Concrete walls built with insulating concrete
forms effectively buffer a homes interior from the outdoors.
The thick ICF sandwich of a massive material (concrete) with
a light one (foam) sharply cuts fluctuations in temperature,
air infiltration, and noise. They keep the inside of a house
more comfortable and quiet than ordinary wood frame walls.
the greater comfort come from?
ICF walls increase
comfort in three ways:
The continuous layer
of foam insulation along the ICF wall helps keep the temperature
the same everywhere. It virtually eliminates the cold
spots that can occur in frame walls along the studs or
at gaps in the insulation.
The heavy concrete of
the ICF wall gives it the heat-absorbing property of thermal
mass. This smoothes out swings in temperature over time.
So the house does not tend to overheat or get suddenly chilly
as the furnace or air conditioner cycles on and off.
The interlocking foam
faces, sealed with continuous concrete in the center, make ICF
walls exceptionally airtight. So drafts are cut sharply. In
tests, homes built of ICFs had only about one-third to one-half
as much air infiltration as the typical frame house.
like concrete tend to reflect noise:
Compared to a typical
wood frame wall, only about one-quarter to one-eighth as much
sound penetrates through an ICF wall. Scientists would describe
loud speech on the opposite side of a frame wall as "audible,
but not intelligible." On the opposite side of an ICF wall,
a listener would "strain to hear" loud speech. It
would be virtually "inaudible."
I really notice the difference?
ICF homeowners appreciate
these benefits more than they ever imagined.
In a 1997 survey,
interviewers asked owners of 74 new ICF homes and 73 new wood
frame homes what they liked about them. Over 80 percent of the
ICF owners mentioned the great comfort, compared with 22 percent
of the wood frame owners. Typical comments were:
"Its the most comfortable house Ive
ever lived in."
"I didnt know what I was missing until we were
in it for a while.
Over 60 percent of ICF homeowners mentioned
the quietness of their homes, versus only 2 percent of the
wood frame homeowners. The ICF owners told two common stories
over and over again:
"I looked out the window and saw
the traffic on the road, but I couldnt hear it."
"While talking with my neighbor one morning, he asked
if the thunderstorm the night before woke me up, too. But
until that moment I never even realized wed had one."
the bottom line?
When planning a new
house, consider the greater well-being that could come from
living with a more even temperature, sharply reduced drafts,
and noticeably greater quiet. These things are available with
concrete walls built with ICFs. They effectively shelter the
interior environment from the harshness of the outdoors. ICFs
will provide a quiet, comfortable home year round.
Consumption Comparisons of Concrete Homes versus Wood Frame
Homes. Portland Cement Association. 1997.