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.

ICF Construction Tornado 1

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

ICF Construction Tornado 2

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.  

ICF Construction Tornado 3

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

ICF Construction Tornado 4

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

Insulated Concrete Forms Garage Construction 1

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

Insulated Concrete Forms Garage Construction 2

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

Insulated Concrete Forms Garage Construction 3

– 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.

Schools built with Fox Block insulated concrete forms (ICF) are energy-efficient, healthy, and comfortable. Building with Fox Block ICF also helps a school achieve U.S. Green Building Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

A LEED-certified school saves communities energy, money, and resources. Builders, architects, and community leaders who choose ICF when constructing a new school will ensure a green, safe, and productive environment for their students and teachers.

LEED Certification for Schools

Schools with ICF Construction 1The U.S. Green Building LEED for schools is a green building certification program for K-12 schools. The program evaluates classroom acoustics, energy-efficiency, master planning, mold prevention, and environmental site assessment.

The schools are also rated based on their impact on their sites, design, material used, sourcing, construction, and efficiency of building systems including, water, energy, air quality, lighting, waste, and transportation. There are currently over 2,000 LEED-certified K-12 schools in the United States.

Categories for LEED-Certification

For a school to be a LEED-certified, the school must obtain a minimum number of points in six specific areas.

  1. Use of water and energy
  2. Indoor air quality and comfort
  3. Innovation in sustainable design and construction
  4. Site selection and development
  5. Environmentally preferred materials, finishes, and furnishings
  6. Waste stream management

4 Energy-Efficient Strategies for a LEED-Certified School

Schools with ICF Construction 21. A Green School Must have a Tight Building Envelope

A vital element of a LEED-certified school is a tight building envelope that stops the flow of heat by air, vapor, and radiation. The building envelope includes the walls, roof, windows, doors, and foundation.

Essential design elements for a tight building envelope are continuous insulation (CI), an air and moisture barrier, and utilization of materials with low-conductivity and high effective R-value and thermal mass. A tight building envelope creates an energy-efficient school and is a crucial element towards LEED-certification.

Construct Energy-Efficient Walls with Fox Block ICF

Fox Block creates an airtight building envelope for an energy-efficient, LEED-certified school. Fox Blocks are a high thermal mass product that provides continuous insulation and an R-value of 23.

Fox Blocks also produce a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of less than 1.0, which controls moisture intrusion. Fox Block ICFs create green schools with superb energy performance and moisture resistance; essential factors towards LEED-certification.

2. Acoustic Design in LEED-Certified Schools Must Optimize Communication

Schools with ICF Construction 3Designing effective acoustical spaces in schools is crucial for clear communication between the students and the teachers. Noisy or echoey rooms can distract students and slow their learning. To create effective acoustical spaces in schools, designers should select materials with high sound transmission coefficients (STC) ratings.

Designers should also consider reverberation times, and background noise levels like ventilating, heating, and air-conditioning vents and lined ductwork. Reducing noise problems in schools is essential to a productive environment for both students and teachers.

Create Optimal Acoustic Spaces with Fox Blocks
An excellent wall system for creating a learning space that optimizes communication between the students and teacher is the Fox Block Series.

Fox Block Series ICF provides an exterior and interior wall system with high sound reduction. The Fox Block Series meets the American National Standards Institute criteria for schools and received a high ASTM E90 Sound Transmission Classification (STC) rating of more than 50.

3. ICF Schools Ensure Excellent Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Excellent IAQ is vital for ensuring a healthy environment for teachers and students. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.), indoor air is two to ten times more polluted than outdoor air. LEED-certified schools provide cleaner indoor air that is healthier than the air in uncertified schools.

 – LEED-certified schools require ventilation, high-efficiency air filters and measures to reduce mold and mildew. When spaces are closed up with little ventilation, they can become incubators for mold and germs, which causes illnesses and increases absentee rates of the students and teachers. Therefore, proper ventilation is essential to the air quality in a school.

 – Air and moisture resistance in a school’s wall system is also essential for preventing air and moisture infiltration and accumulation to the interior of the structure, which can lead to mold and further diminish a school’s IAQ.

