There is no shortage of decisions to be made if you're in the process of planning a new house, and one of the most important is the construction of your basement. For most homes, the basement is the structural foundation of the entire house. Despite being buried or partially buried, it also tends to face some of the greatest stresses. Aside from being responsible for supporting the entire house above it, it must also resist pressure from the surrounding soil and be resistant to belowground water. An Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) offers a great, cost-effective solution to many of these problems.
What Are Insulated Concrete Forms?
Modern concrete foundations are poured into molds (called forms) which are then removed. This produces the standard basement walls that most homeowners are familiar with. This type of foundation is long lasting and durable, which is why it has become such a popular construction method. Unfortunately, it can also suffer from a large number of potential defects as a result of improper construction or poor material quality.
Insulated Concrete Forms are an alternative method of constructing a concrete basement. Unlike standard poured concrete, the forms themselves are used as part of the final wall. Concrete is poured into the ICF blocks and the blocks are left in place once the concrete hardens. The outer wall of the form provides both reinforcement and additional insulating properties.
Why Should You Use Insulated Concrete Forms?
ICF blocks offer a large range of advantages over traditional concrete. Obviously, one of the major advantages of these blocks is the insulation itself. The R-Value of a bare ICF block actually exceeds the separate insulation that is often installed into unfinished spaces such as basements and attics. This helps to keep the climate within the basement more consistent and can actually protect the concrete itself from constant heating and cooling cycles.
Although they still require standard basement waterproofing measures, ICF walls are highly water resistant as well. Basements are generally extremely vulnerable to mold, in part because they provide a dark and potentially damp environment for mold colonies to grow. By keeping moisture from the surrounding ground out of your basement, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of a costly mold infestation taking hold.
Both of these advantages mean lower maintenance costs over the long run as well. Superior insulating qualities will help you to cut your overall energy bills and moisture control can help save you from expensive mold remediation in the future.
How Are Insulated Concrete Forms Used?
Unlike traditional poured concrete basements, ICF construction is fairly straightforward with fewer opportunities for installation mistakes that can be costly in the future. The forms are specifically designed so that they can be horizontally attached and vertically stacked. Once the walls have been established and secured, concrete is poured into the forms and the blocks themselves remain as a permanent part of the structure.
This relatively simple installation process saves time and money, allowing you to move onto the next step of your home's construction much more quickly.
For more information on ICFs, visit a website like https://www.hanoverconcrete.com/.