Vertical ICF -vs- Horizontal ICF
Last Post 02 Jun 2011 08:58 AM by smartwall. 21 Replies.
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RedOakUser is Offline
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29 Mar 2011 11:57 AM

I was attempting to read a neighboring thread, but I (eventually) came to realize that it's slipping into the abyss ...  

I'm a timber frame builder with a masonry background.  The masonry experience was many moons ago, however, so ICF was truly obscure back in those days (if it existed at all).  Having written that, I've taken part in many a concrete pour: so the prospect of pouring forms properly is not an alien concept to me.  Vibrating at 1 sec per foot of lift, for instance, is how I was taught.  If that's not how it's done in the ICF world, I'm sure the manufacturer will provide the proper guidance and/or specifications.

The project in question is a single-story residential structure, which is proposed for the Berkshire region of western Mass.  In general, the building will sit on a rectangular 10' tall basement with bumpouts front and rear.  This means that that there will be twelve (12) right 90-degree corners in the building: with no curves, no acute angles and no obtuse angles of any kind.  The current plan calls for 10' walls above the foundation, as well, so I'm assuming that this will require a transition of core thickness between the basement walls and the house walls, with the thicker walls at the base, obviously. 

In the interest of speed, I was thinking about the possibility of a ledge on the inside of the walls -- once again, at the transition between the basement and the house walls.  Assuming that I'm on the right track here, this ledge should provide a simple platform for the floor system to rest upon.

We're currently researching the vertical ICF product sold by TF System in Wisconsin. I'd appreciate it if the experienced ICF folks on the board would compare and contrast the use of Vertical ICF to the much more common Horizontal ICF technology in use today. Although concrete is no stranger to me, the specific use of ICFs is. Therefore, any productive thoughts on employing either type of ICF in our project would be most appreciated. 

Thanks for your time,
Red
TexasICFUser is Offline
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29 Mar 2011 12:52 PM
Red, It sounds like your job may be simple enough that you will be safe with either path. Furthermore, and most important--- you have concrete/construction experience. I believe pretty strongly that horizontal is easier and faster but if I were you I would ask a few of the Wisconsin installers for their opinion. Wisconsin has a few of the better installers out there from what I've seen. Most installers in Texas are going to tell you that horizontal is easier and faster. I only know of two that have actually installed a vertical system.

I believe vertical is experiencing some of the growing pains that horizontal went through a number of years ago. E.g. strong (and well done- covincing) marketing to homeowners that they can easily do it etc. This will create some problem jobs for them as this strategy did for horizontal in the early days. I know there are pleny of smart guys (and gals) out there that can put either system together -- but I don't think it's generally a good idea to tell a biology teacher that he can throw up an ICF wall in a matter of days without training.

I am trying to help one of there biology teaches right now. My hat's off to the vertical guys -- the only thing I don't like is that they try to say they are the only ones who get it and that it's the new thing. I may be the new thing but I don't believe it has any advantages.
Regards.
jacktcaUser is Offline
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29 Mar 2011 01:06 PM
Vertical or horizontal.  It's all part of the same cartel.   The price is fixed. 

As for TF System they just recently introduced a completely different product than they had a few weeks ago.   TransForm didn't exist a few weeks ago.   Do you want to be the guinea pig for this just arrived on the market completely new version of their vertical ICF technology?





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29 Mar 2011 02:09 PM
I have never used a vertical ICF personally, but I have looked into them (websites, YouTube vidoes, etc.) From what I have seen there are some systems that look somewhat user friendly and others that seem to be very time consuming to put up. Horizontal ICFs have been around for many many years (1970s in North America; 1950s in Europe if I am not mistaken). The fact that the VAST majority of manufacturers continue to make horizontal forms and occupy almost the entire market share of the ICF industry (I would be surprised if vert systems account for more than 4-5% of all ICF - just guessing) leads me to believe it is a better design.

All of this being said, you are still better off using a Vert ICF system than any poured, CMU, etc. type foundation.

Also - seems to me that installation of Horizontal forms will lend itself to your experience as a Mason (just stacking larger bricks).

In regards to floor system installation, I prefer to use a plate/ledger system, such as http://www.icfconnect.com/joist.htm or http://www.strongtie.com/products/connectors/ICFVL.asp

Using a ledge like you mentioned (assuming you were taking about a brick ledge form) will work, but you will have the extended section to finish, as it will protrude into the interior of the wall. This can be hidden if you use a top chord bearing open web joist so the brick ledge is effectively hidden within the floor system.
RedOakUser is Offline
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29 Mar 2011 03:16 PM
ICFBdr: I'm very interested in your thoughts on connecting a floor system to ICF walls, but your link doesn't work for me.

Do I have to register with the "ICF CONNECT" site to see the drawing you linked me to?

Red
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29 Mar 2011 03:19 PM
Sorry - you may to copy and paste the links. You do not need to register to see them
RedOakUser is Offline
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29 Mar 2011 03:27 PM
ICFBdr

This is what I see when I cut/paste the link you provided into our IE browser: This domain is not configured for this service. Please contact the webmaster to have it enabled.
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29 Mar 2011 03:32 PM
Try to just go to ICF-Connects website www.icfconnect.com then clicking on the joist hanger option (top left corner). If that doesn't work for some reason, try to Google ICF Connect floor hanger. Not sure why you are not able to view the page - works from my end fine.
lzerarcUser is Offline
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29 Mar 2011 06:09 PM

Or just go to Simpson Strong tie's website...they have a small ICf section.

