What is ICF Construction?
Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF) is a construction system that uses polystyrene block components stacked together to provide a formwork system. This formwork is then filled with concrete to provide a solid wall. Insulated concrete formwork is an alternative build method to traditional brick and block or timber frame construction.
ICF was first developed in the 1970s in Germany and has been successfully used all over the world, from the hottest to the coldest climates. The system is particularly popular in North America, where there are over a dozen substantial manufacturers building a combined total of around 15,000 homes a year. It is recognised in America as the most superior and strongest way to build and as such attracts lower insurance premiums.
Uptake in the UK has been relatively slow, largely because of our strong masonry build sector and perhaps our “unwillingness” to try something new! The British ICF market is growing in the UK particularly with the emerging requirement for more “energy efficient” homes. And the fact that “traditional” build methods are just not viable or capable of achieving the stringent efficiency the government are now striving to achieve. It must also be stated that the large majority of ICF companies in the UK are not actually UK based and often work in partnership, and therefore distributing for North American, Canadian businesses etc. Thus requiring importation, with disadvantages including costs, environmental impacts and logistic/time delays for product.
Another major disadvantage of a product not specifically designed for the UK market is its inability to work efficiently with our building products. The UK trades in metric products, imported products are often imperial and therefore applying plasterboard for example can create issues with fixing points not aligning. R-Wall overcomes all these issues.
Why is ICF the Future of Building?
“The Green Building Council” has stated that the UK’s housing stock is among the least energy efficient in Europe, and is responsible for nearly a quarter of our annual carbon emissions. With the UK's goal to have Net Zero emissions by 2050, changes need to be made. Unfortunately we are the slowest market in the world to pick up on the benefits of ICF. UK building methods have not advanced and the government has stepped in to make change. R-Wall Ltd is government backed and we are one of the companies it is hoped will revolutionise building going forward.
It simply makes no sense to keep on building with cavity walls when ICF is just way superior, quicker and easier to construct in all weathers delivering a finished standard which is much more appealing. The finished product doesn't result in problems with damp penetration or mould, you get fabulous airtightness levels built in and whatever insulation level you require is easily accommodated. All with a much thinner wall thickness.