This manual consists of Installation Instructions (text)
and Installation Guide (graphic details). It is intended
to assist the installation contractor in the methods
and details of constructing walls using Standard Insulating
Concrete Forms (Standard ICFs). This manual does
not preclude the necessity for the installer to use
generally excepted construction practices, to rely on
past and proven experience, or to follow design plans
It is the responsibility of the installer to be abreast
of the most up to date construction techniques and information
available, to work in a safe, efficient, and workmanship
like manner, and to construct walls in accordance with
applicable building codes and regulations.
Structures built with Standard ICFs should be
designed, engineered, and constructed in accordance
with the applicable governing building codes and regulations
including American Concrete Institute (ACI) 318.
Standard ICF Corporation is committed to producing
the highest quality products and warrants their products
against substandard materials and manufacturing defects
that do not conform to their own published specifications.
However, Standard ICF Corporation assumes no responsibility
for the installation, for any accessory materials, or
for the performance of a product or system once they
have been installed.
Consistent with our history as an innovator, Standard
ICF Corporation will continue to research and
develop new innovations that will make our products
more user-friendly, more fail safe, and more cost effective.
We reserve the right to modify or to update the products
and literature we produce. Therefore, it remains the
responsibility of the user to obtain the most recent
When it is required, please do not hesitate to consult
a Standard ICF Corporation "manufacturer's
representative" for information concerning the
installation of Standard Insulating Concrete Forms.
(back to top)
System Description and Specifications
Standard Insulating Concrete Forms (Standard ICFs)
are an exclusive hybrid insulating concrete forming
system (patents pending) used to build monolithic concrete
walls for above and below grade applications. Standard
ICFs, with their unique design and combination
of features, provide benefits that are exceedingly user-friendly
and failsafe, resulting in more cost-effective installations.
Walls built with Standard ICFs are extremely strong,
soundproof, and energy efficient. Compared to traditional
concrete forms and concrete block, they are extremely
lightweight and require much less effort to handle and
Standard ICFs are a 7-inch modified flat-wall,
block type, concrete forming system. They are made of
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) insulating foam plastic panels
with an integrated High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
hard plastic stud wall-tie bracket system. The HDPE
used is derived from recycled material. The EPS is a
lightweight multi-cellular moisture resistant material
made from expandable beads containing pentane gas and
flame retardant additive.
Standard ICFs are manufactured using Molded Type
II EPS in accordance with ASTM E84. Standard ICFs
are molded to a net cured weight density of 1.5 pounds
per square inch. Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL)
test results indicate the EPS used has a flame spread
of 10, and a smoke development of 300. The forms can
be recycled and there are no HCFCs or HFCs emitted during
the manufacturing process. The finished product has
no off-gassing, fumes, odors, or toxins. When filled
with concrete they form a monolithic concrete wall that
has a fire resistance of 3 hours with 5/8-inch drywall.
When burning, Standard ICFs produce less than
half the toxins of burning wood. They have a calculated
thermal resistance of R-Value R-26+ with a performance
up to R-50 and a sound transmission classification of
The 1 5/8-inch wide stud flanges and the exclusive
3-inch x 3-inch corner brackets, which are readily marked,
are located every 12-inches on center as measured from
the inside or outside corners. The brackets are recessed
½-inch below the exterior surface of the foam
panels and are used to fasten a variety of exterior
and interior wall coverings using course thread screws.
The stud flanges align to form continuous uninterrupted
studs with no spaces or gaps. The internal wall-ties
have a tandem re-bar saddle that will accept the placement
of either ½-inch or 5/8-inch horizontal re-bar.
The forms have ¾ x ¾ -inch interlocking
tongues and grooves on all edges with an exclusive stop-block
and a corresponding notch system to facilitate proper
form stacking, stud alignment, and to insure against
lateral form movement.
Standard ICF straight forms are 48-inches long,
16-inches high, 11 ¼-inches wide, and weigh 5
pounds. The corner forms are 48-inches (18+30) long,
16-inches high, 11 ¼-inches wide, and weigh 5.8
pounds. Both forms have a surface area of 5.33 square
feet and will form a nominal 7-inch (6 1/5-inch) interior
concrete core. One cubic yard of concrete will fill
10.5 straight forms or 13.75 corner forms.