4. Ensure Excellent IAQ with Fox Blocks ICF

Schools with ICF Construction 4Fox Blocks provide a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of less than 1.0, which controls moisture intrusion. Furthermore, Fox Block’s two layers of continuous interior and exterior EPS insulation give additional protection against water intrusion.

Together, the EPS and concrete provide air and vapor barriers on both sides of the wall, which prevents moisture accumulation within the wall system and the growth of unhealthy mold.

Fox Blocks further promotes excellent IAQ because they do not contain volatile organic compounds VOC. VOCs emissions, often common in wood construction, may cause headaches, nausea, eye, nose, and throat irritations, and damage to the kidneys, central nervous system, and liver.

Fox Blocks ICF Forms Ideal for Schools

The Fox Block is a superb product for building a LEED-certified, green school. Fox Blocks create a tight energy-efficient building envelope with continuous insulation, moisture resistance, and high thermal mass. Fox Blocks also produces schools with high IAQ and noise control.

Please visit Fox Block for more information on building an energy-efficient, LEED-certified school with insulation concrete form.

The Fox Block insulating concrete form (ICF) is an excellent wall system for a disaster-resistant school. Schools built with Fox blocks ICFs maintain their integrity during winds of over 200 mph and resist flying debris moving over 100 mph. Fox Blocks are also fire-resistant. A smart material choice for a disaster-resistant school is Fox Blocks ICFs.

The Importance of Disaster-Resistant Schools

School With Insulated Concrete Forms 1Disaster-resistant schools are designed to protect the building and its occupants from intense wind events and fires. Importantly, many schools are required to have a safe room big enough to hold all the students, teachers, and administrators learning and working in the building.

Protecting Schools from Tornados and Hurricanes

Disaster-resistant schools are crucial for protecting our children and teachers from severe wind events. In 2013, the need for wind-resistant schools became tragically clear. A tornado, with winds of 210 mph, hit and destroyed two elementary schools in Moore, Oklahoma, killing seven children when a wall collapsed. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina significantly damaged 110 of the 126 public schools in New Orleans. Disaster-resistant schools must protect the structure and occupants during tornadoes, hurricanes and other strong wind events.

Protecting Schools from Fires

Fire-resistant design protects the building and its occupants from fires that occur inside and outside of the school. The importance of fire-resistant construction has escalated in recent years, due in large part to the increase in massive wildfires. Protecting the students, teachers, and building during an outside or inside fire event requires a school designed with passive fire protection and fire-resistant materials.

Building a Wind-Resistant School with ICF

School With Insulated Concrete Forms 2The design of a storm-resistant school protects against strong winds and flying debris. Critical to wind-resistant school design is a continuous load path with the strength to resist penetrations from airborne sticks, falling trees, and other debris.

Protect a School Against Strong Winds with a Continuous Load Path

ICF wall construction creates a strong continuous path that ensures the structure will maintain its integrity against winds over 200 mph. In fact, a report published by the Portland Cement Association (PCA) compared the structural load resistance of conventionally framed walls to ICF walls. The report concluded that concrete walls have greater structural capacity and stiffness to resist the in-plane shear forces of severe winds than steel- or wood-framed walls. A school built with ICF has the strength and integrity to withstand winds over 200 mph.

Protect Against Wind-Driven Debris

ICF wall construction is a school’s best protection against wind-driven debris. Worth noting, a study by Texas Tech University found that ICF walls will resist damage debris flying over 100 mph and provides better protection to the building and its occupants during a severe wind event compared to wood-framed walls.

Building a Fire-Resistant School with ICF

School With Insulated Concrete Forms 3Crucial elements for a fire-resistant school include passive fire protection with the use of fire-resistant exterior walls, roofs, doors, windows, and vents. Passive fire protection contains the spread of fire throughout a school building, which reduces dangers to students, teachers, visitors, and property. Passive fire protection also protects critical structural components and stops the collapse of a building. Accomplishing passive fire protection is through the use of fire-resistant walls, windows, doors, roofs, and vents.

