If you want to create a building envelope that is more energy-efficient, you are going to want to consider working with insulating concrete forms (ICF). This alternative to wood frames, precast concrete, and light-gauge steel frames can be used to create an insulation barrier that will provide an airtight wall system that offers extremely high insulation levels.
Smart Tip #1: Work With the Frame
To minimize waste, which is essential when you are trying to build a green and energy-efficient structure, you will want to work within the dimensions of the form. As you create the layout of the walls, you will want to work with the frame's overall design. By considering how you can place the concrete forms so you don't have to cut away part of the pre-made form, you will be able to reduce waste with your overall project.
Smart Tip #2: Ditch the Air Barriers and Vapor Retarders
When you are working ICFs, you don't need to add in air barriers vapor retarders. These weather-resistant barriers are not required because the ICF will create a solid structure that will not allow in any air or vapor, so you don't need to protect against it.
Doing so is just a waste of supplies and materials and wastes the potential of using ICF in your structure. You can apply the exterior finish for your building direct to the ICFs.
Smart Tip #3: Keep It Simple
As you work with ICF construction, be sure to keep it simple. It is not a complex building structure. It is formwork that will stay in place when you add concrete to it. As you figure out the overall design you want to use, keep in mind that you are essentially building a strong and stable concrete wall.
Smart Tip #4: Use the Right Fasteners
When attaching items to the ICFs, it is essential to use the right fasteners for that system. If you are using a plastic webbed ICF, you will want to use sharp coarse threaded screws to attach items to it. If you are using metal webbed ICFs, you will want to use a self-tapping screw to attach things to the structure.
You need to check with the manufacturer to ensure you know what type of fastener you should use. It is important to use the right fastener so that whatever you attach to the ICFs stays in place.
Smart Tip #5: Preserve the Thermal Envelope at the Roof
ICFs can provide your building with a great thermal envelope; however, for that to be effective, you need to make sure that you continue to use air barriers and proper insulation when you get to the roof. Failure to do so can compromise the thermal envelope designed to provide your roof with increased energy efficiency.
If you want to build a building with a strong thermal envelope, you should explore working with insulating concrete forms. When working with ICFs, keep your design simple, skip out on moisture barriers, use the right fasteners, and make sure you preserve the thermal envelope at the roof.