Insulating Concrete Forms 2008 Page 1 Insulating Concrete Forms Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs) are poured-in-place reinforced concrete building systems comprised of hollow blocks, panels, or planks made of rigid foam (typically polystyrene). The forms are erected and filled with concrete and reinforcing rods to form the structure and to insulate of exterior walls. ICFs are growing rapidly in popularity because they are cost-competitive with wood-frame construction, easy to learn to use, and environmentally friendly. Yet, they deliver a high quality building that is more energy efficient, comfortable, durable, stronger, quieter, and more resistant to natural elements. ICFs originally were used mostly for basements of homes but are currently used primarily for wall construction, although several manufacturers are designing additional forming components that will allow the construction of attached concrete floors at the same time. Types of ICFs There are over 45 manufacturers of ICFs in the United States and many of these companies are members of the Insulating Concrete Forms Association (ICFA). The ICFA web site (www.forms.org) and can be contacted for information on the product as well as a directory of its member ICF producers. Although there are a number of different manufacturers, there are only three basic types of ICFs based on the shape of the cavity that is filled with concrete: flat, grid, and post-and-beam. Regardless of the shape of the internal concrete, there are two ways of connecting the front and back of the form. In one arrangement, plastic or metal cross ties are used to connect the two sides of the form. In some of the grid-pattern forms, a foam bridge connects the front and back of the form. The metal or plastic cross ties do not affect the shape of the concrete, but the foam bridges cause breaks in the concrete every foot or so. The following figure shows plastic cross ties and, second from the left, is a solid foam bridge connection.
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