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7 Myths about Building an ICF Home or Building

By on 4/4/2016
Recently while at a Home Builders Show manning our booth and talking to prospective clients about building Insulated Concrete Form homes, the following statements came up.  We decided that if one or two people were being told these common myths, that many more out there have been told the same.  We hope if you are interested in an energy-efficient, comfortable home that's built to last you'll take the time to read these 7 Myths about Building an ICF Home or Building.


1.  The ICF construction method does not provide uniform R-value.

Answer.  This is exactly opposite of reality.  ThermoForm has no wood framing, which is a conduit for energy loss.  Wood wall components have an R-value of approximately R-9 and comprise nearly 20% of a walls surface area.  This wood component lessens the "rated" R-19 wooden framed wall to approx. R-14.  A wood framed wall is only R-19 between the wooden studs.

2.  ICF construction does not meet "claimed" R-value.
Answer.  We claim a completed wall R-value of R-25. This value is arrived at by adding the respective R-values of all the wall components. However, ICF does not need to subtract any insulation values for areas where the insulation is thinner, or non-existent, as in wood framed buildings.  In addition, ICF wall construction does not allow for air infiltration simply by its design of solid concrete encased in rigid insulation.  Wood framed walls, on the other hand, must be aggressively and properly sealed to attempt to reduce air infiltration.

3.  Basement floors do not need to be insulated.
Answer.  This common misconception is widespread.   A basement floor should be insulated with 2 inches of rigid foam insulation for 2 very good reasons:  1.  Insulating the floor will instantly raise the temperature of the concrete from approx. 50 degrees F. to 70 degrees F.  The reason for this is if you insulate the basement floor against the cold temperature of the ground beneath the concrete, the floor automatically becomes the same temperature as the air in the living space above the floor.  This results in approx. 20 degrees of added floor comfort for no additional energy cost.   2.  The second sound reason to insulate under the basement floor is closely related to the 1st.  If you raise the temperature of the floor to the same temperature as the air above the floor, the homeowner would have to experience 100% indoor humidity to develop moisture on the surface of the concrete floor. This factor alone greatly reduces the chance of mold or mildew associated with floor coverings such as carpeting, throw rugs, linoleum, etc.  Insulating under the concrete floor slab greatly increases comfort and indoor air quality for only the one time cost of the insulation.

4.  ICF construction does not provide wall attachment.
Answer.  Our ThermoForm system provides vertical, full height attachment flanges every 8 inches on center.  These flanges are easily detected and found where the edge of our polystyrene panels meet.  Wherever the panels meet there is a 1 3/4 inch wide plastic flange that actually occurs twice as often as studs do in a wood framed wall to hang siding, drywall and cabinets.

5.  ICF is not recommended for walkout basements because of custom heights.

Answer.  ThermoForm components come in 1 foot height increments and are easily adaptable to custom height requirements.

6.  People who have built with ICFs are unhappy with their decision.
Answer.   People who have invested in ICF buildings are universally happy with their decision.  We always encourage potential homeowners to ask people who already live in an ICF home (or have an ICF basement) for their private opinion.  

7.  ICF Forms produce off-gassing.
Answer.  All off-gassing is completed prior to the product arriving to a customer’s job site.


If you have questions that need answered, please feel free to call us at 1-800-360-4634.


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