TF and Hobbs are the only vertical ICF makers I know of.  Hobb's claim to fame is you require less concrete because it is an engineered system.  They also provide fully engineered and stamped drawings for each and every job specifically.  I am not sure if TF does that or not.   Vertical forms also claim you require less bracing, which for someone new to ICF that could be a plus.  Building or renting braces can be expensive.  TF and Hobbs also allow easier access to inside the block to set rebar, recover dropped tools (right, I know this doesn't happen often, but still....) as you can slide the foam up to reveal all of the plastic webbing. 

There are some very knowledgeable ICF guys on here I am sure they can help to give you as unbiased info as possible. 

smartwallUser is Offline
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30 Mar 2011 03:41 PM
Mass. is home to three molders that mold about 12 different blocks. You have abundant choices and shipping that can be a factor in the choice of which block to use is in your favor.
RedOakUser is Offline
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30 Mar 2011 03:47 PM
If I'm understanding you correctly, smartwall, you're saying that we should be able to get a variety of ICF types in Mass? If so, do you happen to know our choices?
snoslidr74User is Offline
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30 Mar 2011 10:39 PM
Others may have more direct knowledge of blocks manufactured in or near Mass, but I found the following table that compares blocks and lists where they're manufactured. From ICF builder mag. http://www.icfmag.com/documents/ICF_COMP_CHART/ICF_Comp_Chart.pdf
RedOakUser is Offline
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31 Mar 2011 11:15 AM
Thanks, snoslidr74.  I'll research the link you posted as soon as I get a chance. 

I suppose transportation is becoming an increasingly important factor all of the time.
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02 Apr 2011 09:59 PM

 What I here from those who have installed a lot of TF, is it works well and it is fast as long as there is no corners or windows. Openings tend to slow them down a bit. TF's steel stud inner panels can temporally support some floor loads, allowing you to set the floor system on the top steel channel before the wall is poured. The outer panel can be ordered taller to come flush with the of the sub floor and Icf can continue up ward.

Eldon Howe
Howe Construction totalicf@gmail.com

Total Concrete Homes provide positive cash flow , DAY ONE .
ClarkUser is Offline
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04 May 2011 08:35 PM
Posted By ICF372 on 02 Apr 2011 09:59 PM

 What I here from those who have installed a lot of TF, is it works well and it is fast as long as there is no corners or windows. Openings tend to slow them down a bit. .


Having built an ICF home using the TF System, I don't believe that corners and openings are any more of a problem than for horizontal block systems.  I will admit that T-intersections can be a bit of a challenge for first timers.  What's really nice about the vertical system is the ability to install the forms from the ground, for the most part, with minimal bracing between corners and T-intersections.   I also like the ability to leave out most of the interior panels until all the rebar is tied and inspected.  Since TF Systems is located in Green Bay, WI, anyone building an ICF house in the upper midwest should take a close look at their product.  I'm not sure if they have distribution warehouses on the east and west coasts.  If not, shipping can get rather expensive, and a local block supplier might be a better choice. 

Simpson Strong Tie makes a nice connector for attaching a ledger board to the inside of the ICF wall.  In the end, it's probably cheaper than creating a ledge using the brick ledge EPS forms or going to a 12" foundation wall.
RedOakUser is Offline
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05 May 2011 12:51 PM
Thanks, fellas. Back in the day, we used to support possible "problem areas" with lumber. In other words, we attached lumber to the forms and propped/leaned additional lumber between the trench and the form. We did this at given intervals and at areas that would be under higher pressure during the pour (i.e., the "tee sections" referenced in this thread).

Having written that, I have to also mention that the "forms" I'm referring to were the traditional sectional steel/plywood forms that are still in heavy use today. Obviously, the design emphasis with this type of form is strength -- not insulating properties. ICF, like most things, has its trade-offs. To get the great insulation factors inherent with ICFs, you're giving up the lateral strength inherent with traditional wall forms. I understand that ICFs will require bracing and, at this point, I'm still trying to learn as much as possible about this aspect of the work -- before I purchase any ICF products.

Thanks for your time,
Red
BrucePolycreteUser is Offline
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05 May 2011 04:26 PM
Hey Red, Don't worry about strength with ICFs. Polycrete's standard Big Block can withstand 1,600 lbs per sqft of lateral pressure, and if you check the ACI tables, you will see that will allow you to pour 10 ft at 40 degrees F. Now, I can also tell you that we tried moving the steel mesh that reinforces the panel closer to the outside of the form (about 5/8" from the outside face) and got to 2,000 lbs per sqft before the air bladders in the testing machine ruptured. The form never broke or even bulged.,, Just sayin....
balameneUser is Offline
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31 May 2011 04:28 PM
Red, there may be one more your missing on ICF's. The lego block style.  Much simpler to construct, much cheaper with less steel and concrete and it's good for 5 stories and no  offsetting.  Try www.apexblock.com, I can be contacted thru Forever Green Concreter Forms(www.greenformicf.com).  Frank  210-862-0644
Ray GladstoneUser is Offline
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31 May 2011 04:37 PM
Hey Balamene, On that Apex thing, how do you induce the concrete to travel horizontally and get the air out?
RedOakUser is Offline
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01 Jun 2011 10:25 AM
Hello Balamene (Frank?):

Part of our project is an open truss steel design, which will be constructed above grade. In other words, the trusses will be raised off of the grade and will sit on concrete frost/knee walls.

I saw this very thing done about seven years ago with 10" formed concrete walls -- and the structure still looks great. How can the Apex ICF wall system accommodate something like this?

By the way, I'm still wondering how the concrete will flow horizontally without creating voids. I watched the videos you linked me to very carefully and some of the voids at the top of the horizontal "tubes" seemed to fill in without apparent explanation.

I've got absolutely no affiliation with any ICF manufacturer -- I'm just a builder trying to learn more about the various ICF systems in use today.

Thanks for your time,
RedOak
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