Stay Up-to-Date on Insulated Concrete Forms with Fox Blocks

Using Fox Blocks’ Online Estimator for Your Next ICF Project

| Building Tips Using ICFs | December 6, 2012

We know estimating for an ICF project can be daunting if you don’t know where to start, so we’ve created this helpful video tutorial to walk you through our Online Insulated Concrete Form Estimator. Feel empowered to take charge of your project! That being said, we are still available to chat with if you’d rather go that route. Check out our Contact page to find your regional rep!

Technical Bulletin Resources mentioned in the video

Find more resources in our Resource Center!

How to Layout Scaffold on Fox Blocks’ Insulated Concrete Form Walls

| Building Tips Using ICFs | November 30, 2012

When you’re building with insulated concrete forms, chances are you’re going to need to set up scaffolding. Learn from the experts at Fox Blocks how to do this efficiently and safely for your next icf project.

Energy Stick Facts

| Building Tips Using ICFs | November 1, 2012

  • Base

    The bottom of each Energy Stick has been shaped to insert into the top of the previous Energy Stick. The projection is 1/2” which is the same
    height as the projections on the block. This way if the projection is left on the bottom of row one, the Energy stick will rest on the footing or slab.

  • Top

    The top of each Energy Stick has a recess to accept the bottom of the next Energy Stick. This eliminates movement during concrete placement.

  • Connection

    The top of every Energy Stick has been designed to fit snug between the ties. The lower 18” has been designed to slide into the block loosely to increase production and then guide itself to connect to the top of the previous Energy Stick.

  • Shoulder

    Every Energy Stick has a specially designed shoulder as a stop to ensure every Energy Stick locks into the proper location.

  • Fox 1440

    The Energy Sticks have been designed to work well in the solid Fox Blocks line as well as the 1440 line.

  • R-Value

    Each Energy Stick layer will add R-9 to the wall. You can insert the energy stick on one or two faces to achieve the R-value desired. As an example you could add three Energy Stick layers into the 12” block giving as much as R- 48+ with 6” of concrete!

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The Fox Blocks Energy Stick

| Building Tips Using ICFs | October 15, 2012

Energy-StickHow do you improve an Insulated Concrete Form wall that already out-performs most wall systems in all climates? You move the concrete mass toward the living side of the wall. This unbalanced R-value will allow the mass to be closer to the living temperature of the conditioned space allowing for a more comfortable building.

The Fox Blocks design team had three goals:

  1. Move the mass away from the harsh temperatures;
  2. Increase R-value; and
  3. Build in reflective insulation.

Each stick is 8” wide, 32” tall, 2” thick and profiled to fit within all Fox Blocks. The reflective graphite coated Expanded Polystyrene is used to ensure an R-9 boost to the already high R-value of the Fox Blocks.

How to Use:

  1. Installation:

    Simply insert the patent pending Energy Sticks between the plastic ties and to the outside face of wall after every two rows of blocks have been placed.

  2. Corner Blocks:

    Fox Block corners are naturally thicker eliminating the need to insert Energy Sticks from the corner tie on. From the last straight tie to the corner tie you will need to wedge the Energy stick in place. A spot of expanding foam will also help to secure the Energy Stick from movement.

  3. Openings/Stacked Seams:

    Simply cut the Energy Stick to fit in locations that are narrower than 8”. When larger than 8” use expanding foam to hold cut Energy Sticks.

  4. Range of Use:

    Simply cut the Energy Stick to fit in locations that are narrower than 8”. When larger than 8” use expanding foam to hold cut Energy Sticks.

  5. Estimating:

    - 3 Energy Sticks for every block ordered.
    - One box = 36 Energy Sticks.
    - One box of Energy Sticks will fill 12 blocks

  6. Man Hours:

    Allow 4 minutes per box when inserting for the first time (= 950 square feet of wall per hour or .001 man hours per square foot)

  7. Bundle Sizes:

    Each box of 36 Energy Sticks = approximately 24” x 24” x 33”

Sizing and Actual R-Value

6” Block + 1 Energy Stick (R-30+*) = 4” Concrete
8” Block + 1 Energy Stick (R-30+*) = 6” Concrete
10” Block + 1 Energy Stick (R-30+*) = 8” Concrete
10” Block + 2 Energy Sticks (R-39+*) = 6” Concrete
12” Block + 1 Energy Stick (R-30+*) = 10” Concrete
12” Block + 2 Energy Sticks (R-39+*) = 8” Concrete
12” Block + 3 Energy Sticks (R-48+*) = 6” Concrete

* This represents the overall average wall R-value. As an example in wood frame construction a wall with R-19 bat insulation will have an overall average wall R-value of less than R-16 due to thermal bridging.

Download the Tech Doc

Three Key Areas give You the True Accurate Cost of the ICF you Choose

| Building Tips Using ICFs | September 11, 2012

Insulated Concrete Forms

Insulated Concrete Form prior to cement pour

Calculating the true cost of installing ICF blocks means that you have to consider everything included- which may not be apparent at first.  Fox Blocks provides customers with tools that can be used to produce a realistic estimate that homeowners and contractors can take to the bank.  Check out our three tips below and download our Man Hour Rate Sheet for your next ICF project.

