often begin with damage to the roof. A roof’s role, in a continuous load path, is to move the loads imposed by intense winds to the supporting walls underneath. The roof sheathing and framing move lateral loads to the home’s shear walls. For the protection of a home during an intense wind event, the house and sizing of the roof framing and sheathing must be in accordance with the wind forces of the area.

Roof Sheathing

FEMA’s Building Framing Systems and Best Practices authorizes the use of common nails to connect roof sheathing to supporting components in regions where wind speeds are less than 100 mph. In higher-wind regions, FEMA mandates ring-shank nails. Recommended in the corner zones eaves of the roof, where winds can cause massive uplifts, are wood nails.

Roof Framing

After the roof sheathing, the roof framing is the next component found within the load path of a building. The roof framing moves lateral loads to the shear walls. The rafters of a roof’s frame must be sized to withstand the weight of the roof system, and also the loads produced by wind.

Floor Construction of Wind Resistant Homes

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The floor system of the continuous load path moves the loads to the shear walls in the floors below or to the foundation. Floor framing often consists of dimensional lumber, or floor joists, spanning an open area. Floor joists must be sized to withstand the loads of the whole floor system along with vertical loads. The floor of a wind-resistant home ensures the loads reach the foundation and eventually the ground.

A wind-resistant home must include a continuous load path that protects against flying debris and keeps the roof, walls, floors, and foundation attached during a severe wind event. An excellent product for a wind-resistant home is Fox Blocks ICFS. Fox Blocks build wind-resistant walls that protect a house and family from treacherous winds and flying debris. For more information on wind-resistant home design, please visit Fox Blocks.

 

Fire-resistant houses are essential for protecting homes and families against increasing wildfires in the United States. Vital elements of a fire-resistant home design include passive fire protection with fireproof roofs, window, door, vents, and exterior walls, like ones built with Fox Blocks insulated concrete form (ICF) wall systems.  

Why Design a Fire-Resistant Home?

Fire-Resistant Homes with Fox Blocks ICFs 1

Building a fire-resistant house is vital for today’s homeowners that want to protect both their homes, valued contents and families. The increasing focus in fire-resistant home design is highly due to a rise in wildfires and longer wildfire seasons. In 2017, there were 31,017 wildfires in the United States (U.S.). An 8 percent increase over 2016. Many scientists blame the rise in wildfires on climate change, which is causing an increase in global temperatures, drier forests, and earlier snow melts.

Regrettably, according to Verisk’s 2017 Wildfire Risk Analysis, 4.5 million homes in the U.S. are at high or extreme danger of wildfire, a fact that supports the need for fire-resistant components in new homes. An essential element of fire-resistant home construction is passive fire protection. Passive fire protection provides for fire-resistant exterior walls, doors, windows, roofs, and vents.

Passive Fire Protection in Safe Home Design

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Passive fire protection guards a family and protects the house by controlling the spread of fire and smoke. Passive fire protection includes firewalls, smoke barriers, horizontal assemblies, and fire partitions. Passive fire protection is often not visible to the residents; however, it’s vital in saving lives and protecting property when a fire happens. Passive fire protection reduces the spread of fire and smoke through vertical openings and stops the collapse of a house. Passive fire protection can save the family and home in the event of a fire.

Fox Block Wall Systems for a Fire-Resistant Home

A crucial component of passive fire protection of a fire-resistant home is the wall system. A superb choice for passive firewall protection is Fox Blocks ICFs. The 6-inch Fox Blocks have an ASTM E119 fire rating of four hours (twice the two-hour requirement), an ASTM E84 reported values for flame speed of less than 25 and smoke development of less than 450.

Along with excellent fire-resistance, Fox Blocks are disaster-resistant, noise reducing, and energy-efficient with an R-value of 23+. Additionally, because Fox Blocks provide a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of less than 1.0, Fox Blocks control moisture accumulation, which prohibits the growth of mold and mildew.

A best practice for a fire-resistant home includes a fire-resistant wall system, like one built with Fox Blocks ICFs.

The Roof for a Fire-Resistant Home

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The roof of a fire-resistant home must resist catching fire. Roofs are susceptible to fire from burning debris, fireworks, lightning, wildfires, chimney fires, and sparks. Constructing a roof with fire-resistant products is a home’s best defense against a roof fire.

Fire-testing exposure of roof assemblies is in accordance with ASTM E108 or UL 790. The treating of fire-retardant-treated wood roof coverings should also be in accordance with ASTM D2898. The UL 790 has three classes of fire-resistant roofing. A best practice for constructing a fire-resistant home uses Class A roofing.

– Class A roof coverings protect against severe fire test exposures and will not slip from a position or produce flying brands. Examples of Class A roof materials are slate, asphalt glass, concrete tiles, clay tiles, and fiber composition shingles.

– Class B roof coverings protect against moderate fire test exposures to the roof deck, will not slip from a position or produce flying brands. Examples of Class B roof materials are shingles and pressure-treated shakes.

– Class C roof coverings protect against light fire test exposures and will not slip from a position or produce flying brands. Examples of Class C roofing products are particle board, plywood, and untreated wood shakes and shingles.

Windows and Doors for a Fire-Resistant Home

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Fire-resistant glass in the windows and doors is a critical component for a fire-resistant home. Classification of fire-resistant glass in doors and windows is by their integrity and insulation. Integrity is the measure of time the glazing holds the smoke and fire in an area and reduce the spread of the fire. Insulation is how long the glazing material shields the home’s residents from the heat radiating from a fire. Fire-resistant design of a home must consider the windows and doors.  

Vents for a Fire-Resistant Home

Because flames and ashes can enter a home through vents, the design of the vents must resist these intrusions. There are a few methods for protecting vents from flying embers.

– Protect vents in eaves or cornices with baffles to make a barrier between the vents and the embers.

– Cover the vent openings with 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch  metal mesh.

Fire-resistant homes are essential for the integrity of the house and the safety of the homeowners. Critical components of a fire-resistant home include passive fire protection shields and fireproof exterior walls, roofs, window, door, and vents. Please visit Fox Blocks for more suggestions for building a fire-resistant home.

