Using ICF to Build a Home with Modern Adobe Style Walls


A superb wall assembly for an adobe style home is Fox Block insulated concrete forms (ICFs). Fox Blocks have the design flexibility to create the thick, round-edges common with adobe walls. Also, Fox Blocks produce comfortable, energy-efficient Adobe houses that are disaster-resistant and durable.

What are Traditional Adobe Style Homes?

Traditional adobe style homes, especially those built in the hot Southwest of the United States, pulled their inspiration from the Spanish and Pueblo Missions in New Mexico. The unique architectural components of a traditional adobe style home (large wood doors, ceiling beams, and porch posts with flat or gently sloping roofs with parapets) have prevailed for hundreds of years.

Why is Adobe Construction Well Suited for Hot Climates?

Traditionally adobe construction is well suited for hot climates because the bricks have low thermal conductivity, which ensures the home is cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The light-colored adobe walls reflect and absorb the sun’s energy during the daytime, which keeps the interior of the home cool. During the night, the heat slowly releases from the walls, which warms the home. Furthermore, the home is kept cool during the day by a continuous porch around the home that shades the deep-set, small windows of an adobe house.

Three other benefits of traditional adobe houses are they are naturally fire- and pest-resistant and provide excellent acoustic properties.

The Troubles with Traditional Adobe Homes

A serious problem with traditional adobe homes is that their strength and durability may diminish over time if overexposed to water, either from rain or the water content in the brick. Too much water will weaken adobe brick, which impacts the integrity of the home and makes it prone to damage, particularly during strong wind events.

The Benefits of Building a Modern Adobe Style Home with Fox Blocks ICF Walls

Building a modern adobe style home (sometimes called Pueblo Revival) with Fox Blocks ICFs has all the benefits of traditional adobe homes - design flexibility, good acoustics, energy-efficiency, pest-resistance, and fire-resistance. However, Fox Blocks have several added advantages, including speed of construction, moisture and wind-resistance, which ensures durability and resiliency.

Fox Blocks are Durable

Fox Blocks are less prone to termites than other building products, like wood, because they lack organic material, which termites eat. However, Fox Blocks recommends Polyguard Products, Inc. 650 XTM or 650 XTP membranes for below grade waterproofing and termite protection.

Fox Blocks controls moisture accumulation within the wall system of an adobe style home. Moisture can lead to the growth of mold and rot, which degrades the integrity of a building. Fox Blocks do not promote mold, mildew or rot.

Fox Blocks are Wind-Resistant

Adobe homes constructed with Fox Blocks ICFs maintain their integrity during severe winds of over 200 mph and resist projectile debris flying over 100 mph. Importantly, a report by the Portland Cement Association (PCA) found that ICF wall systems have more structural capacity and stiffness to bear the in-plane shear loads of strong wind than wood- and steel-framed walls. Also, the strength of insulated concrete walls lessens the lateral twists and damage to non-structural elements.

Fox Blocks are Adaptable to Adobe Home Design

Fox Blocks are simple to shape and cut and have the flexibility and strength to accommodate adobe architectural styles and designs.

Fox Blocks Provide Excellent Acoustics

Fox Blocks wall systems for an adobe home provide excellent acoustics with a high ASTM E90 Sound Transmission Classification (STC) rating of more than 50.

Fox Blocks are Energy-Efficient

Fox Blocks create a natural airtight building envelope for an energy-efficient adobe style home. Fox Blocks are a high thermal mass material that provides continuous insulation and an R-value of 23. Fox Blocks’ solid continuous monolithic concrete wall has a vapor permeance rating of less than 1.0 that prevents moisture accumulation within the wall system.

Fox Blocks are Fire-Resistant

Fox Blocks ICF provide passive fire protection for the walls of an adobe style home wall system. Fox Blocks have a fire-resistance ASTM E119 rating of two-hours for the four-inch blocks and four-hours for the six-inch blocks, and ASTM E84 reported values for flame speed of less than 25, and smoke development of less than 450.

A superior wall system for a modern adobe style home is the Fox Blocks ICFs. The design flexibility of Fox Blocks can easily enhance an adobe style home that is comfortable, energy-efficient, disaster-resistant, and durable.