  1. ICF Block Cost. Most ICF’s fall to within $0.10 per square foot of each other in block cost which is a minor portion of the overall cost of the wall construction. You must get All-In landed ICF System cost to accurately compare.
  2. Ancillary Product Cost. Add in all ancillary products cost not in the block quote. A common example is most ICF’s require internal truss wire to give needed strength to the system. Know what’s required within system install guidelines to produce a straight wall. See other side for examples that will Save You Time & $$$$ on your next job.
  3. Man Hour Rate to Install. Eliminating tasks will shave hours/days off the project. Installation labor is the largest portion of overall ICF cost. Seek full disclosure on man hour rates to install the ICF system you are considering. Listening to experienced installing contractors and have gained an understanding of what ICF product attributes can make the difference between a streamlined, profitable job and one that is not.  Fox Blocks offers a Man Hour Rate Sheet on our website.

Truss wire – Do we need it?

| Building Tips Using ICFs | March 3, 2011

Eliminate Truss WiresI was a believer in using truss wire when installing other ICF’s but now that I’m using the Fox Blocks ICF I have been convinced by contractors that it is not necessary.

In 1994 I started installing ICF’s full time. After several hundred successful jobs I was told I should try using truss wire in the walls. The truss wire helped and I was sold on the benefit it gave me to help straighten walls after concrete placement. I installed several different ICF brands and the truss wire installed in the second and top rows helped keep the walls straight, so we inserted it into every training program we developed. In the ICF’s of that era I would not install a job without truss wire.

In 2010 I joined the Fox Blocks team specifically because this new ICF has everything I have been asking for and more. I’ve been caught smiling a lot lately as I find new benefits that had not occurred to me prior to using this new ICF. A few months back several different contractors were telling me that they had stopped using truss wire with Fox Blocks because it is not necessary. I was skeptical so we started to experiment on the jobs we worked on as well as asking select contractors to join us on this experiment. To our surprise we came to realize that the truss wire did not make much difference with the Fox Blocks.

The 2” long interlock of the Fox Block gives incredible holding power in all directions, and to my surprise, eliminates the need for truss wire. For this reason we have decided to eliminate it from our product offering which will save $$$ on your jobs. Just think of the added benefits you gain over your competitors when you do not need the added cost of truss wire due to the design of this new Fox Block ICF. Not using the truss wire will also give you better concrete flow and lower man hour rates.

Keep watching in the months to come for new products our R&D team has been testing and perfecting. These really are exciting days in the ICF industry!


Glen’s Contractor Tip Corner: Short Jogs

| Building Tips Using ICFs | February 8, 2011

I had a call this week from a contractor who wanted to know if there was an easy way to build a two foot jog into a wall. This brought back flashbacks of when I used to attempt to interlock corners thinking the strength of the interlock was going to hold things together during concrete placement.

One of my life lessons came from a time when I worked for a very large cement and concrete company, which in fact was the largest cement producer world wide at the time. This was a major shift for me because I’m a licensed wood guy. What I learned was that in spite of being in the cement and concrete business for generations they were constantly learning. I remember contests to see who could create the highest strength concrete in the shortest time, and I was amazed what they would experiment with to achieve unbelievably high numbers.

New products come to us constantly within this industry, such as concrete that can now be pervious, water proof, self consolidating, high slump etc. The lesson I took with me was that you may have the best way to do things today but they are not sustainable, and if you don’t continue research and development you will be passed by those who do.

When I left my cement/concrete supplier job, I joined a company called Blue Maxx and had the privilege to work along side a legend in the ICF industry. In spite of his reputation, he would constantly tell me that he was not all that good and that his success came from the contractors who were doing the work. Simply put, contractors would tell him of how they build and he would listen. The lesson I took with me from him was that things change and when a contractor has an idea I need to listen because it may be the next great idea.

So how would I do a two foot jog? I have a choice to spend a long time cutting and fitting that corner to look good or spend a short time just creating a common seam and strapping it. Bottom line, the day after concrete placement both methods will look great but the one that takes shorter time is more profitable. I learned this from contractors who are building their ICF jobs from each corner to a center point in the wall and creating a common seam which they strap prior to concrete. Now, If it takes me more than a few minutes to attempt to make block coursing work I will not hesitate to create a common seam if it makes sense for the job.

Remember, at the end of your job you need to make a profit. Work smart, control your man hour rate and you will join the many ICF crews that have become profitable in our industry.


Glen’s Contractor Tip Corner

| Building Tips Using ICFs | January 8, 2011

Whenever possible I head out for an early morning walk with two objectives, to let my wife think I’m walking for my health and to get to the Starbucks that is 10 minutes from my home. Health experts agree that we need to walk 30 minutes each day for our health, so I walk really slow.

It’s already fall and just above freezing temperature; as I head out for my 6 am walk I can see my warm breath in the cool air. This puts a smile on my face as I think of all the conventional concrete guys who will soon realize how much better they will be to use ICF’s for their jobs. In cold or hot weather ICF’s hug the concrete and protect it from the outside temperatures. I make a mental note to start promoting this to the conventional guys.

I can remember being in Cave Creek, AZ, where a condo complex was being built and temperatures were 112°F at 7:00am. ICF’s were used to help keep the buildings cool but it also protected the concrete as it cured. That morning the Architect was contemplating using wood frame for a different project he was designing so I asked him how these ICF buildings were performing in the hot weather. He started to explain how amazed he was that even before the utilities are hooked up all the workers headed inside them at break time because they stayed cool on those hot days. I just smiled as he realized what he had just said. The next building he designed was ICF.

Anyway, here I am up north thinking it will soon be -40°F and I’m still living here. If anyone is actually reading this I would encourage you to come and experience -40°F with me. The thrill of attempting to run to your car before freezing to death only to find that it will not start because you forgot to plug it in. This is one reason we love the north, with these thoughts my heart is up to about 90 BPM as if I just walked 30 minutes!  Some day, if I can think of it, I’ll let you know the other reason.