A small (400 to 1000 square feet) or tiny (less than 400 square feet) insulated concrete form (ICF) home is energy-efficient, durable, and healthy. A small ICF house also saves homeowners money and time. A small home generates low monthly bills, takes less time to clean and maintain, and is better for the environment than a more spacious home. A small house built with ICF is energy-efficient, safe, and affordable.   

Many Homeowners Need Smaller, More Affordable Homes

Tiny ICF Home 1

Over the past 40 years, home size and price has increased in the United States (U.S.). Consequently, today’s homeowners pay more to own and maintain their houses than they did in the 1970s. Furthermore, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, in recent years the biggest expense across all income levels is housing (30 percent) followed by food (13 percent), healthcare (9 percent), and energy (9 percent). A big and expensive home takes a large slice out of the budget of many of today’s homeowners.  

Unfortunately, many of today’s homeowners are living in homes that are too big and expensive for their budget. In addition, almost half of today’s households don’t have enough savings to handle a $400 emergency, and 78 percent are living paycheck to paycheck. Many homeowners in large, costly houses risk financial distress, particularly if they lack monetary reserves. An affordable, small home is a solution to many of today’s financially-over-extended homeowners.

A Thoughtfully Designed Small Home Reduces Housing Costs

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A carefully designed small home is comfortable, beautiful, functional and interesting. However, the essential goals of a small home are to reduce a homeowner’s mortgage, utilities, and maintenance expenses. An added benefit of a small house is it simplifies the owner’s life and lowers their stress by ridding them of unnecessary possessions and responsibilities. A thoughtfully designed and built small home is charming, practical and good for the environment.

10 Tips for Designing an ICF Small or Tiny Home

1. A tight building envelope is essential to the design of a small or tiny home.

A tight building envelope minimizes air and moisture infiltration and is crucial to creating an energy-efficient house. Essential design elements of a tight building envelope are continuous insulation and application of an air and moisture barrier. A tight building envelope must also include energy efficient windows, skylights, and doors suitable to the home’s climate zone. Critical to a small, energy-efficient home design is a tight building envelope that minimizes air and moisture infiltration.

2. Durability is critical to the design of a small home.

A sustainable small house design uses durable materials. Durable materials are sustainable because they do not degrade or rot and they are resistant to natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, and fires. Over time, durable products save homeowner’s both money and time in rebuilding, maintaining, and repairing.

3. Fox Blocks ICFs are an ideal product for a small or tiny home.

Tiny ICF Home 3

Fox Blocks create a small home with a tight building envelope that is energy-efficient, moisture-resistant, and durable.

– Fox Blocks are energy-efficient (R-value of 23+) and exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements. Small homes built with ICF exterior walls typically require 44 percent less energy to heat and 32 percent less energy to cool than similar wood-framed houses.

– The high thermal mass of Fox Blocks contributes towards an energy-efficient small home. High thermal mass products absorb and store heat energy and help stabilize temperature shifts within the home by reducing the rate of heat transfer.

– Fox Blocks provide a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall have a perm rating of less than 1.0 that controls moisture intrusion. Moisture accumulation can lead to mold, which degrades a structure’s integrity and is unhealthy to the occupants of the home.

– Fox Blocks are not prone to termite damage because they lack organic material, which termites eat.

– Fox Blocks are disaster-resistant: Fox Blocks is steel reinforced concrete that can withstand severe winds exceeding 200 MPH and projectile debris moving over 100 MPH.

– Fox Blocks are fire-resistant. Fox Blocks have a fire-resistance rating of 4-hours for the 6-inch blocks and 2-hours for the 4-inch blocks (ASTM E119).

4. Proper site orientation of a small home.

Proper site orientation of a small home is essential for taking advantage of the sun’s energy. For instance, the north-south orientation lessens direct sunlight during the summer (which reduces cooling demands) and maximizes sunlight during the winter (which lessons heating demands).

5. The cool roof of a small home.

A cool roof keeps a small home cool by shielding against solar heat gain. Cool roof products include low thermal mass materials like tiles and slate that are reflective or have light colored pigments that throw back the sun’s rays.

6. Renewable energy for a small home.

Tiny ICF Home 4

The design of a small, energy-efficient home should aim to generate as much energy as it uses by installing renewable energy measures, like solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.  Renewable energy sources can significantly reduce, if not eliminate a small or tiny home’s energy bills.

7. Usable outdoor spaces for a small home.

The design of a small home should effortlessly connect the outdoor spaces to the indoors. Outdoor spaces should take advantage of the sun and prevailing winds, which will draw the home’s occupants towards the porches, patios, and decks.

8. Efficient, dual-purpose spaces of a small home.

The design of a small or tiny home should create dual-purpose spaces with fold-out tables, built-in bookshelves, a Murphy bed, and more.

9.  Room planning for a small home.

The design of a small or tiny home should minimize the space of the bedrooms and baths and maximize the areas used during the day. Also, the plan should reduce walls, which take up floor space, with open room design.

10. Ceilings of a small home.

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High ceilings with skylights add volume and light to a small home. In some cases, a loft fits naturally in the extra volume.  

Building an ICF small home creates an energy-efficient home that is durable, healthy, and green. An affordable small ICF home saves homeowners money on building costs, utilities, maintenance, and repairs.

A small ICF home saves homeowners time because it is quicker to clean and maintain than a larger home. New homeowners interested in ridding themselves of unnecessary possessions and responsibilities and saving both money and time should consider downsizing to a small or tiny Fox Block ICF home.

Insulated concrete forms are hollow foam blocks used to construct the exterior walls of a building, which are reinforced with rebar and then filled with concrete. Building with insulated concrete forms is lighter, faster, more resilient and often more cost effective than most other forms of building. This building material is rising in popularity for all forms of residential and commercial building, including hospitals, schools, office buildings and private homes for exactly these reasons. As a contractor, have you considered delving into insulated concrete form (ICF) building construction, but don’t know where to start?

