Energy Efficiency from the Ground Up
ICF foundations are a great way to maximize the thermal efficiency of your basement. There are just a few differences between a traditional poured foundation and an insulated concrete form foundation.
Advantages of ICF for a Foundation
One of the biggest advantages to using ICF over poured is the insulating value. In a traditional poured foundation, there is a significant amount of temperature transfer. This means that it is likely to be cold in the winter and potentially damp in the summer.
This temperature transfer is primarily due to the lack of insulating ability of poured concrete. This effect will be reduced if you install insulation on the inside of the basement as part of finishing it. This is a standard way to go when finishing a foundation, but it requires extra time and materials for not only the insulation, but also the required lumber or steel studs.
Insulated forms are as the name implies. They have a 2-3 inch layer of polystyrene on both the inside and outside of the finished wall. This insulation allows for a much more efficient finished basement.
Disadvantages of ICF for a Foundation
One of the potential downsides of using ICF as a foundation is the moisture in the dirt you are building in. In many regions of the country, the standard building practices do not use a full foundation because it will be constantly damp and can become a real mold problem.
Having a polystyrene exterior in soil that is constantly damp has the potential to degrade over time and create problems. So, make sure you do your homework when making the choice for your foundation material.
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