Why ICFs? (And what *are* ICFs?)

(… and what’s wrong with good old-fashioned wood anyway?)

So, you may be asking yourself: what the heck are these ICF thingys and what are the benefits of using them?

See? Doesn't look like a concrete bunker at all! (And the page I stole this from has some good stuff about ICFs and their insulating properties).

See? Doesn’t look like a concrete bunker at all! (And the page I stole this from has some good stuff about ICFs and their insulating properties).

Okay, so it’s really simple – ICF stands for Insulated Concrete Forms, and they’re like big legos for adults. They’re made of 2 polystyrene (think styrofoam) boards held together by plastic, and they stack easily together to create hollow walls. These walls are then filled with poured cement, and voila! you have an insulated concrete house that can be finished to look like pretty much any other building on the market (don’t picture Soviet Russia here – it doesn’t wind up looking like a concrete bunker, unless of course you WANT it to).

ICFs are, as I already mentioned, super insulated, due to the polystyrene the blocks are made out of. This means heating and cooling costs go way down (go green!) and it’s a lot cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Speaking of saving money, ICFs are (supposedly anyway) very easy to work with – again, think legos for adults – and my husband and I are REALLY excited to do as much of the work as possible ourselves. Will we need help with things like digging the foundation and pouring the concrete? Yeah, probably. But laying out and putting up the walls, we’ll be all over that, no additional work crew needed (edit: this does not include any close and dearly loved family members who will be conscripted politely requested to help us out here).

Another bonus? The insides of ICF homes are nice and quiet because of the thickness of the walls. This is a particularly good thing for us, because our lot is beside a county highway, and I’m not a big fan of hearing traffic go by 24/7!

Also, not that it’s really a concern in our area, but all that concrete pretty much makes these houses hurricane proof. Hundred-mile-an-hour winds? Not a problem, these walls will stay standin’. The Third Little Piggy would approve.

The Husband: “Nice post! Though I don’t know if it will convince all the unbelievers — like your uncle [he’s a carpenter]. He thinks that building with anything other than sticks is eccentric and unnecessary and will end in tears. Except you shouldn’t write that because one day he will come across this blog and then I will be in trouble.”

7 thoughts on “Why ICFs? (And what *are* ICFs?)

  1. Casey

    The info page you linked to showed a lot of options– definitely does not look like a bunker, but I hope it’s still zombie-proof. Let us know when you need some help and we’ll have a barn-raising kind of shindig!

    1. GraceGrace Post author

      It most certainly will be zombie-proof, at least much more so than your average wooden house- and I forgot to put that in our list of reasons to use ICFs! 😉 We’ll definitely let you know when we could use some help-  “Barn-raising” here we come! 

    1. GraceGrace Post author

      Thanks Oma 🙂 That’ll definitely include you somewhere…besides helping build (if we don’t have you up on the roof whacking thumbs) you can hang out with Baby! He will love that.

  2. Stefanski

    I’m sure there are a number of willing (and able) bodies across the eastern seaboard who’d want to help with your project! They might be able to take some time off to help, I’d imagine, if there’s a bed and enough lead time!


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