Welcome to the BuildBlock ICF Installer Training Series. This 20 part video series is intended to be an educational walkthrough of the ICF building process. From the early planning phases to pouring concrete and finishing walls, this series will provide the basic knowledge you need to have a successful BuildBlock ICF build.

In this brief introduction, we discuss the basic components of ICFs, possible design options, how ICFs are designed and made, and why ICFs are approved as a building material in North American building code.

The videos in this series are produced as a companion to the BuildBlock Installation and Technical Manuals available for free download on the Publications Page or for purchase via the BuildBlock Online Store. You can view more videos in this series via the BuildBlock Blog or by subscribing to the BuildBlock YouTube Page. For a more in-depth training experience, you can take the free Online ICF Installer Training Course.

Video Transcript


Welcome to the BuildBlock ICFs Installation Training. In this short video, we will learn the basic components of ICFs, possible ICF design options, how ICFs are made, and why ICFs are approved as a building material in North American Building Codes.

What are ICFs?

Insulating concrete forms (ICFs) are hollow foam blocks that are stacked into the shape of the exterior walls of a building, reinforced with steel rebar, and then filled with concrete.

ICFs combine one of the best insulation materials, Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Foam, with the strongest structural building materials, steel-reinforced concrete. After the concrete walls are poured the ICFs stay in place providing continuous air-tight insulation with nearly zero air infiltration through the walls.

ICFs create a solid mass wall versus a cavity wall. The dense concrete is insulated on both sides and retains enormous energy in resistance to any change in temperature, more than a typical day can generate, keeping the inside environment stable and comfortable.

ICF walls can be any size, short, tall, slender or thick depending on design requirements and engineering. Any shape is possible including curves and angled corners. ICFs can be combined with other materials to build nearly any design imaginable. Projects can be any size, scale or scope from tiny homes to large commercial structures.

The result is a wall system of unmatched comfort, energy-efficiency, strength, disaster resilience, and noise reduction.

How are ICFs Designed and made?

ICFs are designed to create an insulated wall of predetermined thickness typically 4 to 12 inches in two-inch increments. These thicknesses correspond to commonly accepted engineering widths for concrete walls. Each BuildBlock ICF block takes the place of 6 CMUs or cinder blocks and weighs only about 7 pounds. Each CMU can weigh as much as 35 lbs. each.

BuildBlock EPS foam panels are 2.5” thick on each side providing significant insulation without creating overly thick walls. The panels on each side are connected via plastic bridges known as webs or ties. Web flanges are 1.5” wide and 15” tall and are embedded into each foam panel, one-half inch beneath the foam surface, spaced every 6-inches, providing attachment points for bracing during construction and interior or exterior finishes after the walls are poured.

The full web provides 150lbs of pullout strength, close to the same as wood, and the patented BuildBlock hardpoint, marked by a BB on the block provides 450 lbs. or greater pullout strength for attachment of heavy bracing or finishes such as cabinetry.

Blocks are engineered to tightly lock together to form a hollow wall cavity. The webs keep rebar in place and hold blocks together during the pour. BuildBlock ICFs have a unique interlock pattern between blocks that repeats every inch to reduce waste. This interlock is the tightest on the market to ensure no additional clips, strapping, zip ties, etc. are needed to keep courses together. The 1-inch foam area between vertical web flanges and block courses is easily cut out after the wall is poured to create chases for electrical, mechanical, or plumbing systems.

ICFs are designed in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate nearly any building design or concept including straight blocks, 45 & 90-degree corner forms, curved radius blocks, brick ledge forms, and taper top forms. GlobalBlock an all-foam form system is also available and integrates with BuildBlock products of the same size. GlobalBlock reduces cost, uses less concrete, and has a higher insulation value.

In summary, BuildBlock ICFs provide extremely high insulation, are low weight, are easily moved around job sites, and are a simple material to work with. The possibilities are endless with BuildBlock ICFs.

They create a wall system of unmatched comfort, energy-efficiency, strength, disaster resilience, and noise reduction.