Concrete construction using insulating concrete forms (ICFs) has become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to the efficiency advantages this type of construction offers. Though ICFs offer many advantages, their relative novelty makes it so that some builders use them incorrectly.
The following are seven noteworthy mistakes to avoid when building with ICFs to take advantage of the efficiency and structural advantages they offer:
Not using enough fasteners
For the sake of speed, builders are sometimes tempted to not put the recommended amount of fasteners in ICF construction. However, this will detract from the durability of the completed construction and could lead to premature repair needs.
Being inaccurate in the area around the roof line
The thermal efficiency advantages of ICF construction can't be enjoyed if continuity is missing between the air barrier, insulation, and roof. One of the most important things that need to be done to enjoy efficiency advantages is make construction perfectly flush around the roof line.
Spending excessive amounts of money on cantilevers
It's important to realize that ICF construction is particularly suitable to simple, standard wall designs. When more complicated designs like cantilevers are added, the advantage of ICFs are outweighed by the fact that structural support for the additional weight of the concrete walls is difficult to achieve.
Working without clear design guides
It's important to use design guides with ICF construction to clearly show important factors like reinforcing requirements that can be executed efficiently to save money on materials.
Not putting enough thought into choices on bracing and alignment systems
It's important to use the right bracing and alignment systems to ensure that the resulting wall is level and straight. Unfortunately, some builders try to cut corners with ICFs by designing their own unique bracing system that just doesn't work as well as the standard system specific ICF bracing solution.
Making ICF construction excessively complicated
The beauty of ICF construction is that it offers a simple solution for effectively insulating walls. However, engineers sometimes make the mistake of over-complicating things by working with ICF as if it were a structural component or system rather than a basic form work.
Using unnecessary vapor retarders or air barriers
While some builders will feel like they need to use vapor retarders or air barriers with ICF construction, extra layers added for these features are not necessary with ICF design. Although it's important to make some consideration for drainage and waterproofing, weather-resistant barriers themselves are not necessary.