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Cold Weather Construction with ICFs

Feb. 17, 2017 | by David Morris

In many climate zones, cold weather can delay construction with concrete. When the temperature drops, it's often best to delay a pour. But insulated concrete forms solve most if not all the problems of cold weather construction.

By their very nature, insulated concrete forms have their own insulation, a layer of EPS foam surrounding the concrete.

By design, the ICF’s retain much of the heat generated during the concrete curing. Because of the ability to build with ICF’s at any temperature, construction companies are usually able to stay on schedule even during weather conditions that could make it difficult for other types of concrete pours.

 The R-value of one panel of Fox Blocks EPS is R-10.8. Assuming cement content of 500 pounds per cubic yard and a wall thickness of 6 inches and R-10 insulation, the temperature recommendations from the Portland Cement Association indicate the minimum ambient temperature for placing concrete would be around 10º F.

Using ICF construction in cold weather means that vulnerable corners and edges are consistently covered and protected. Forms are left in place to keep moisture and heat contained for an extended period of time, improving the curing condition of the concrete. Additionally, the consistent insulation from ICFs allows for even heat distribution during curing.

Not only is it important to insulate the top of the Fox Block ICF wall after concrete placement in cold weather, there are three other areas to be concerned with. These include footings, bulkheads and embedment steel. Placing concrete on top of a cold footing and around cold steel embedments can affect the concrete temperatures in those local areas. Precautions should be considered or taken for these areas. Bulkheads, much like the top of the ICF wall, must be insulated as well.

The Portland Concrete Association tested ICF construction in below freezing temperatures and found that concrete can be placed without special precautions to prevent freezing damage at temperatures much lower than that allowed for concrete walls cast in reusable forms.

If you'd like to expand your construction season, as well as deliver an energy-efficient, resilient building, choose ICF walls and foundations.

This blog was developed by Fox Blocks. All posts, sponsored and un-sponsored have been reviewed and approved by the Sustainable Community Media Editorial Team to ensure quality, relevance/usefulness and objectivity.


Topics: Building Green, Insulated Concrete Forms - ICF

Companies: Fox Blocks


David Morris / A Detroit native, David T. Morris, LEED® Green Associate, used his drive for entrepreneurship, innovation & new product development to develop a patented product and later took a new building product to market. In 2012, he became U.S. East Regional Manager with Fox Blocks, a division of Airlite Plastics Company, managing ICF sales in seven states. Since 2006, David has delivered more than 140 IFA/ICF training seminars to contractors, plus another 120 presentations to architects and engineers. He is a featured speaker and SME on High-Performance Buildings, and his efforts have resulted in environmentally friendly construction being specified for residential, commercial, and institutional buildings throughout the country.

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