The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) has some upcoming trainings that can help you get started with this new material and technique. The NRMCA is a membership organization for the concrete industry and is a leading industry advocate that provides information and updates to its members about the latest techniques, materials and technologies. This includes professional development courses and trainings.

Professional development is important for any contractor as everyone in the professions needs to stay up to date to keep their crews and worksites safe, efficient and cost effective. The NRMCA is a great resource for trainings on the latest in the concrete industry. Often, these courses also include continuing education credits to count toward receiving professional certifications.

For those interested in ICF construction, including concrete contractors, masonry contractors and wood and steel framers, a coalition within NRMCA called Build with Strength is hosting four ICF contractor training courses across the country to give you an introduction to this growing building material. Attendees can expect an overview of building with ICFs to give them a competitive advantage in today’s construction landscape. The registration fee of each event includes a meal, an ICF training manual, hands-on instruction and a certificate of completion. This particular course also offers four AIA-CES Learning Units and 4 Professional Development Hours (PDH).

ICF Contractor Training Seminars 2

To plan your day, here is a sample itinerary for this half-day training, provided by the NRMCA:

  • 7:30 am: Continental Breakfast
  • 8:00 – 12:00 noon: ICF Contractor Training

Demonstrate the specific characteristics of ICFs

  • Describe the benefits of ICF construction
  • Explain the construction advantages and efficiencies
  • Demonstrate the interaction between trades and ICF installation requirements and techniques
  • Recognize that ICF technology can expand your business opportunities.

The event details are below (click your desired date to be redirected and register with the NRMCA).

November 27, 2018 | Seattle 

December 5, 2018 | Boston

December 6, 2018 | Hartford, CT

January 15, 2019 | Minneapolis

We encourage you to take advantage of these upcoming trainings to begin your knowledge and experience with insulated concrete form construction. This training will increase your competitiveness in the construction market to work with this growing building trend that is lighter, faster, more resilient and more cost effective than other building materials and methods.

ICF Contractor Training Seminars 3

Register online for your local training date and contact the NRMCA for more information on what you can expect and if you have any questions about the training.

Insulated concrete forms (ICF) and structural insulated panels (SIPs) are two common wall systems used to construct commercial buildings and homes. Both wall systems combine structure and insulation into one unit, which quickens construction and reduces labor costs. However, ICF wall systems have several benefits over SIP wall systems.

ICFs, like Fox Blocks, are more energy-efficient and fire-, mold-, and rot-resistant than SIPs. ICFs also have more design flexibility than SIPs. When choosing between SIP and ICF walls, builders and architects should consider the advantages of ICFs, like Fox Blocks, over SIPs wall systems.

What are Structural Insulated Panel Wall Systems?

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) Vs. Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) 1

(photo by https://inhabitat.com)

Structural insulated panels, also called foam-core panels, structural foam panels, stress-skin panels, and sandwich panels, first gained attention 50 years ago for its high level of insulation, air tightness, and strength over wood-framing wall systems. SIPs are 4- and 8-inch thick rigid foam panels, sandwiched between two rigid sheathing materials.

SIP Foam Panels

Extruded polystyrene (EPS), expanded polystyrene (EPS), polyisocyanurate (PIR) polyurethane, or (PUR) are used to make the foam panels for SIPs. With XPS and EPS foam, the foam and sheathing is pressure laminated together. With PIR and PUR, the liquid foam is injected and cured under high pressure.

SIP Sheathing Boards

The most common sheathing boards for SIPS are 7/16 inch thick oriented strand boards (OSB). Other sheathing materials include plywood, sheet metal, fiber-cement siding, magnesium-oxide board, fiberglass mat, gypsum sheathing, and composite structural siding panels.  

SIPs create straight walls that are structurally sound, air-sealed, and insulated all in one step. Also, because SIPs are factory assembled, wall construction is quick, which reduces labor costs and construction waste. Roofs, walls, and floors of homes and light commercial buildings can use SIPs. However, there are several problems associated with SIP wall systems.

Disadvantages of SIP Wall System

– Some SIPs, especially those constructed with plywood, OSB, and composite structural siding panels, do not have adequate fire performance ratings.

– Durability problems with SIPs can occur, particularly when using plywood and OSB facings. When plywood or OSB gets wet, the walls may mold, degrade, and rot.

– SIPs have low thermal mass. Materials made of high thermal mass help to stabilize the temperature within a structure, and ultimately save energy and money.  

– Because SIPs are panels, the design of a SIP structure is best coordinated and planned with the panel’s dimensions, without many jogs, bump-outs, or non-90-degree angles. A non-panel friendly design will escalate cos and waste, and diminish the performance of the structure.

Insulated Concrete Form Wall Systems

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) Vs. Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) 2

Insulated concrete forms (ICFs), like Fox Blocks, are composed of concrete sandwiched between two layers of insulated foam. Above- and below-grade ICF construction creates a disaster-resistant, moisture-resistant, durable, energy-efficient and quiet structure. Also, ICF offers design flexibility and is quick and easy to install.  

The Disaster-Resistant Advantages of Insulated Concrete Foam

ICF Walls are Fire-Resistant. ICF wall construction creates passive fire protection within a building or home by limiting the spread of fire and smoke. If a fire occurs, ICF also hinders the collapse of the structure. Notably, Fox Blocks ICFs have a fire-resistance rating (ASTM E119) of 4 hours for the 6-inch blocks and 2 hours for the 4-inch blocks.

ICF Walls Protect Against Strong Winds and Flying Debris. ICF wall systems, like Fox Blocks, build a strong continuous path that ensures a building can maintain its integrity against winds above 200 mph. Fox Block ICF walls also can resist damage debris flying over 100 mph.

ICFs are Moisture-Resistant

ICF walls, like Fox Blocks, provide a moisture-resistant solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of less than 1.0. The perm rating is a measure of an assembly or a material ability to limit the amount of moisture that passes through the assembly or materials.

