The United States has experienced a dramatic rise in the number of natural disasters. The latest disaster in California, ‘Camp Fire’ resulted in the loss of 85 civilian lives along with 18,804 buildings that were turned to dust.
Such widespread destruction is likely to occur again, with wildfires expected to increase in 2019. The whole country has been left pondering – how do you save your home from such unpredictable and disastrous tragedies? The answer is quite simple; by ensuring maximum protection and strength when building your homes – insulated concrete walls.
What Are Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs)?
Insulated Concrete Forms is a construction technique which expands on the concrete forms for sale by making use of hollow foam blocks that are built into the shape of exterior walls of a building and further strengthened with steel rebar – before finally being filled with concrete.
ICFs are increasingly popular because of the fact that they combine the finest insulating material, Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) with the strongest structural element, steel reinforced concrete.
The resulting wall is a perfect blend of strength coupled with unparalleled comfort and efficiency. ICF walls have been known to withstand hurricanes, earthquakes, and even wildfires.
How Can ICFs Protect Against Wildfires?
Unlike conventional home building methods like wood-framed walls, Insulated Concrete Forms are tested and verified for their endurance, strength, and security.
In the instance of a wildfire sweeping across the land, ICF walls hold significant advantage above wood-framed walls. Wood burns as opposed to concrete that is not flammable.
Insulated concrete forms walls have a 4-hour fire rating – meaning they can withstand a wildfire for 4 hours – long before help arrives. On the contrary, wood-frames have a fire rating of only 15 minutes.
Insulated concrete walls have been tested for temperatures reaching up to 2000° Fahrenheit for four hours, without experiencing structural damage, whereas wood-frames collapsed within an hour.
Additionally, steel beams bend when it gets hot and can lead to structural damage. However, concrete does not catch fire – eliminating any chance of an electrical fire being concealed behind the walls. Structures made using insulated concrete forms prevent the fire from reaching the interior of the structure, possibly safeguarding assets inside your home.
Concrete walls, reinforced with steel, block the path of the fire inside the structure for up to four hours as opposed to wood-frame walls that can only do so for an hour.
It’s Not Just Walls
Insulated concrete forms are not only used to make walls, but they can also be used to build an overall safer and stronger structure even able to withstand some hurricane force winds.
ICF Window and Door Bucks: An ICF system that includes a foam buck provides insulation around openings, such as windows and doors. This provides a barrier against air and moisture puncture, adding more wildfire resistance.
ICF Floors and Roof: A reinforced roof can be extremely wildfire resistant – acting as the perfect lid. Not only will a steel roof prevent possible fires but can also act as an excellent insulator and keep your heating or cooling costs low.
How Do ICFs Work?
Generally, an insulated concrete form wall features a solid, steel-reinforced concrete wall which is placed in the center of two thick panels of dense EPS foam on each side.
While the solid concrete wall is the barrier against any potential threat that may damage the structure, it also extremely helpful in temperature maintenance throughout the year, along with the thick foam layer.
The thermal inertia of the concrete core is its biggest advantage, as the density and weight of the concrete resist any change, and help stabilize the temperature. By not letting heat or cold escape through the structure, ICFs manage to form a very energy efficient and therefore, cost-efficient structure.
Coupled with the dense EPS insulation foam fitted on both sides, an insulated concrete foam wall negates the effect of exterior temperature changes on the interior temperature – requiring only a few degrees to be changed according to the weather.
Benefits Of Insulated Concrete Form Structures
When building a new home, people look to build a comfortable and durable structure that provides shelters for years to come. With an insulated concrete form structure, you get all of that and beyond.
Indoor air quality is a very important factor when maintaining a healthy environment, and ICFs greatly assist in maintaining indoor air quality. Insulated concrete form walls provide a firm exterior that is structurally tight and reduces air infiltration by 75%.
Moreover, the lesser the air infiltration, the lesser the dust mites entering the structure. ICF walls are particularly great for people who suffer from hay fever, asthma, or other airborne allergies as they face less dust, pollen, and other pollutants.
Living in a populous area or a busy street can expose you to a lot of outside noise. A firm, dense structure can shield people living inside by not providing sound the medium to travel through.
Insulating concrete form walls provide uninterrupted peace and true protection from outdoor noise. ICF walls allow only one third as much sound as conventional structure frames, making ICF a great innovation in concrete forms.