3 best practices for constructing ICF buildings

3 best practices for constructing ICF buildings

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Over the past year, there has been a drastic increase in severely damaging weather phenomenon.  In many cases, these weather incidents happened in places that were not well equipped for such massive storms. As a result, the structural damage these places faced seemed insurmountable. Many companies and private residents are looking for more durable, storm-ready construction. An ICF building is one such structure that will be able to withstand various weather elements.

It's all about the continuous load path

One of the reasons an IFC structure is so weather resistant is due to its design, which includes a continuous load path. This type of load path creates the best line-of-defense against various weather elements, including tornado-force winds that will try to rip it apart. It makes for a structure that provides more protection than the FEMA-recommended safe rooms. When a building with a continuous load path is attacked by a load, like tornado-force winds, the load will go from the roof down to the walls, and towards the foundation and ground. ICF structures will ensure that the building remains entirely intact.

Insulated concrete blocks make it strong

It is not just a continuous load path which helps to make a building able to withstand tornado-force winds. It is also the materials used; like with any ICF home or building, the structure itself is built using insulated concrete blocks. These blocks have a distinctive design that helps make it possible for them to withstand winds over 200 mph, making them much stronger than wood and even steel-framed buildings. A study by the Portland Cement Association (PCA) confirmed this strength, showing that concrete block walls have a much higher structural capacity and stiffness, which allows it to resist those stormy winds better.

Not only are they more resistant to wind than traditional framing materials, but the insulated blocks in ICF structures are also more resistant to fast-moving debris. Even if a piece of debris is flying at an ICF structure at 100 mph, the ICF structure will suffer very little, if any damage. Another study done by Texas Tech University examined the impact resistance of wind-driven debris on ICF structures compared to that of conventional framing methods. The study found that, like with the PCA study, that an ICF structure is more resistant to wind-driven debris than other framing methods.

Not just protection against tornadoes

It is clear that ICF buildings have protection against tornado-force winds. But, that also means that it will also be safe against severe rainstorms, which can come with equally strong winds that can cause damage. With the structural design that ICF structures use, they will also be able to withstand earthquakes more readily than other kinds with little to no damage. Of course, in areas where wildfires are a concern, ICF structures are also rated to handle fire better, and burn at a slower rate, giving emergency crews more time to try and save the building so it would only need repairs, rather than being entirely rebuilt. 

Every year, countless major weather incidents occur across the country. With tornadoes alone, hundreds are known to happen in tornado-prone states each year, leading to numerous injuries and even some fatalities. That is why it is so important to make the switch from traditional wood and steel framed-structures to ICF-based structures, which are much stronger and more capable of withstanding strong winds, even when flying debris is involved. It will provide the peace of mind in knowing that the building was designed with safety in mind and will be better able to survive even the harshest of weather conditions.

Matt Lee from Innovative Building Materials is a green design and digital marketing expert. Innovative Building Materials is a website that covers various construction topics and design concepts with a focus on sustainable and stylish building materials.


Topics: Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF), Insulation, Sustainable Trends and Statistics, Thermal Envelope - Building Envelope

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