The lower the perm rating, the better. Both the 2018 International Building Code (IBC) 1404.2 and the 2018 International Residential Code(IRC) R703.1 do not require an air barrier or a weather- or a water-resistive-barrier on a solid monolithic concrete wall.

ICFs are Healthy and Durable

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) Vs. Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) 3

ICF wall systems are healthy and durable because they are moisture-resistant and non-organic, which limits the growth of mold and wood rot. Mold and wood rot may occur in the presence of moisture or organic materials, like wood. Mold is unhealthy to those inside the building and wood rot can reduce the structural durability of a building.

ICFs Create a Tight-Building Envelope that is Energy-Efficient

– High-thermal mass ICFs contribute towards a high-performing, energy-efficient building or home. High thermal mass materials absorb and store heat energy. ICF walls then stabilize temperature shifts within the structure by slowing the rate of heat transfer.

– Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements, and create sustainable buildings with superb moisture resistance and energy performance.

– Fox Blocks also provide continuous insulation with an R-value of 23, which creates an airtight building envelope with better performance than wood- or steel-frame construction.

ICFs Create Quiet Walls

The EPS Industry Alliance (a voice for the ICF industry) reports that about one-quarter to one-eighth as much sound penetrates through an ICF wall compared to a wood-frame wall. Fox Blocks, for example, have a Sound Transmission Class (STC)1 rating of STC 45-50+ and can create a quiet and peaceful interior for a building.

The Design Flexibility of ICF

The strength and flexibility of ICFs allow builders and architects to create any imaginable size or style of a home or building. The ICF forms are easy to cut and shape, including customized architectural effects, such as cathedral ceilings, curved walls, large openings, long ceiling spans, and custom angles.

ICFs are Quick and Easy to Install

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) Vs. Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) 4

ICFs, like Fox Block Series, is fast and easy to install, which saves time and costs. The Fox Block is an all in one wall system that combines five construction steps into one, including air barrier, structure, insulation, vapor retarder, and attachment. This feature significantly hastens project delivery by eliminating the need to coordinate multiple trades, while accomplishing all of the wall system’s objectives.

Insulated Concrete Form Vs. Structural Insulated Panels Wall Systems

ICF wall systems have several advantages over SIP wall systems.

– ICFs are a high-thermal mass material that is air- and moisture-resistant.

– ICF is more energy-efficient and fire-, mold- and rot-resistant than SIP.

– An additional advantage of ICF over SIP construction is ICF has more design flexibility and can easily accommodate complex architectural curves and contours.

While ICFs create suburb wall systems, they are not suitable for a roof assembly. The pre-insulated, pre-engineered SIPs are ideal for large spans of roofing and will contribute to an energy-efficient and air-tight structure.

Please visit Fox Blocks for more information on insulated concrete foam vs. structural insulated panels.

To protect a building from fire and ensure the safety of its occupants, today’s contractor and architects aim to include fire-resistant components, like Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICF), in their new construction projects. The growing focus in fire-resistant building design is highly due to a rise in wildfires and longer wildfire seasons.

In 2017, there were 31,017 wildfires in the United States; an 8 percent increase over 2016. Many scientists blame the increase in wildfires on increasing global temperatures, early snow melts, and drier forests due to climate change. Protecting a building and its occupants from dangerous fires requires using fire-resistant materials, like Fox Blocks, in new construction projects.

Passive Fire Protection for a Fire-Resistant Building

Fire-Resistant Building 1

Passive fire protection restricts the spread of fire through a structure, which reduces the danger to the occupants and damage to the property. Passive fire protection also protects vital structural components and prevents the collapse of a building. Passive fire protection is often not visible to the occupants; however, when a fire happens, its value in saving lives and protecting property is clear and essential.

Accomplishing passive fire protection is through the use of fire-resistant walls, windows, doors, roofs, and vents.

Fox Blocks Create Fire-Resistant Walls

Fire-Resistant Building 2

A critical element of passive fire protection is the wall system. An excellent option for passive firewall protection is Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICFs). The 6-inch Fox Blocks have an ASTM E119 fire rating of four hours (twice the two-hour requirement), an ASTM E84 reported values for flame speed of less than 25, and smoke development of less than 450.

Along with excellent fire-resistance, Fox Blocks are disaster-resistant, noise reducing, and have high thermal mass with an R-value of 23. Also, because Fox Blocks provide a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of less than 1.0, Fox Blocks control moisture intrusion and prohibit the growth of mold and mildew. Importantly, Fox Blocks exceeds ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements, and create energy-efficient buildings.

A best practice for constructing a fire-resistant building includes a fire-resistant wall system, like one constructed with Fox Blocks ICFs.

Windows and Doors for a Fire-Resistant Building

Fire-Resistant Building 3

Fire-resistant glass in the windows and doors is crucial for a fire-resistant building. Classification of fire-resistant glass in doors and windows is according to their insulation and integrity. Insulation is the length of time the glazing product protects the building’s occupants from the heat radiating from a fire. Integrity is the length of time the glazing contains the smoke, fire, and hot flames in a space, so to lessen the spread of the fire. Fire-resistant building design must include fire-resistant glass in the windows and doors.

The Roof for a Fire-Resistant Building

The roof of a fire-resistant building must resist catching fire. Roofs are susceptible to fire from lightning, wildfires, chimney fires, sparks, fireworks, and burning debris. Constructing a roof with fire-resistant materials is a building’s best protection against a roof fire.

Fire-testing exposure of roof systems is in accordance with ASTM E108 or UL 790. Fire-retardant-treated wood roof coverings must also be in accordance with ASTM D2898. The UL 790 establishes three classes of fire-resistant roofing. A best practice for constructing a fire-resistant building uses Class A roofing.

– Class A roof coverings protect against severe fire test exposures and will not slip from a position, or produce flying brands. Class A roof materials include concrete slate, asphalt glass, tiles, clay tiles, and fiber composition shingles.

– Class B roof coverings protect against moderate fire test exposures to the roof deck, will not slip from a position, or produce flying brands. Class B roof materials include shingles and pressure-treated shakes.

