Concrete Wall Forms

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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Over the last 50 years, the types of concrete wall forms that are commonly used in the construction of houses have undergone some radical changes. In the past, builders and engineers used the same materials for building houses with concrete as they used for building other things with concrete. As materials evolve, though, some builders are beginning to see concrete as being able to fulfill more of its potential for residential projects.

In particular, builders are finding new ways to exploit concrete's soundproofing and insulating qualities. New kinds of concrete wall forms, called insulated concrete forms, use thick foam as both the form for the concrete and a permanent layer of insulation. The foam is commonly two to three inches thick, and comes in two parallel strips that hold the concrete between them during installation.

Insulated Concrete Wall Forms

The parallel pieces of the insulated concrete wall forms come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most come in interlocking blocks that fit together in a similar fashion as Legos fit together. Some come in long strips that can be cut to size, and others are full four foot by eight-foot panels. Many different brands of ICFs share the same kind of interlocking device on the top face of the form--little protrusions that fit into the bottom of the next form.

Concrete walls with the foam insulation on either side have significantly higher strength, soundproofing, and energy-saving ratings than normal wood construction. Though the ICFs differ from brand to brand, many require little finishing work, especially on the inside. In many cases, drywall isn't even necessary to finish the interior walls, as a good coat of plaster will do the trick.

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