Utilizing Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) for Construction in Wyoming
Wyoming is a beautiful state that is known for its gorgeous landscapes and wide open spaces. Wyoming actually boasts some of the lowest losses of life and property due to severe weather in the entire country. While it may seem like severe weather isn’t a concern for people in Wyoming, much of those low rates are due to the state’s very low population density.
Due to severe weather and frigidly cold winters, insulated concrete form (ICF) construction has been steadily increasing in Wyoming and is expected to continue. ICF construction provides levels of energy efficiency and security from severe weather that can be difficult to do economically using other conventional building methods.
What Are Insulated Concrete Forms?
ICF blocks consist of two panels of high performance foam insulation, held together with special ties. The blocks are stacked together on the job site to build the home’s walls. After the blocks are assembled, rebar is added to the empty space in the blocks and then concrete is poured into them. Once the concrete has set, the resulting structure is an incredibly strong, steel reinforced wall with both interior and exterior layers of high performance insulation.
Benefits of ICF Construction
ICF construction has many advantages over stick built construction. ICF homes provide benefits especially important for residents of Wyoming. Some of the benefits to both homeowners and builders are:
Fast and easy installation, requiring less labor
High energy efficiency and thermal comfort
Lower maintenance and repair costs
Fire and severe weather resistance
Five Advantages of ICF Construction in Wyoming
Fox Blocks ICFs create energy-efficient, long-lasting, strong, disaster-resistant, healthy, and sound-proof homes. Important to builders, and readily available, ICF homes assemble quickly with less labor than traditional building methods, like wood framing.
1. Energy Efficiency
In January, Wyoming temperatures often drop below 10° F (-12.2° C) and as low as -5° F (-20.6° C) in the western valleys. The semi-arid and continental nature of Wyoming’s climate leads to drier and windier conditions with greater temperature extremes.
Summer nights in Wyoming are characterized by a rapid cooldown in even the hottest locations. Building affordable homes that protect families against the intense and rapidly changing Wyoming winters requires energy-efficient materials, like Fox Blocks ICFs.
The high-thermal mass of Fox Blocks ICFs creates homes with tight building envelopes to protect the occupants' health and comfort while also creating houses with manageable energy bills. The thermal mass of all the concrete in the walls dampens down swings in temperature, making the entire home feel more comfortable and reducing the load on your home’s HVAC system. In addition, ICF above- and below-grade wall systems provide continuous insulation (CI) that minimizes thermal bridging and heat loss in order to keep the house warm and dry.
The exceptional R-value (R-value of 23) locks the heat inside the home, even on the most frigid of winter nights. The natural lack of thermal bridging not only reduces the load on the home’s furnace but also prevents condensation related issues that can occur with conventional construction methods.
Fox Blocks manufactures ICFs with two 2 ⅝" thick, Type II expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation panels. EPS insulation creates wall systems with long-term thermal resistance, compared to XPS and Polyiso insulations (both lose R-value over time). As a result, Fox Blocks surpasses all climate zones' ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code mandates.
2. Less Maintenance, More Durability
Naturally moisture and termite-resistant, ICF construction results in superior structures. With proper water drainage, ICF homes are more durable and cost less to maintain. Solid continuous monolithic concrete ICF walls, with a perm rating of less than 1.0, will stop warm, moist indoor air infiltration into the cold cavities in the exterior walls. ICFs also allow moisture that accumulates in the wall system to evaporate, and prevents the growth of structurally damaging mold, rot, and mildew.
ICF creates a superior termite-resistant wall system for termite-prone Wyoming. While many types of termites do not thrive in Wyoming’s weather, there are some species that unfortunately do. ICFs lack the organic material that termites eat, making them less prone to termites than wood. Fox Blocks recommends Polyguard Products, Inc. 650 XTM or 650 XTP waterproofing membranes for added termite protection.
ICF blocks provide a curing environment for concrete walls, resulting in concrete with about twice the compressive strength of poured concrete, which is vital for Wyoming foundations.
Research comparing ICF walls, wood, and steel-framed walls’ resistance to sideward or lateral forces (racking) concluded that ICF walls provide significantly higher structural capacity and stiffness to resist the in-plane shear forces than wood or steel frame walls.