– Class C roof coverings protect against light fire test exposures and will not slip from a position or produce flying brands. Class C roofing products include particleboard, plywood, and untreated wood shakes and shingles.

Vents for a Fire-Resistant Building

Fire-Resistant Building 4

Because flames and embers can enter a building through vents, the design of the vents must resist these intrusions. There are several techniques for protecting vents from flying ashes and embers.

– Protect vents in eaves or cornices with baffles to establish a barrier between the vents and the embers.

– Cover the vent openings with 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch metal mesh.

Incorporating fire-resistant elements in new construction is vital to the protection of the building and its occupants. Crucial components of a fire-resistant building include passive fire protection with fire-resistant Fox Block exterior walls, window, door, roofs, and vents.

Please visit Fox Blocks for more information on fire-resistant building design.

To ensure a tornado safe house that best protects the occupants during a tornado event, the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) highly recommends a tornado safe room or shelter, built according to FEMA guidelines.

A residential safe room built with Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICF) meets and exceeds the criteria for a FEMA residential safe room design for a continuous load path and impact resistance. In the event of a dangerous tornado, a safe room built with Fox Blocks ICF can ensure the safety of a home’s occupants.

The Benefits of FEMA Approved Safe Rooms or Storm Shelters

ICF Tornado Safe Rooms 1

Tornado safe rooms are crucial in the United States (U.S.) where an average of 1253 tornadoes occur yearly, creating wind speeds up to 200 mph or more. The impact of tornadoes is catastrophic and kills annually about 60 people, many from flying or falling debris. The majority of tornado fatalities are located either in a mobile or permanent home. Safe rooms are vital to the protection of a home’s occupants during a tornado event.

A further advantage of a safe room is it increases a home’s value. In fact, a report by Professor Kevin Simmons, an economist with Austin College and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, found that safe rooms increase a home’s worth by about $4,200, or on average of 3.5 percent.

Designing and building a tornado shelter or safe room, as specified in FEMA P-361 and FEMA P-320, will create a tornado safe house that provides maximum protection to a home’s occupants during a tornado emergency.

Untangling the Guidelines and Standards for Safe Room Design

ICC-500 – The Standard for Design and Construction of Safe Rooms

The ICC-500 is the International Code Council’s and the National Storm Shelter Association’s (NSSA) standard (ICC/NSSA) for the construction and design of storm shelters (safe rooms). The 2014 ICC-500 is the current ICC/NSSA standard for construction and design of residential and community storm shelters.

ICC-500 – The Referenced Standard for Building Safe Room Used by the IBC, IRC, and FEMA

Since 2009, the International Building Code (IBC, Section 423) and the International Residential Code (IRC, Section R323) have utilized the ICC-500 as their reference standard for building storm shelters. FEMA also uses ICC-500 as a referenced standard for building safe rooms and storm shelters. However, the FEMA guidelines are considered more conservative than the IBC and IRC requirements.

Builders and architects of safe rooms can find the FEMA guidelines in FEMA P-320 (Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business) and FEMA P-361 (Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms).  

The ICC-500 is the reference standard used by the IBC, IRC, and FEMA for the design and construction of safe rooms. Residential safe rooms designed to FEMA guidelines provide occupants of small businesses or homes the best safety against high winds and flying debris during a tornado event.

Building a Tornado Safe House with a FEMA Safe Room

A residential safe room is a solid space designed to meet FEMA specifications. A FEMA safe room provides the occupants of a home or small business near-total protection in severe weather events, including tornadoes. T

The construction and design of a residential safe room must follow the guidelines described in FEMA P-320 and FEMA 361. Critical components of a FEMA residential safe room are a strong continuous load path, and resistance to windborne debris, overturning, and uplift.

A Continuous Load Path is Key to a Residential Safe Room Design

ICF Tornado Safe Rooms 2

A strong continuous load path is key to holding the roof, walls, and foundation of a safe room together during a powerful wind event. A continuous load path ensures that when wind loads attack the roof, the loads will transfer to the shear walls.

The shear walls of the safe room are the essential elements of the continuous load path that block the lateral-loads (horizontal wind forces). The walls must keep their integrity and have the strength to support the roof, while concurrently moving the loads to the foundation. Ultimately, the wind loads must move from the foundation to the ground.

A superb product for a residential safe room is Fox Blocks, which are FEMA approved. Fox Blocks reinforced concrete walls have the continuous load path required to resist severe wind events during tornadoes. The Fox Blocks Wall System is also durable and has the strength to support a roof.

Residential Safe Rooms Must Protect Against Flying Debris

ICF Tornado Safe Rooms 3

The walls, roof, and doors of a residential safe room must resist the impact and penetration of flying debris during a tornado.

– A safe room roof must withstand the impact of a 15-pound 2-inch X 4-inch shot at 67 mph.

– Safe room doors should have documented proof that they are compliant with the most current version of FEMA P-361 and FEMA P-320 or the ICC 500 for tornado wind speed of 250 mph.

– Safe room walls must resist the impact of a 15-pound 2-inch X 4-inch shot at 100 mph

The whole envelope of a residential safe room must protect the shelter’s occupants from flying debris during a dangerous tornado.

An ideal choice for a FEMA safe room is insulated concrete form (ICF) Fox Blocks. Fox Block walls resist damage from flying debris traveling over 100 mph. Fox Blocks are the best protection from windblown debris to occupants in a safe room during a tornado event.  

Safe Rooms Must Resists Uplift and Overturning

It is essential to a residential safe room to anchor its foundation so to resist overturning and uplift as it receives the wind loads from of the walls. The anchoring and design of the slab-on-grade foundation must follow the guidelines in FEMA P-361, as defined by the ICC-500 (Section 308.1.1.2). During life-threatening wind events, the foundation of a residential safe room must resist uplift, overturning, and sliding forces.

When designed and built according to FEMA guidelines, a tornado safe room or shelter, for a home or small business, will create a space for the occupants that provides maximum protection during tornadoes. A residential safe room constructed with Fox Blocks meets and exceeds the criteria for a FEMA residential safe room design for a continuous load path and impact resistance.