Fox Block ICFs Create Disaster-Resistant Schools

School With Insulated Concrete Forms 4Fox Blocks Build Wind-Resistant Schools

Schools constructed with Fox Block insulating concrete forms (ICF) maintain their integrity during intense winds of over 200 mph. Fox Blocks also resist projectile debris traveling over 100 mph. Building a school or a safe room with Fox Blocks ICF can ensure the safety of students and teachers during a dangerous wind event.

Fox Blocks Create Fire-Resistant Structures

An excellent option for a fire-resistant building is Fox Blocks ICF. Fox Blocks have a fire-resistance rating (ASTM E119) of 2 hours for the 4-inch blocks and 4 hours for the 6-inch blocks. In addition, Fox Blocks have ASTM E84 reported value for smoke development of less than 450 and flame speed of less than 25. Fox Blocks protect students and teachers from the threat of fire inside and outside of the school.

Build a Disaster-Resistant School with Fox Block ICF

School With Insulated Concrete Forms 5The Fox Block is a superb product for building a disaster-resistant school. Fox Block construction protects a school and its occupants from severe wind events and fire.  Please visit Fox Block for more information on building a disaster-resistant school.

Wall systems constructed with Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICFs ) ensure a wind-resistant structure with a strong continuous load path that holds the roof, walls, floors, and foundation together during an intense wind event. Fox Blocks also protect a structure and its occupants from projectile debris flying at over 100 mph during a strong storm.

The value of choosing Fox Blocks ICF construction was demonstrated in 2013, when a powerful EF5 tornado, with estimated speeds of 210 mph, attacked Moore, Oklahoma. The horrific wind event killed 24 and injured 212 people, wiping out most of the neighborhoods.

Left standing, however, was a  ICF home built in 2004. For maximum protection against severe wind events, builders and architects are wise to choose Fox Blocks ICF construction.

The Importance of Wind-Resistant Design

Solid Design with ICF Blocks 1A wind-resistant building design protects a structure and its occupants from strong winds and flying debris. Wind-resistant design is particularly important in hurricane- and tornado-prone regions.

A category one hurricane can destroy mobile homes. A category four hurricane, like Irma that hit the Florida Keys in 2017, can destroy wood-framed buildings and cause complete roof failure and wall collapse. A wind-resistant structure should remaining standing during and after severe wind events.

A wind-resistant building must also have the strength to stop flying debris from penetrating the wall system and threaten lives.

Essential Elements of Wind-Resistant Building Design

Wind-resistant construction is essential for protecting a building and its occupants from disastrous outcomes during strong wind events. Critical to wind-resistant building design is a continuous load path with strong roofs, walls, floors, and foundations, and impact resistance.

Continuous Load Path for Wind-Resistant Design

For wind-resistant building design, a continuous load path is the best protection against strong winds. A continuous load path ensures that when a load, including uplift and lateral (horizontal) loads, attacks a structure, the load will move from the roof, wall, and other parts, toward the foundation and into the ground.

A strong continuous load path is critical to holding the roof, walls, floors, and foundation together during a strong wind event of winds of over 200 mph.

Roof Construction of a Wind-Resistant Building

Solid Design with ICF Blocks 2During high winds, building failures often begin with damage to the roof. A roof’s purpose, in a continuous load path, is to transfers the loads imposed by heavy winds to the supporting walls underneath. The roof sheathing works with the roof framing to transfer lateral loads to the structure’s shear walls.

For the protection of a building during a severe wind event, the building and sizing of the roof sheathing and framing must be in accordance with the wind forces of the region.

Roof Sheathing

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

Roof Framing

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

Floor Construction of a Wind-Resistant Building Design

The floor system is part of the continuous path that transfers the loads to the shear walls in the floors below or to the foundation. Floor framing typically consists of dimensional lumber, or floor joists, spanning an open area. Floor joists must be sized to resist the loads of the whole floor system along with vertical loads.

The floor of a wind-resistant building ensures the loads reach the foundation and ultimately the ground.