The Standard ICF 7-inch (one size) modified flat-wall
forming system, which can be used to build a majority
of residential and light commercial buildings, eliminates
the need for various sizes of forms. This highly energy
efficient method of building simplifies construction,
reduces the quantity of inventory needed, and lowers
the amount of investment required, making them very
cost competitive with other types of wall systems, including
wood construction. (back to top)
Standard ICF Specifications
- Forms are manufactured using Type II EPS in accordance
with ASTM E84.
- EPS panels are molded to a net cured weigh of 1.5
UL tests results with a flame spread of 10, and smoke
development of 300.
- Finished wall has a fire resistance of 3-hours with
- Stud Wall-Tie Brackets are made with recycled HDPE.
- No HCFCs or HFCs are emitted during the manufacturing
- Forms do not off-gas and does not produce fumes,
odors, or toxins.
- Calculated R-Value: R-26+, with a performance of
up to R-50.
- Sound transmission class: STC-50.
- Stud flanges are 1 5/8-inches wide by 16-inches
- Stud flanges are recessed ½-inch below the
exterior surface of the foam panels.
- Studs are located 12-inches on center measured from
- Studs align to form continuous uninterrupted studs
with no spaces or gaps.
- Corner brackets are 3-inches wide (both directions)
by 16-inches high.
- Re-bar saddle will accept either ½-inch or
5/8-inch horizontal re-bar
- Nominal 7-inch modified flat wall system with a
net 6 ½-inch concrete core.
- Straight Forms: 48-inches long, 16-inches high,
11 ¼-inches wide.
- Corner Forms: 48-inches (18+30) long, 16-inches
high, 11 ¼-inches wide.
- Weight: Straight Forms are 5.8 pounds each; Corner
Forms are 5 pounds each.
- Surface Area: 5.33 sq. ft. per form (straight or
- One cubic yard of concrete fills 10.5 straight forms,
and 13.75 corner forms. (back to top)
Applications and Design Plans
Standard ICFs are very versatile and can be used
to build residential, light commercial, agricultural,
and industrial buildings. Plans should be developed
to insure that the building conforms to the accepted
rules of architecture and engineering, and to have a
single overall design, method, and/or style to achieve
the desired objective. It is important to consider the
11 ¼-inch wall thickness of Standard ICFs
in the planning and design stages of the building. (back
Calculating the number of forms needed for your project
is rather simple.
A. Gross number of forms needed:
To determine the total number of forms, multiply the
wall height, which is calculated in increments of 16-inches
(the height of Standard ICFs) by the total length
of the building walls, this will equal the total square
foot of walls to be built. Then divide the total square
footage of the walls by 5.33 square feet (the total
surface area of a form). The dividend will be the gross
number of forms needed.
B. Total number of corner forms needed:
To determine the total number of corner forms needed,
divide the wall height by 16-inches, which will be the
total number of courses. Then multiply the dividend
by the number of building corners; the product will
be the total number of corner forms needed.
C. Total number of forms displaced by window and
Considering the size of Standard ICF straight
forms, 4-feet wide by 16-inches high, calculate how
many full size uncut forms will fit in each opening.
For example, one opening 3-feet wide by 7-feet high
will not accommodate any full-size uncut forms. One
opening 5-feet wide by 7-feet high will accommodate
five (5) full-length uncut forms, and an opening 16-feet
wide by 7-feet high will accommodate twenty (20) full-size
uncut forms. Add the total number of full size uncut
forms for each opening to determine the total sum of
forms that will be displaced. In this example, 25 forms
D. Total number of straight forms needed:
Add (B) the total number of corners and (C) the number
of forms displaced by window and door openings, and
then subtract the sum from (A) the gross number of forms
needed. The remainder will be the total number of straight
E. Total number of corner forms and straight forms
needed for the project are the totals of (B) and (D)
It is not always possible to
determine the exact number of forms needed to complete
a project. For that reason, it is always a good idea
to have extra forms on hand to make up for errors, miscalculation,
and oversights.(back to top)
Level footings should be designed to transfer and distribute
the load they will support and be in compliance with
governing building regulations. Construct level footings
within a vertical tolerance of plus or minus ¼-inch
while corresponding with design plans. Shims or a bed
of mortar can be used under the first course to compensate
for unlevel footers. Having a level footer and/or a
level first course is very important. Minimum size footings
should be 8-inches thick by 20-inches wide. Larger footings
may be required.
Step footings require vertical steps of 16-inches.