Please visit Fox Blocks for more information on building a safe room for a tornado safe house.

Modern insulated concrete form (ICF) homes create energy-efficient, disaster-resistant, and durable houses. ICF homes are also low maintenance, quiet, and healthy. Importantly, ICF accommodates all affordability levels, from modern luxury estates to stylish starter homes.

Building a modern ICF home provides homeowners, of all income levels, an energy-efficient, disaster-resistant, durable and healthy house.  

Why Build a Modern ICF Home?

Modern Home Insulated Concrete Form 1

A modern ICF home, like one built with Fox Blocks, is a wise choice for today’s safety- and energy-aware families.

– ICF homes are fire-resistant  

– ICF homes are impact-resistant and can stand up to severe storm events with wind speeds up to 250 mph

– ICF construction is energy-efficient

– ICF homes are quiet

– ICF construction is moisture-resistant and therefore low maintenance, healthy, and achieve a lifespan that is hundreds of years longer than traditional building methods

Specifically, ICF homeowners can expect the following advantages over a wood-frame house: 20 percent or more energy savings, 10-30 percent less outside air infiltration, twice the strength, a 4-hour fire rating, and three times quieter. Building a modern ICF home saves money and energy, and improves the safety and comfort of its occupants.

Design Features of a Modern ICF Home

Modern Home Insulated Concrete Form 2

An essential element of modern home design, as opposed to traditional home design, is the use of newer building materials and technologies, like ICF. Modern ICF homes often include large geometrical patterns and shapes, industrial materials, and sleek lines. The smooth finish of concrete with its subtle shades of gray and functional character further achieve a contemporary look. However, all finishes are available to the exterior of an ICF home: siding, brick, stone, etc. The look of a modern ICF home can vary from sleek and bold to functional and industrial.

Modern ICF House Plans

Because of concrete’s strength and flexibility, ICFs can accommodate most any size or style of a house plan a homeowner can dream up. The ICF forms are simple to cut and shape and may include customized architectural effects, such as curved walls, large openings, long ceiling spans, custom angles, and cathedral ceilings. Common features of a modern ICF house plan include tall and large windows, open floor designs, asymmetrical shapes with unique angles, and flat, multilevel rooflines.

Easy Conversion of Stick Built Home Plan to ICF Home Plan

Furthermore, almost any conventional stick built home plan can be converted to ICF construction either by a builder, architect, or designer. Once built, ICF houses are nearly identical in outside appearance to their wood-framed equivalent. However, there are several slight hidden differences between ICF and wood-frame construction.

1. ICF exterior walls are thicker than wood-frame exterior walls. Therefore, when converting a wood-frame home plan to an ICF home plan, keep the interior dimensions, so as not to lose living space.

2. The overall increase in the dimensions of an ICF home will also require increases in the roof and foundation systems.

Fox Block Modern ICF Homes

Fox Block is a division of Airlite Plastics Company and one of the earliest molders to design and manufacture ICF Blocks. Fox Blocks are insulated concrete forms that reduce construction time and create a modern, energy-efficient, durable, healthy, and comfortable home.  

6 Modern ICF Homes Built With Fox Block

Take a look at these 6 homes built with Fox Blocks ICF forms for inspiration on your future dream house.

1. 2016 KING GEORGE LANTERN HALL

Modern Home Insulated Concrete Form 3

A 10,000 square foot modern ICF home designed to minimize energy use and protect the house and its occupants from the threat of hurricanes, common along the Chesapeake Bay.

2. 2016 MILTON RESIDENCE

Modern Home Insulated Concrete Form 4

A 2,250 square foot net-zero, modern ICF home with a complex-hip roof and classic design. The Fox Block construction of this aesthetically pleasing house will also protect the home and its occupants from hurricanes, common along the East Coast.

3. 2012 WEST VANCOUVER BC RESIDENCE

Modern Home Insulated Concrete Form 5

A 5,200 square foot custom built ICF home blends the appeal of classic craftsmanship with ICF efficiency. The home includes nine levels, a six-point intersect roofline, and an ICF/timber frame hybrid structural system.

4. 2013 LODGE AT MARLOW

Modern Home Insulated Concrete Form 4

A 2,600 square foot ICF traditionally styled home located near the Alabama Gulf Coast.  With the help of Fox Block construction, this home meets the standards for Fortified for Safer Living certification (FFSL).

5. 2014 SHORE ROAD RESIDENCE

Modern Home Insulated Concrete Form 7

A 2,700 square foot ICF custom home designed to meet the Town of Old Greenwich, Connecticut historical design requirements.

6. HIGHLAND RESIDENCE

Modern Home Insulated Concrete Form 8

A 6000 square foot visually unique ICF home with multiple bays. The home also features 7 corners with 45 degrees Fox Blocks and 29 corners with 90 degrees Fox Blocks.

Homeowners from British Columbia to Alabama Gulf Coast have used Fox Blocks to build their new modern ICF homes. For more information on building Fox Blocks contact an expert today.

ICF and the concrete industry have been growing in leaps and bounds over the last several years. As more home and business owners become aware of the benefits of this unique form of building, more builders and contractors are beginning to meet demand.

Below, you’ll find the top 24 builders and contractors who work with ICF. These companies are doing exceptional, and oftentimes, groundbreaking work, helping to push the concrete industry forward. Check them out to learn more about this exciting industry and the people behind it.

1. A.B.A. Services LLC

ICF Builders 1

814-494-0527

Osterburg, PA

https://abaservicesllc.com/

A.B.A Services takes on jobs of every size, scope, and scale. They offer concrete construction services, including ICF and the systems it employ such as excavation and the concrete that fill the forms.

2. Active Contractors Inc.

ICF Builders 2

951-579-8147

Temecula, CA

http://activecontractorsinc.com

A full service general contracting firm specializing in residential construction, Active Construction lists ICF as one of their offerings. They understand the benefits ICF can bring their clients, and have the knowledge and experience to assist other builders as well.

