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 How It's Built


The build process starts with the ICF blocks, which consist of two layers of insulating material, usually expanded polystyrene (EPS) or extruded polystyrene (XPS) separated by plastic webs. The plastic webs hold the panels together, but they also make a place for laying reinforcing bar, and are shaped to form a nailing/fastening surface just under the surface of the foam. The blocks themselves are similar to children's blocks, and are shaped to allow them to stack quickly and easily.


The blocks are stacked as required to form walls and openings. Special blocks allow the easy formation of 90-degree and 45-degree corners. The blocks can be trimmed to any required length.


Heavy dimensional lumber is used to create frames (or "bucks") for openings to accommodate doors, windows, and so forth. These bucks provide a seal for the concrete, and are left in place after the concrete is poured to provide the rough opening into which the door or window is mounted.


As each course of ICF block is laid, steel reinforcing bars are laid into the plastic web, taking advantage of the positioning tabs provided. The rebar is overlapped and tied together to provide strength and flexibility to the structure, while the concrete that is added later provides tremendous compressive strength - an ideal combination!


The wall structure and larger openings are then braced to support them while the concrete is being poured.


Finally, the concrete itself is poured into the forms, using a vibrator to ensure that the concrete fills the forms completely, and that no air pockets ("voids") are left.


For multi-storey structures, floor joists are now laid in place, and work starts on the next storey. When all storeys are completed, roof trusses are put in place in much the same manner as normal construction, and doors and windows are installed in the rough openings. The ICF walls are now ready for waterproofing, if below-grade, or for application of siding or other finish selected by the proud owner.

Photos courtesy of ICF Homes website

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