ICF vs Superior Walls: Making the Best Choice

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Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICFs) and Superior Walls both create disaster-resistance and non-toxic wall systems. They also can claim quick and easy installation of their products. However, Fox Blocks have several advantages over Superior Walls. Fox Blocks are more energy-efficient, and moisture- and fire- resistant than Superior Walls.

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Superior Walls - Insulated Precast Concrete Panels

Superior Walls


What are Superior Walls?

Superior Walls are insulated precast concrete panels used for a basement foundation, crawl space foundation, above-grade walls, and multi-level concrete walls.

Manufacturing of Superior Walls occurs in a factory. The walls are pre-insulated with 1-inch DOW Styrofoam, with an R-5 rating. The casting of the steel reinforced horizontal layer of the concrete beam and 2-inch-thick concrete facing is in one continuous pour at the factory.

Increasing the Superior Wall’s R-value, up to R-26, is done by adding insulation to the 7-1/2-inch-deep wall cavity between the studs. A triple bead of Bostik Chem-Caulk provides a watertight sealant at the panel seams. A 4-inch perforated drain pipe is set 12-inches from the precast wall to channel water away from the foundation. Panels are typically 16 feet long with standard heights of 4-foot, 4-foot 8 inches, 8-foot 2-inches, 9-foot, and 10-foot.

Problems with Superior Walls

It is vital that builders are aware of several problems associated with superior wall systems, also known as insulated precast concrete panels. Superior Walls lack moisture and fire-resistance and may require regular maintenance.

Moisture Problems with Superior Walls

Moisture may enter a superior wall system through improper detailing or cracks in the panel that can occur during the cooling and drying after the curing process. Both cases can cause widespread water problems due to condensation forming within the wall construction.

What is Condensation?

Condensation occurs when warm air, from either the inside or outside of the building, travels towards the cooler interior wall system. Condensation in the wall assembly also occurs when water vapor flows from an area of higher concentration towards an area of lower concentration. Finally, condensation may occur on the wall elements (windows, curtain wall, or metal framing components) if they are not adequating separated or insulated from the precast panels.

Moisture can cause substantial damage to finish materials and can corrode and deteriorate the metal components, such as structural connections and metal wall framing. In addition, moisture may result in mold and mildew, which is unhealthy to the occupants of a building and can cause wood rot.

Superior Walls Problems with Thermal Performance

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Precast wall panels derive their thermal performance characteristics mainly from the amount of insulation placed in the cavity or within the backup wall. The Superior Walls have R values of 5 and 12.5. However, additional insulation may be placed in the extra cavity space so that the walls can achieve R values of over 50.

Routine Maintenance Required for Superior Walls

If a sealer or concrete coating is used on the precast concrete panels for aesthetics or to reduce moisture penetration into the panel, the sealer or coating will require reapplication. The time frame for reapplication of the sealant and surface protection systems varies but typically is needed every 7 to 20 years.

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Fox Blocks provide a solution to the problems associated with Superior Walls. Fox Blocks are more energy-efficient and moisture-, and fire-resistant than Superior Walls. Also, Fox Blocks are disaster-resistant, noise reducing, and healthy. Notably, Fox Blocks are easy to install, which saves time and money.

Fox Blocks are More Energy-Efficient than Superior Walls

Fox Blocks are more energy-efficient that Superior Walls. Fox Blocks are a high thermal mass product that provides continuous insulation and an R-value of 23+. Superior Walls has R values of only 5 and 12.5 without additional insulation.

Fox Blocks are More Moisture-Resistant than Superior Walls

Fox Blocks also produce a solid continuous monolithic concrete jointless wall with a perm rating of less than 1.0, which controls moisture infiltration. Moreover, Fox Blocks two layers of continuous interior and exterior EPS insulation give added protection against water intrusion. Together, the EPS and concrete create air and vapor barriers on both sides of the Fox Wall, which more efficiently stops condensation and moisture accumulation than Superior Walls.

Fox Blocks are More Fire-Resistant than Superior Walls

A premium product for a fire-resistant construction is Fox Blocks ICF. Fox Blocks’ fire-resistance rating is (ASTM E119) 2 hours for the 4-inch blocks and 4 hours for the 6-inch blocks. Also, Fox Blocks have ASTM E84 value for smoke development of less than 450 and flame speed of less than 25.

For more information on ICF vs. superior walls, please visit Fox Blocks.