Impact Resistance of Wind-Resistant Design

Solid Design with ICF Blocks 3During an intense wind event, flying debris is a constant threat to a building and its occupants. A best practice for protecting a structure and its occupants from flying debris are walls constructed with ICF. ICF provides greater resistance to damage from flying debris than wood-framed walls.

Buildings constructed with ICF walls protect the building and its occupants during extreme wind events of over 100 mph.

Fox Block ICF for Wind-Resistant Building Design

Buildings constructed with Fox Block ICF maintain their integrity during intense winds of over 200 mph and resist projectile debris moving over 100 mph.

Importantly, a report by the Portland Cement Association (PCA) concluded that ICF walls have greater structural capacity and stiffness to withstand the in-plane shear forces of high wind than wood- and steel-framed walls. Also, the strength of insulated concrete walls reduces the lateral twists and damage to non-structural elements.

Fox Blocks ICFs have the durability to withstand severe wind events and dangerous flying debris.

Wind-resistant building design must include a strong continuous load path that holds the roof, walls, floors, and foundation together and protects against flying debris during an intense wind event. A best practice for wind-resistant walls is building with Fox Blocks. Fox Blocks create wind-resistant walls that protect a building and its occupants from strong wind and flying debris.

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

Insulated concrete forms (ICF) create a more energy-efficient, quiet, and healthy building than one built with wood-frame construction. ICF buildings are also more resistant to disaster, fire, insect, and moisture intrusion than wood-frame structures.

Furthermore, builders and architects can avoid the volatility and increasing costs of lumber by utilizing an easy to install ICF wall system, like Fox Block, as an excellent alternative to wood-frame construction.

Wood-Framed Construction

Insulated Concrete Forms 1For over 100 years, wood-frame construction has been common in the United States because it is quick, light, renewable, and easily customizable. Wood construction also does not require heavy equipment or tools.

However, architects, contractors, and building owners must contend with several challenges with wood-frame construction: disaster-, fire- and termite-resistance, moisture intrusion, compromised indoor air quality (IAQ), noise control, low thermal mass, and rising timber costs.

7 Problems with Wood-Frame Construction

Insulated Concrete Forms 21. Added Expenses

A disaster-resistant, wood-frame building must achieve a continuous load path to the ground and be missile resistant. Building a disaster-resilient wood-framed structure is doable, but it is expensive and labor intensive. In fact, constructing a disaster-resistant wood-framed building can cost 25–30 percent more than standard wood-frame construction.

2. Increased Fire Risk

Building a wood-frame structure that is fire-resistant is challenging because wood is combustible and it is difficult to reduce the spread of flames. Wood-frame buildings are particularly vulnerable to fire damage during construction before placement of fire protection over the frame.

3. Attractive to Termites

Wood-frame construction is subject to termite problems. Termites can damage a building’s durability and cost thousands of dollars in repairs. In fact, the annual estimated expense for termite damage and control measures in the U.S. is $5 billion. Termite protection for wood-frame construction is challenging and requires a qualified professional and specialized equipment.

4. Moisture Accumulation

Wood-frame structures are prone to moisture accumulation in their wall cavities. Controlling moisture in the wall system of a wood-framed building is difficult because effective methods that stop moisture from entering a wall cavity may also stop the moisture from leaving the wall cavity.

5. Volatile Organic Compounds

Wood-frame buildings may contain adhesives, chemicals, and volatile organic compounds (VOC) that compromise IAQ. VOCs emissions may cause eye, nose, and throat irritations, headaches, nausea, and damage to the kidney, liver, and central nervous system.

6. Harder to Soundproof

For wood-frame wall construction, soundproofing features are required to ensure a quiet and peaceful home. Reducing noise in a wood-frame building is accomplished by limiting sound vibrations with insulation, stud placement, or extra mass within the wall cavity.

7. Low Thermal Mass

Wood has low thermal mass. Therefore, wood-framed structures are not as innately energy-efficient as buildings constructed with high thermal mass products like stone, adobe, and Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms.