Although, Standard ICFs can be cut in half horizontally
without compromising the integrity of the wall-ties
when an 8-inch height is needed. This technique is accomplished
by alternating the top and bottom halves as the first
course and secure them in place with foam adhesive.
The second course will also need to be secured with
Place the vertical steel reinforcing (re-bar) dowels
in the footer at regular intervals to correspond with
the design of steel reinforcing required in the wall.
This will provide solid attachment to footings. Several
methods can be used to hold vertical re-bar in place.
First, attach an open wire loop at the top of the re-bar
dowels large enough so that the vertical re-bar can
be passed through and held in place at the bottom once
the wall assembly in completed. Second, a two-inch length
of PVC pipe (a ring) can be slipped over the dowel and
serve the same purpose as the wire loop. Both the wire
loop and the PVC ring need to be sized correctly so
the vertical re-bar is held reasonably tight to the
vertical dowel protruding from the footer. Third, various
market-ready re-bar positioners are available, and fourth,
the vertical re-bar can be bushed into the correct location
as the first lift of concrete is being pumped in place.
All of these methods allow for full-length re-bar to
be used. A fifth way is that the vertical re-bar can
be installed in two or more pieces with joints that
overlap 36 times the bar diameter and tied with wire.
With this method the vertical bar can be tied to the
horizontal re-bar with wire, and the forms will be installed
by slipping them over the vertical re-bar. See: Vertical
Re-bar (back to top)
To prevent injury it is very important that safety
protection caps be place over the vertical dowels after
they are installed and then removed once the first course
is in place and/or when they are no longer a safety
hazard. Safety First!
Locate the corners and establish the exact building
dimensions on the footings, making sure that all corners
are square and/or correctly aligned in accordance with
the design plans. Place chalk lines on footings along
building perimeter and then install a temporary 2 x
4 guide board on the footings along and on the outside
of the line using 2 ¾- inch cut concrete nails
or Tap-Con screws every 4-foot. It is a good idea
to mark the location of window and door openings on
the footer at this time and during the installation
of the first course. (back to top)
Materials and Tools
Placement of materials and tools, and locating the
general work area inside the perimeter of the wall will
make the installation of the wall assembly and concrete
placement easier and safer. Tools and materials required
to install and construct buildings using Standard ICFs
are those hand and power tools used in work associated
with ordinary carpentry, concrete, and reinforcing steel
(re-bar) installations. No specialized tools are required.
Each installation contractor, depending on their construction
experience, developed skills, and level of investment,
will develop their own method of working with Standard
ICFs that will allow for safe and efficient installation
of Standard ICFs. Their experience will help to
determine the list of materials and tools that they
will prefer to use. All questions regarding the installation
of Standard ICFs should be directed to
a Standard ICF Representative. (back
Handling and Storage
Proper handling and storage of forms is important because
damage can weaken a form and compromise its effectiveness
as a concrete form. Damaged forms can often be used
without concern when care is taken to reinforce the
weakened area. Minor surface damage will not jeopardize
their effectiveness. Store forms to protect them from
high winds, storms, and from the activities associated
with a construction site. For long-term storage it is
important to protect the forms from the effects of exposure
to UV rays from sunlight. (back to top)
Placement of the First Course should begin at the
corners. Position all corner forms on the first course
in one direction only, left or right facing, and on
the inside of the temporary 2 x 4 guide board that is
installed along the wall perimeter, marked with chalk
lines. Work from opposing corners toward the center
of the wall, gluing all forms in place to the footing
with two good size beads of minimum expanding foam adhesive.
At the option of the installer, because the first course
is glued in place, it may not always be necessary to
install the temporary guide board.
Mesh the form tongue and groove ends tight together
while setting the forms in place with the tongue-side-up.
The footers should be clean and free of standing water.
Damp footers can actually insure a better bond to the
footer when using foam adhesive. Alternate the direction
of the corner forms, as the courses are stacked in place
to ensure proper stud alignment and staggering of joints.
See Gluing Forms.
For reference purposes, mark the location of window
and door openings, utility penetrations, and other significant
wall features with a magic marker on the inside side
of the first course at this time. This will help, as
it is important to locate cut forms and splices where
there is a window or door opening, to minimize cut forms
and the need for spices. Cut a form ¼-inch smaller
than the measured opening to eliminate the possibility
of having too much material in the wall length making
it difficult to straighten and/or plumb the wall. The
¼ gap can be filled, when the wall is fully assembled
and before concrete is placed, with minimum expanding
To minimize the need to make additional measurements,
it is a good idea to mark the length of the first cut
piece on the side of the panel that faces the interior
of the building, because all subsequent forms in this
vertical location of the wall will be cut the same length.
