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ICF & floor joist bolts


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By Amy in Richfield, UT on 8/1/2007


We are using Eco-Block. We have poured our basement walls, which are 9 feet high, using the 8-inch block. For the main floor we are using the 6-inch block. We are looking for suggestions on how to do the floor joist bolts in the concrete. My husband wants to attach a rim board all the way around and then just twist the bolts into the Styrofoam so that they rest on the rim board and then pour the concrete. He doesn't want to pay for the joist holders and then have to cut the block to hold them if there is another way to do it. We will pour just the one level and then put the floor on before completing the rest of the main floor blocks and pouring. Any suggestions?

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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 8/2/2007


Welcome to the site Amy, you have a whole lot of issues here:

1) I would go over to the forums at greenbuildingtalk.com and put this on their ICF forum. There is much more expertise over there (or at least from a wider range of sources, as several of us over here are well versed on ICF).

2) Your basement is already poured and you poured it without any provision for attaching your floor joists? Or are you attaching your floor joists at the transition between the 8" core concrete and the 6" core concrete block and letting your joists set on the "ledge" between your levels? 

3) Where is your ICF supplier? Didn't they provide any guidance on the best way to attach floor joists to the ICF? And perhaps why didn't you listen to them? Or if they didn't provide advice, perhaps why didn't you keep shopping for a better supplier with more expertise and more vested interest in the success of your DIY project?

4) The most common way to attach floor joists is to use a Simpson Strong-Tie connecter (IIRC it is an ICFLW Series Ledger Connector). You cut your ICF, you stick one piece into the slot and it gets cast into your concrete when you pour your wall. The second piece holds the ledger plate and they get screwed together. If you have ever used Simpson Strong-Tie you know they are very specific about their fastening pattern. Yu then use joist hangers to hang your joists. USP has an equivalent connector, you can order it from your USP supplier using the Simpson part number if you wish. USP will probably save you a bit of money. There is a reason this is the most prevalent way of attaching floors, it is the easiest, the most forgiving, and it is the fastest. If you are DIY, it is not the cheapest. However if you are paying for an installed wall, it quite likely is the cheapest because those trades make pretty good money to install these parts and time saved equates to money saved (what is your time worth?).

5) If you wish to eliminate the ledger plate, USP has an IFH series connector (which I used) that gets cast into the concrete and provides sufficient bearing for the joists to hang directly. If you use this, you need a very good joist template, because moving them is not an option. This will save you a considerable sum over the most popular option I outlined above as you save money on the connectors, you eliminate the joist hangers entirely, and you eliminate the rim joist. This is not frequently used because for some reason USP doesn't include the IFH series hangers in their catalog (probably because they don't acutally make them, they source them from a third party with limited manufacturing capability?), and they are not very forgiving (get on misplaced, and you need to get creative).

6) You can use J-bolts cast into the concrete. This perhaps sounds like what you are proposing. Mounting a rim joist, with the J-bolts already cut through and exposed in the block, just awaiting placement of concrete. This will work, what does you plan say about how many and how frequent? This may not save you much money over the USP IFH Series Connectors, especially because you can eliminate the rim joist, and then the joist hangers from the rim joist and the floor joists.

7) And the "old" way to do it was to pour the wall, and then set Red-Heads (concrete anchors) after the pour. This is very labor intensive, but the Red-Heads are a nice option in case you miss one, or mis-set one and need to come back and do it right later. However doing your entire rim joist this way is not really a good option. I attached my exterior deck this way, and it worked well for that limited application.

8) Something to think about when transitioning between block sizes is how are your utilities going to transition between stories. If your electric and plumbing chases are all on interior walls this won't be a problem. If not, think about how your electrician or plumber is going to be able to route their "stuff" from one floor to the next, through this kink behind a rim joist. Depending on how much space you give them at that transition (e.g. resting that rim joist directly on the lip for that 8" block) can either make their jobs very easy, or very difficult. I would rather upset my sheetrockers by using a non-standard dimension than upset my electrician or plumber. Plumbers and electricians make more money, and sheetrockers have easier more workable solutions in this case. Just for reference, my basement has 8'-3" ceiling height, and my main floor has 10'-4" ceiling height.  Odd heights, but the sheetrockers didn't even blink.

Good luck.


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