ICFs Vs. Wood-Frame Construction

Insulated Concrete Forms 3The Fox Block ICF wall system is easier to install and more energy-efficient and noise-reducing than wood-frame construction. The Fox Block system is also healthier and more disaster-, fire-, termites-, and moisture-resistant than wood wall systems. Finally, ICF construction gives builders a way to avoid the volatility and rising lumber costs.

10 Reasons to Choose Fox Blocks ICF over Wood-Frame Wall Systems

1. Minimizing Unnecessary Steps

Fox Block is an all-in-one wall assembly that combines five construction steps into one, including structure, insulation, air barrier, vapor retarder, and interior-exterior finish attachment. This feature greatly accelerates project delivery by eliminating the need to coordinate multiple trades, while achieving all of the wall system’s objectives.

2. Increased Energy Efficiency

Fox Blocks, with an R-value of 23, are energy-efficient and exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements. In fact, houses built with ICF exterior walls typically require 32 percent less energy to cool and 44 percent less energy to heat than comparable wood-framed homes.

3. High Thermal Mass

The high thermal mass of Fox Blocks contributes towards a high-performing, energy-efficient structure. High thermal mass materials absorb and store heat energy and help stabilize temperature shifts within the structure by slowing the rate of heat transfer.

4. Reduction of Noise Transfer

Sound transmission tests concluded that less than a third of sound passes through ICF walls than wood-frame walls filled with fiberglass insulation. Fox Blocks achieve a Sound Transmission Classification (ASTM E90) of 4-inch=STC 46, 6- and 8-inch = STC 50+.

5. Better Air Quality

Fox Blocks contain little to no VOC, keeping the air quality at a higher level.

6. Exceptional Strength

Fox Blocks are disaster-resistant: 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.

7. Reduced Fire Risk

Fox Blocks 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.

8. Deters Termites and Pests

Fox Blocks are less prone to termite damage because they because they lack organic material, which pests like termites eat.

9. Controls Moisture Intrusion

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.

10. Less Volatility in Material Prices

Builders and architects can avoid the volatility and increasing costs of lumber by selecting an alternative to wood-framed walls like the Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms.

Choosing an Alternative to Wood-Frame Construction

Insulated Concrete Forms 4An excellent alternative to wood-frame construction is Fox Block ICF wall assembly.

Fox Block ICF structures are more resistant to disaster, fire, insect, and moisture intrusion than wood-frame buildings.

Additionally, Fox Blocks create a more efficient-efficient, noise reducing, and healthy building than wood structures. Moreover, Fox Blocks are also easy to install and provide an alternative product to combat increasing lumber prices.

Please visit Fox Blocks for more information on ICF vs. wood-frame construction.

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.

We face environmental pollution every day we step outside our door. Emissions from industries, carbon monoxide emissions from cars, trucks and buses, and many other toxins affect the air we breathe.

It’s hard enough to deal with all of that, much of which is outside the scope of our immediate control, without also having to be concerned with our indoor air quality. Household cleaning products, mold, mildew, animal dander, dust mites and outgassing (VOCs) from paint and glues used in carpeting, all invade the air inside our homes, the very place we look to for shelter and safety. Certain building materials, such as pressed board (commonly used in sub-flooring) and sheathing on wood construction, release contaminants like formaldehyde into our homes. Ventilation plays a role in how these pollutants affect us.

It’s clear that we need a breath of fresh air, and one solution lies in the materials we choose to build our homes. A home built with Fox Blocks has many advantages over a “stick built” (wood) house:

  • Fox Blocks walls release little or no VOCs or airborne particulates.
  • Fox Blocks create an air barrier which helps improve indoor air quality by limiting the amount of moisture that can enter your home through infiltration. That also provides better control for the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system.
  • Fox Blocks limit moisture, so there’s less chance of problems with mold or mildew growth.

Fox Blocks are also great insulators, fire and wind resistant, and super-strong. Using materials such as Fox Blocks along with low-VOC paints, and plant-based cleaning agents will contribute to better indoor air quality and a healthier environment for everyone.

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