ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms) are becoming an increasingly popular option for eco-friendly homeowners looking for a major sustainable boost. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, ICF walls can save homeowners 20% to 25% on annual heating and cooling costs, and they have countless other sustainable benefits as well. Of course, as is the case with any large-scale home improvement project, extra care during the installation process is critical to ensure proper use and prolonged durability upon completion. Here are just a few quick ways to stay safe and properly install ICFs in your home’s foundation.
Before you start this lengthy project, it’s important to suit up. Though this project, in particular, isn’t inherently dangerous, it’s always best to cover up with the appropriate protective gear to avoid injury and damage to the material. Since ICF forms are available in various shapes and sizes, those working with larger or heavier forms may feel safer wearing some sort of protective helmet or headgear. Helmet head liners typically only break in about 5%, but you never know when a helmet could protect you from injury in the event of a bizarre accident.Similarly, if you’ll be working outside during the daytime, it’s always important to protect your eyes from the harsh rays of the sun. About 75% of U.S. adults wear Rx or plano sunglasses, and protective eyewear is essential during any activity that involves you being outside for an extended period of time. Once you’re equipped with the proper gear, you’re ready to get started with the challenge of the installation process.
Mark Clearly and Place Forms
Once your building plan is in place, be careful when making your final markings that indicate exactly where you’re building. The layout on the ground should be to full scale to avoid discrepancies with measurements. Chalk powder is a great resource for marking the layout.
Precise measurements are necessary to dig the trenches as well, and they, too, should be according to scale.
“Once you’ve gotten everything marked, you will need to dig trenches for the foundation footings…The trenches should accommodate the insulated concrete forms securely without a lot of room on either side. With the trenches dug you can place the insulated concrete forms in the trenches,” says DoItYourself.
Don’t Rush Cure Time
Finally, once your ICFs are installed properly, they’ll need to cure for a set amount of time, which is usually around 28 days. Though you’re probably eager to continue the installation process, like rewiring, it’s essential to wait the full time to ensure proper adherence and durability. Don’t compromise the structural integrity of your ICFs just because you’re impatient — the wait is 100% worth it for the sustainable benefits.
Ultimately, installing ICF forms is undoubtedly a major home renovation project. Unless you have significant DIY home improvement experience, it’s always best to leave the job to a professional who’s worked with this material before. But as long as you take the proper care and ensure correct installation, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of your home’s new ICF forms for years to come.