Foam Forms

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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One modern building system that has emerged in the last 30 years is a system of using foam forms to cast concrete. Called ICFs (insulated concrete forms), they have been steadily gaining popularity in residential projects across the country. Foam forms are easy to handle, cost effective, and provide many advantages over traditional building materials.

One of the most attractive points of foam forms is their high R-value (R-values describe a material's thermal insulation properties). The sandwich of foam-concrete-foam that is created with ICFs can rate as high as R-40, compared to traditional wood framing, which averages around R-20. ICFs also function as relatively effective soundproofing, are airtight, and have a fire rating of around 3 hours.

Building with foam forms can be accomplished by anyone with a little bit of experience working with concrete. ICFs stack easily to create entire walls, sometimes running from the bottom of the foundation all the way to the rafters. Reinforced with a touch of steel and rebar, they protect freshly poured concrete until it has a chance to completely dry and reach its full structural strength.

Different Varieties of Foam Forms

Foam forms are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and types. Block forms fit together like bricks, plank forms stack on top of one another, and panel forms cover entire four by eight foot areas. Different ICF systems create either flat walls (similar to traditional walls), grid walls, which use a waffle pattern, or post-and-beam walls, which create concrete posts separated by thick foam spacers.

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