ICF Wall System: Everything You Need To Know About

ICF wall

An ICF wall system is the perfect solution for a robust home

Solid and sustainable construction has become a go-to method for home building, and towards that end, an ICF wall system is indispensable. 

You see, a home’s sturdiness depends as much on the outer walls as its foundation and roofing.

Not to mention that with a smart combination of eco-friendly walls and roofs, you can naturally insulate your home, apart from helping protect the ecology. 

Alas, the traditional timber walls aren’t either robust or ecologically sound. And for a hurricane-prone state like Florida, they’re certainly not the right building materials. 

Thankfully, like other modern-day building solutions, there’s a reliable replacement for timber walls in the form of an ICF wall.

ICF walls are green structural systems with impeccable impact resistance and longevity. So it isn’t surprising that the market size of ICFs is valued to be $1 billion (and still growing). 

Wondering what ICF wall systems have in store for you and how you can incorporate them into your home?

Let’s find out!

What exactly is an ICF wall system? 

An ICF or insulated concrete form is a one-of-a-kind wall system made with innovative materials such as expanded polystyrene (EPS), recycled waste wood, and concrete combo, among others. 

A wall system like this is very similar to a hollow brick block and has interlocking features to firmly hold individual blocks together. 

Once fastened together, the hollow interiors of these forms are filled with concrete, and finishing, such as sidings, attached to the structure. 

Compared to regular construction, these concrete forms reduce the building time significantly since fastening the blocks and pouring in concrete are all it takes to build a wall. 

What are the advantages of an insulated concrete form wall? 

Steel SIP panel home

As we saw earlier, ICF wall systems fare better than their old-school timber panel counterparts. 

But are these structural systems all about sustainability and strength, you might wonder?

While it’s true that these qualities make insulated concrete forms one of the top contenders for both residential and commercial buildings, they certainly have a lot more to offer. 

In fact, homeowners, as well as contractors, find ICF blocks a lucrative choice for a number of reasons. 

And to answer your queries, here are the benefits of ICF wall systems: 

Benefits of ICF wall system for homeowners: 

#1. Disaster resistance unlike any other wall

An ICF wall features a reinforced concrete filing, something that you won’t find in regular wood walls. And this is exactly why homes built with insulated concrete forms stand strong in weather extremities such as hurricanes, storms, and more. 

As such, with an ICF building system, not only can you meet the hurricane safety requirements of the Florida Building Code but also stay safe in the worst of hurricanes. 

#2. Excellent insulation (and energy savings)

Apart from building the walls of your home, ICF blocks also offer great insulation with an R-value starting from 18 and going up to 24 in certain wall types. And this keeps your home naturally cool or warm, just like steel SIP panels

Meaning you can expect lesser energy usage for indoor heating or cooling and thus lower utility bills. 

Further, these insulating walls also act as a barrier to outdoor noises, keeping your interior space quiet. 

#3. ICF walls are fire rated

Another incredible aspect of the IFC wall system is its fire rating and unmatched safety record in fire-related incidents. 

An insulated concrete form, on average, can prevent fires up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit for hours. Take the FASWALL ICF building system, for instance, which undergoes rigorous testing for smoke and blaze prevention and comes with a 4-hour fire rating. 

In fact, wall systems like this have kept homes and buildings safe on occasions when traditional wooden walls couldn’t stand the inferno. 

#4. There’s no match for ICF’s longevity

The very materials that make an ICF wall solid also make it highly durable. So much so that one such wall can last you for the next hundred years (or more). 

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? 

You see, like all wooden materials, walls made with wood planks are also prone to rotting, notwithstanding the timber quality. 

And no matter how well-maintained such a wall structure is, it will only last between 25 and 40 years. That’s nowhere close to the average longevity of ICF systems. 

#5. ICF walls don’t off-gas

A regular wall panel is made using a lot of chemical-based materials and finishes, such as additives, insulants, etc. And it can continue to release toxic gasses for years after installation. 

Now, off-gassing is harmful to all the occupants of your home, especially kids, older adults, and people with underlying health conditions. 

However, ICF wall systems are made with stucco and cement plaster and feature a natural pigment color. That means you can rest easy as these wall materials will never be off-gassing. 

#6. These walls are pest resistant

Unlike wood walls which can be a thriving place for termites, an ICF wall system is completely free from pests and termites. 

As a matter of fact, a University of Georgia study shows that termites can’t make their way through an insulated concrete form wall. 

That’s interesting, isn’t it? 

Benefits of ICF wall system for contractors:

#1. Quick construction 

On average, an ICF wall can reduce the construction time from two to four months, depending on the size of the building structure. And that’s great news for contractors who can now build more in less time

Wooden wall frames need to be coated with two or three layers of protective cover to prevent moisture-related damage, which is a time taking process. 

Since ICF walls don’t call for extensive finishes as wood frames, they’re time-saving for both interior and exterior construction. 

Bonus: Post-construction home inspections are simple for those homes that are built with ICF wall panels, thanks to the flexibility they offer.

#2. Easy to ship 

The insulated concrete forms are much lighter in weight compared to wooden planks, and this makes shipping the ICFs very easy. 

So be it shipping to your construction site or delivering at your client’s location, with ICFs, you can do so much quickly and affordably. 

#3. Effortless to meet energy codes

An insulated panel form or ICF wall system makes it quite straightforward for builders and contractors to comply with Florida Energy Code. 

What are the disadvantages of ICF walls? 

FASWALL ICF wall system

While the benefits of an ICF wall overwhelmingly outweigh its drawbacks, some disadvantages are hard to ignore. For instance: 

#1. Remodeling your home can be a task 

Wooden walls allow for easy remodeling, something hard to accomplish on ICF walls. That’s because wooden planks are easy to cut through when it comes to building new doors and windows. 

ICF wall systems, however, require you to cut through a thick layer of concrete for remodeling projects, which can be both expensive and time-consuming. 

#2. Reduced floor space 

A wall built with an insulated concrete form or ICF can have a thickness between 6 and 12 inches. And this is way more than a wall built with wooden planks. 

As a result, you’ll have reduced floor space compared to homes with wooden walls. 

How much does an ICF wall system cost? 

According to estimates from Home Advisor, an ICF construction can cost you anywhere between $120 and $230 for every square foot. 

Even though this is $20-$75 more expensive than traditional wood-based construction, ICF construction offers a much larger return on investment or ROI. 

For instance, you can recover a significant portion of your investment by simply saving on your energy bills. 

Impressive, right? 

Wrapping it up

As you can see, with ICF wall systems, you can make a full-proof home that will last you for more than 100 years. 

Add to it the fact that not only are ICF walls made with recycled materials, but they’re also recyclable. That means if you want to build an eco-friendly home, your search stops here.  

Looking to build one such green home

You can reach out to us!

At Eco-$mart Inc, we have the largest inventory of sustainable construction materials ranging from roofing to flooring to lighting to solar energy to green HVACs and more. 

So whatever be your green building requirement, we’ve got you covered. 


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