Continuous double insulation layers of an ICF allows for concrete placement in cold weather, extending the building season to be year round.
3. Fire and Disaster Resistance
Fox Blocks ICF wall systems protect homes from fierce storms and tornadoes. Concrete is naturally fire-resistant, making ICF homes a great choice for defending against an increase in wildfires. In 2021, Wyoming experienced multiple major wildfires including those in the Big Horn Mountains.
Fast and easy to install, Fox Blocks ICFs create a strong exterior wall system for combating the increasingly severe wind storms in Wyoming.
Fox Blocks ICFs can withstand winds greater than 200 mph and projectile debris traveling over 100 mph, to provide more protection against extreme wind events and flying debris than steel and wood framing. Fox Blocks has passed the Impact Missile Testing to be compliant to ICC 500 and FEMA P-361. Fox Blocks are so strong that they can be used to build storm shelters.
The increasing threat of wildfires in Wyoming demands fire-resistant products in all new construction. Vital components of fire-resistant construction include passive fire protection with fireproof roofs, windows, doors, vents, and exterior walls built with Fox Blocks ICF wall systems.
Passive fire protection guards the occupants of a house and protects the home by controlling the spread of smoke and fire. Fire-resistant Fox Blocks achieve a fire-resistance rating (ASTM E119) of 4 hours for the 6-inch blocks and 2 hours for the 4-inch blocks.
4. Better Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)
In a beautiful state like Wyoming, you want to enjoy the clean, fresh air. ICF homes help keep your indoor air clean too. ICF construction releases fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than other construction types. According to the EPA, VOCs can lead to severe health effects including headaches, liver and kidney damage, cancer, and more.
The Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) found that nearly half of American homeowners want healthy-home features. In addition, 83 percent of remodelers and home builders believe consumers will pay more for a healthier home through controlling moisture, optimizing acoustic performance, avoiding products with VOCs, proper ventilation, and maximizing daylighting:
The thick concrete walls offer another advantage too. ICF homes are naturally soundproof, with the concrete walls blocking out many of the noises from the home’s exterior. Fox Blocks achieve a Sound Transmission Classification (ASTM E90) of 4-inch=STC 46, 6- and 8-inch = STC 50+. Sound transmission tests found that less than a third of sound passes through ICF walls than fiber insulation-filled wood-frame walls.
Concrete is also naturally mold resistant. Fox Blocks solid continuous monolithic concrete walls have a perm rating of less than 1.0, which controls moisture intrusion and stops the growth of unhealthy mold. All around, ICF construction helps to keep your home happier and healthier.
5. Fast Build Times
With the weather in Wyoming, the times of year to do construction can be pretty limited. Luckily, ICF construction is not only economical, but fast too. ICF homes avoid many of the labor and material shortages that other projects face, saving the builder and homeowner from many headaches.
In 2021, 62 percent of contractors reported problems in recruiting skilled labor. In addition, 95 percent of contractors reported at least one product shortage.
Fortunately, Fox Blocks has the solutions to labor shortages and material shortages: modular construction, innovative and cost-efficient material, and an extensive BIM library.
Fox Blocks' modular construction is an all-in-one, above- and below-grade wall assembly that combines five steps: structure, air barrier, insulation, vapor retarder, and attachment. The system reduces the need for additional skilled labor and quickens completion timelines.
The Fox Blocks website offers architects and builders a complete resource CAD and BIM library on the product line, code evaluations, testing, and building science attributes, to expedite the design and build process. BIM minimizes C and D waste, material requirements, and cost overruns by improving the quality and accuracy of design and construction. In addition, BIM will review your current supply chain, identify your inefficiencies in under or over-ordering, and permit you to estimate material expenses more accurately.
Fox Blocks has a full library of extensive online training courses and videos, in the Integrated Learning Center on the website.
Choose Fox Blocks ICF Construction in Wyoming
Fox Blocks ICF construction provides a superior wall system rather than other building methods, like wood and steel. Energy-efficient and healthy Fox Block’s ICFs create warm homes with manageable energy bills. Furthermore, ICF homes will withstand severe storms, winds, and resist damaging moisture and termites. ICFs require less labor and shorten project delivery time, which is vital for today's builders who are often challenged by labor and material shortages.