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Basement Walls Poured vs ICF


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Doug's Forum Posts: 31
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By Doug in Lawrence, KS on 3/6/2007


Just a thought on basement walls:

I plan to build with ICF, but concerning my basement walls, it seems more economical to conventionally pour the walls.  Then go with ICF on top of these walls. 

The initial benefit would be reduced cost on the basement.  I can still insulate the interior, without wasting insulation on the exterior.  It seems the foam on the exterior would become a liability at some point with possible deterioration.  If water got behind the foam, the plastic ties would create an easy path for water to infiltrate my home. 

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

Doug

 

 

 


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/6/2007


Is forming for a concrete wall cheaper than stacking ICF's? The rebar would be the same, labor and amount of concrete would be the big issues.

I would recommend insulating the wall on the exterior if you don't do ICF's at least 2' below the average 40-degree depth. Most of the insulation boards, polyiso, EPS or urethane won't deteriorate below grade.

And water won't wick along the plastic webs in the ICF; the concrete is going to absorb it. So you need to waterproof anyway.

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By John in Erie, CO on 3/31/2007


If your house and the foundation interface is done correctly, then you'd have the OSB pretty much flush, and flashed over, the top outside edge of the ICF's - So the water will be clear of the foam.

On all ICF's, virtually every manufacturer requires A) that the exposed foam be covered, either with siding/brick/stucco (exposed above grade) or parged (kind of a gray cement stucco) or waterproofed (below grade).  So really, your foam is covered and won't deteriorate in properly installed ICF.

The real additional cost is that you are insulating the entire basement of the ICF wall, and it does cost more up front.  Both foundations generally require waterproofing, ICF installers tend to be fewer and are charging a little extra if there is good work in the area, but if nobody can afford them around you, you might be able to bargain some.

If you go ICF, be sure your waterproofing is compatible with the foam.  Most are, some are not.  It would be heartbreaking early in a project to get your foundation in, have the waterproofer come in, and spray your foam and have the foam melt away.  Water-based coatings are generally OK, but check and test to be sure.

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By Aaron in Oakland, IA on 5/25/2007


I have gone back and forth on the same issue as to use ICF or not.  The determining factor is cost.  I can pour my basement for significantly less just using a regular poured wall rather than ICF and that is basically the cost of the forms.  I figured that I would insulate the outside of the foundation anyway and the footings as well. I will be finishing my basement and I am not sold on routering out the foam to run my electrical lines.  I guess I am old fashioned so I will just pay the additional expense to have the basement framed and insulation added.  I will do the work, so it is basically the cost difference of the materials.  Anyway, those are my 2 cents.
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By Kevin on 7/8/2017


I have been trying to make the decision of ICF's or poured basement walls for a house in the mountains. I have been following ICF construction for about 25 years.

Now that I am getting ready to build, I am concentrating more on costs. While the ICF's do have the advantage of instant insulation, the initial cost is appearing to be far more expensive. First, there is the cost of the ICF blocks, which seems to have more than doubled in the last 10 years. Odd, because polystyrene has actually decreased in cost in the same time frame. Then there is the consideration of protection/ waterproofing for the ICF's. This adds considerably to the cost of the walls, where waterproofing for poured, is very inexpensive. If you do not plan on framing out the walls, you have the time and mess of digging out the foam for wiring, or installing plastic conduit while building up your ICF's (latter preferred).

Initial costs are very important, as it is all about building and getting the occupancy permit at the lowest cost and time, for me. Once I am in, I can insulate and finish my basement at my own pace of doing it when I get around to it.

All of my previous projects have been poured concrete basements and I have been able to insulate efficiently enough to maintain comfortable, energy efficient homes.

I have not made my decision yet, so any input would be appreciated.


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