3. Alternative Energy Construction

ICF Builders 3

417-224-3926

Springfield, MO

http://www.alternativeenergyconstructionllc.com

Alternative Energy Construction of Springfield, MO believes that ICF is the future of residential construction. They work with both blocks and ICF panels to achieve better results for all projects.

4. Chiaramonte Construction Company

ICF Builders 4

202-562-0027

Washington, DC

http://www.cc-builder.com

The Chiaramonte Construction Company in Washington, DC is a small general contracting firm that focuses on sustainable design. They cover a range of materials and techniques, including those in concrete, such as ICF.

5. Cobra Concrete

ICF Builders 5

803-640-0303

Aiken, SC

http://cobraconcrete.net/

Cobra Concrete builds only with ICF blocks, and they do so faster and less expensively than traditional builders working with other materials. They have an impressive project gallery, showing clients just what’s possible with this innovative material.

6. Connor Construction

ICF Builders 6

815-585-2378

Morris, IL

https://carpentrybyconnor.com/

Connor Construction is a custom home builder located in Morris, IL. In addition to building custom homes and offering exceptional service, they also specialize in and offer ICF construction.

7. Cornerstone Custom Construction, Inc.

ICF Builders 7

763-754-3939

Ramsey, MN

http://cornerstoneccinc.com

Cornerstone Custom Construction Inc. has been building homes using ICF since 1998 – long before others caught on to what an impressive building system this is. Since then, they have crafting beautiful homes and businesses using ICF, and have become one of the premier builders in their area.

8. Force 5 Walls, Inc.

ICF Builders 8

(251) 965-9494

Magnolia Springs, AL

https://force5walls.com/

Force 5 Walls has been working with ICF since 1997, and has a stunning portfolio of work to show for it. They take on projects of all kinds, including beautiful custom homes, commercial buildings and schools. They’re quick to point out to their clients the many ways that ICF can benefit their project.

9. Heritage Lane Builders

ICF Builders 9

204-388-6983

Manitoba, Canada

www.heritagelanebuilders.com

Since 1987, Heritage Lane Builders have been building and renovating custom homes. They offer a wide range of sites, layouts, and plans to suit anyone’s home building needs.

10. Holiday Builders, Inc.

ICF Builders 10

231-873-2523

Hart, MI

http://www.holidaybuildersinc.com

Holiday Builders has been working with ICF and stamped concrete pavers for more than 25 years. They specialize in concrete construction, but can help meet any building needs.

11. Lonnie Wright Construction Co., Inc.

ICF Builders 11

505-832-5176

Stanley, NM

https://lonniewrightconstruction.com

Lonnie Wright Construction has been building in the Stanley, New Mexico area since 1978. In 1995, they began going green, which included the use of ICF in the homes that they were constructing. Since then, they’ve been one of the premier ICF builders in the area.

12. MACNAK Construction

ICF Builders 12

253-212-2378

Lakewood, WA

http://www.macnak.com/

Macnak construction strives for perfection with everything they build. They specialize in ICF and concrete buildings and homes, believing that these structures are better, more durable, and more energy efficient than stick built, and they strive to give people these benefits at no additional costs.

13. Merlin Custom Home Builders

ICF Builders 13

702-257-8102

Las Vegas, NV

https://merlincontracting.com/

Since its inception in 1989, Merlin Contracting has built or remodeled more than 200 custom homes – including some built with ICF. They have Nevada State approval to build homes of any size, scope, or scale, and they do so with breathtaking results.

14. Mid-Atlantic ICF

ICF Builders 14

540-327-5840

Crystal River, FL

http://www.midatlanticicf.com/

Mid-Atlantic ICF works solely with ICF constructions, educating on its properties and assisting in builds. They are one of the largest ICF contractors in the area they serve.

15. Modern Group AZ

ICF Builders 15

480-596-1100

Scottsdale, AZ

https://moderngroupaz.com/

Modern Group AZ is a specialized group of subcontractors ready to assist builders and contractors with their projects. Included in their wide array of talents is the ability to work with different building systems – including ICF blocks.

16. Murphy Brothers Contracting

ICF Builders 16

914-777-5777

Mamaroneck, NY

https://www.murphybrothers.com

Murphy Brothers Contracting puts an emphasis on quality and another on building green. That’s why they list ICF as one of the ways that they can assist their clients in achieving both goals.

17. New Castle Home Builders

ICF Builders 17

515-462-2093

Winterset, IA

http://www.newcastlehomebuilders.com

New Castle Home Builders is a specialized concrete building firm in Iowa. Their custom home portfolio has continued to grow with ICF homes over the last several years, developing into an impressive display.

18. Perfection Builders

ICF Builders 18

250-804-9660

BC, Canada

www.perfectionbuilders.ca

Perfection Builders has been building homes in British Columbia since 2003. They specialize in custom projects, including those built using alternative methods such as ICF.

19. Riversdale ICF Distributors & Builders

ICF Builders 19

509-292-2334

https://www.riversdalebuilders.com/

Riversdale Builders specialize in the use of ICF, touting their many advantages to clients. They install ICF throughout Northeast Washington and into the Idaho Panhandle.

20. Ryman Homes

ICF Builders 20

204-325-2200

Manitoba, Canada

www.rymanandsons.com

Ryman and Sons are residential and commercial concrete contractors in Manitoba, Canada. They offer a full range of concrete construction services, including ICF.

21. Southern Wall Systems

ICF Builders 21

336-417-1521

Rd Elon, NC

https://www.ncicfinstaller.com/

Southern Wall Systems makes a compelling case for why ICF should be the preferred building method in the south. They offer a wide range of services, including ICF, and help to educate others as to why they should make the switch.

22. Turning Leaf Construction

ICF Builders 22

407-792-4531

Sanford, FL

http://www.turningleafco.com/

Founded in 2009, Turning Leaf Construction has been putting a focus on energy efficient building since day one. That’s why they have a dedicated branch of their company dealing exclusively with ICF. They take on projects of every size – big or small – including custom homes.

