Everyone needs somewhere to live, and for many millennia, houses and other residential buildings have been built around the world. Many different construction methods and materials have been used for housing, and today, light construction materials are often most popular for making houses. Modern standards call for light construction materials that are tough and well insulated, and in some parts of the United States, certain hazards will be prepared for. What are some of these light construction materials? Sometimes, a light but tough metal roof may be installed on the house, and other times, the walls will be made from ICF bricks (insulated concrete forms). Among all light construction materials, metal roofs and ICF blocks have proven their worth in countless completed homes, so modern construction crews may keep these light construction materials in mind. What is there to know about ICF blocks?
The Nature of ICFs
First invented by a Canadian contractor named Werner Gregori in 1966, insulated concrete forms, or ICFs, have proven themselves popular and effective as building materials. What exactly are these light construction materials? They are concrete blocks, often measuring 10 inches in width, that have a large hollow space in them. These blocks can be quickly and seamlessly stacked into walls, and they can be trimmed so that walls can meet neatly at the corners. These blocks have been in use for around 60 years now, and they can make for quick and efficient work. In fact, using ICF systems may cut the final costs of a property by as much as $0.75 per square foot, and at no loss of building quality. And when enough of these blocks are assembled into walls, they create large hollow spaces inside the walls, but at no compromise of structural integrity. How can this hollow space be used?
It should be first noted that homes build with ICF bricks are often tougher than homes built with traditional method such as brick and wood. A building made out of ICFs may e expected to be six to nine times stronger than a regular home, and this can be a real boon in areas prone to storms such as tornadoes or hurricanes. Even if these blocks are hollow, they are made with concrete and fit together seamlessly, making for tough walls.
ICFs are durable, but the advantages do not stop there. They are hollow for a good reason: space for insulation and utilities. Solid concrete walls cannot have pipes, electrical wires, or insulation foam put in them, but ICF blocks can accommodate them without any trouble. All of this hollow space means that ICF walls can hold a lot of insulation foam in them, and this can help a house maintain its internal climate control. After all, homes tend to leak warm air in winter and cool air in summer, and this is both uncomfortable for the homeowner and also drives up the electric bill. An average American house uses around 56% of its electricity for heating and cooling, so if this system is inefficient, this can drive up the electric bill fast. In a drafty home, the HVAC system is forced to work overtime to make up for this constant loss of cool or warm air, and extra electricity is being used the entire time.
Proper insulation the walls and attic, and draft-proof windows and doors, can put a stop to that waste. In particular, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has determined that ICF walls, and their generous insulation inside, can help cut costs of heating and cooling by as much as 20-25%. This adds up to a lot of saved money over time, and it shows that ICF walls can be a great investment. And if a homeowner has a properly insulated roof and protected windows, the climate control is in fine shape.
Metal roofs, meanwhile, can also be lightweight but tough, and they are resistant to a lot of the wear and tear that affect slate or shingle roofs. Metal roofs may last for a long time, and they can often endure very strong winds that would blast off regular roofs. This makes them, like ICF walls, ideal for homes exposed to hurricane or tornado winds.