23. Van Haren Construction Inc.

ICF Builders 23

507-332-8200

Faribault, MN

http://www.vanharenconstruction.com

Van Haren Construction is another company who saw the benefits of ICF long before the others around them. They are one of the best builders in the Faribault, MN area, using ICF to construct and build custom homes.

24. Vintage Custom Homes

ICF Builders 24

863-446-3001

Volusia County, FL

https://vcustomhomes.com/

Located in Volusia County, FL, Vintage Custom Homes is the premier ICF builder for the area. They’ve constructed more than 30 homes from ICF blocks since 2015, and founder Tad A. Olmsted firmly believes that they are the best way to build.

Build Better with ICF

As the work and portfolios of these 24 companies shows, ICF is a versatile, durable, and outstanding way to build a home or business. Take a look at any of these premier concrete builders to find out more about what services they may offer you.

Contractors and architects striving to build durable, strong, and energy-efficient foundations should consider Fox Block insulated concrete form (ICF) over poured concrete foundations. ICF and poured concrete foundations both aim to support a building and resist lateral forces and buckling. However, a high-performing foundation must also seek to resist cracking, moisture intrusion, and heat flow.

ICF foundations, like one built with Fox Blocks, more effectively resist heat flow, cracking, and moisture intrusion over poured concrete foundations.

Why a Strong Foundation is Important

Insulated Concrete Form Foundations 1

A strong foundation gives a building or home integrity against the forces of nature. It also ensures a safe place to live, work, etc. A foundation supports and anchors a building. It is also a water and soil vapor barrier. Importantly, a foundation is responsible for all the load transfers from the building to the ground.

There are several foundations used in modern construction: crawlspace, slab on grade, and basement.

1. Crawlspace foundations support the entire structure and are similar to basement foundations, only they are more shallow – three to four feet deep.

2. Slab foundation is a concrete slab, between four and eight inches thick. Slab foundation is the least expensive of the three foundations.

3. A basement foundation supports the entire structure. A basement foundation is a minimum of eight feet above the footings and provides living and storage space.

Two materials used to construct foundations are ICF and poured concrete.

Insulated Concrete Forms Foundations

Insulated Concrete Form Foundations 2

ICFs provide durability and insulation for below-grade walls. Constructing ICF foundations involves dry-stacking expanded polystyrene foam panels, or interlocking hollow extruded polystyrene foam, to a foundation’s length. The forms are reinforced and braced. Workers then pour concrete into the hollow form panels. ICF foundation construction is a fast and simple method of building below-grade walls.

Advantages of ICF Foundations

– ICFs provide an excellent curing environment for concrete walls, resulting in a concrete foundation with about double the compressive strength of conventionally poured concrete foundation.

– ICF foundations are disaster-resistant. For example, Fox Blocks, with steel reinforced concrete, are disaster-resistant and can withstand tornado and hurricane winds exceeding 200 mph, and projectile debris traveling over 100 mph.

– ICF foundations incorporate continuous insulation and have few to no thermal bridges.

– ICF foundations have built-in insulation values of greater than R-20. For example, foundations built with Fox Blocks exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements with an R-value of 23. 

– ICF walls are fire-resistant. For example, Fox Blocks have a fire-resistance rating (ASTM E119) of 4 hours for the 6-inch blocks and 2 hours for the 4-inch blocks.

– ICF is termite resistant with an application of a product like Polyguard Products, Inc. 650 XTM or 650 XTP membranes.

– The ambient temperature can be as cold as 5°F when pouring of concrete into the ICFs.

Poured Concrete Foundations

Insulated Concrete Form Foundations 3

Poured concrete foundations became popular in the 1980s. Constructing a poured concrete foundation involves placing forms on top of spread footings. Then steel rebar is placed between the forms. The last step is to pour concrete into the forms. Poured concrete walls are 8-10 inches thick and available with surface patterns, like brick, which provides a finished appearance.

Advantages of Poured Concrete Foundation

– Poured concrete foundations provide a high level of strength and durability and can last for decades. Also, poured walls have a compressive and flexural strength several times that of concrete block.

– Poured concrete foundations are fire-resistant. Solid wall construction affords at least twice as much protection against fire as hollow core concrete block

– Poured concrete foundations are termite-resistant.

Disadvantages of Poured Concrete Foundation

Insulated Concrete Form Foundations 4

– Poured wall concrete should not be poured in very cold weather.

– Water leakage problems in poured concrete foundations

– If not prepared correctly, poured concrete can crack, which water can leak through. These cracks are often difficult to find and require the building owner to dig up all the concrete to find the source of leakage.

– Poured concrete walls can leak moisture through non-structural cracks in the wall, where the floor and wall meet, at the top of the foundation wall or through the porous concrete.

– Leaks may occur if the foundation drops, settles, or sinks due to the soil below the foundation collapsing.

– Dry spots in the concrete wall can occur by improper grading or poorly planned outdoor construction.

Insulated Concrete Form Vs. Poured Concrete Foundations

Insulated Concrete Form Foundations 5

ICF foundations are more energy efficient, less prone to moisture intrusion, less sensitive to cold temperatures than poured concrete foundations.

– ICF foundations have an R-value of greater than 20. Poured concrete foundations have R-values of less than 3.

– Because the forms protect the concrete of ICF foundations, they are less susceptible to cracking and leaking than poured concrete foundations.

– ICF foundations can be constructed most times of the year because it is not as sensitive to cold temperatures as poured concrete.

– ICF foundations have  the about double compressive strength of conventionally poured concrete foundations. Therefore there is less opportunity for moisture intrusion with ICF than poured concrete.

– Poured concrete foundations are more prone to shifts in the ground and water pressure than ICF foundations. So,  poured concrete foundations are more at risk of cracking and leaking, which can lead to mold and mildew growth.

ICF and poured concrete foundations both strive to support a building and resist lateral forces and buckling. However, a high-performing ICF foundation, like one built with Fox Blocks, is more energy-efficient and resistant to cracking and moisture intrusion than poured concrete foundations. Builders and architects aiming to construct durable, healthy, and energy-efficient foundations should consider Fox Block ICF construction.

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