The marked measurement should be large enough to be
seen from a distance. Before the second course is put
in place any re-bar positioning devices being used should
be installed. (back to top)
Cut Forms and Splices
Most often it will be necessary to cut a form to fit
into a space that is less than 48 inches long, creating
a reacquiring series of cut forms and splices somewhere
within the length of the wall assembly. The cut forms
and splices should have a staggered and reacquiring
vertical alignment and are best located wherever there
is a window or door opening to minimize the amount of
cuts and splices. If there are no window or door openings
in the wall, the location of the staggered and vertically
aligned cut forms and splices can be anywhere between
the two corners.
Cut a form ¼-inch smaller than the measured
opening to eliminate the possibility of having too much
material in the wall length making it difficult to straighten
and/or plumb the wall. The ¼ gap can be filled,
when the wall is fully assembled and before concrete
is placed, with minimum expanding foam adhesive.
The stud wall-tie brackets will not have a stacked
continuous alignment in the location of the cut forms
and splices, consequently some stop-blocks located on
the inside of the top tongue will need to be trimmed
off the form below, before setting the cut form in place.
To minimize waste, it is important to save and try to
use all cut pieces with one or more wall-ties in place.
Splices need to be placed on both sides of all cut
forms when the cut end creates a distance between stud
wall-tie brackets that is more than 10-inches, or when
the cut end of a form is more than 4-inches from the
stud wall-tie bracket. This is done by attaching a piece
of 1 x 4 or a piece of wood across the middle of the
cut joint on both sides of the forms using course thread
screws. The wood piece should be long enough to bridge
the cut end gap and be attached to at least two stud
flanges. Splices can also be used to strengthen other
perceived weak places in the wall assemble. It is much
easier and less time consuming to install a splice than
it is to repair a bulge or blowout.
Additionally, straight forms that are miter cut and
assembled to create 45-degree and other acute or obtuse
angle corners, will need to be reinforced and braced
to accommodate the pressures of concrete during concrete
placement; this is also true for forms used to create
curved walls. See: Gluing Forms, External Bracing, and
Installation Guide. (back to top)
It is easy to cut forms with the use of a carpenter's
handsaw or a reciprocating power saw (Saws-all), using
a medium tooth blade for cutting both foam and hard
plastic. Standard ICFs can either be cut in half
horizontally or have as much as 4-inches cut off the
top of either side of the form without compromising
the integrity of the wall-ties or the strength of the
form. The use of a table saw can speed full-length horizontal
cuts. A small "keyhole type" drywall saw is
handy for making cuts, trimming forms to fit, and for
cutting holes for utility penetrations.
It is important to try to avoid cutting the wall tie
part of a bracket, which would compromise the ability
of the form to hold up during concrete placement. As
an example, this can occur at intersecting walls and
when locating a beam pocket. These areas will need to
be strengthened with splices or other methods of reinforcement
applied to the exterior. Tie wire can also be used to
strengthen these areas.
Always cut a form ¼-inch smaller than the measured
opening to eliminate the possibility of having too much
material in the wall length making it difficult to straighten
and/or plumb the wall. The ¼ gap can be filled,
when the wall is fully assembled and before concrete
is placed, with minimum expanding foam adhesive.(back
With the exception of gluing the first course to the
footer and gluing the top course to the one below, gluing
is not required. However, for the sake of assured quality,
we do recommend that all horizontal joints be glued.
Many seasoned installers prefer to glue all the horizontal
joints, while others do not. We specially encourage
those just starting out to glue. Gluing ensures a more
fail-safe installation, so "when in doubt, glue".
Gluing not only gives a lot of stability to the wall
assembly to withstand the forces created by concrete
placement, but also adds stability during severe and
unpredictable weather conditions during installation.
It is also important to glue forms that were cut to
fit in complicated or difficult areas where the integrity
of the forms has been compromised, and where straight
forms were miter cut to form corners. In addition to
gluing, these areas may also need to be reinforced with
pieces of wood or metal supports using course thread
screws and/or tie-wire.
Glue horizontal joints with a 3/8 to ½-inch
bead of minimum expanding foam adhesive along the outside
edge of the horizontal tongue on both sides of the lower
form just before setting a form in place. It is not
usually necessary to glue vertical joints except at
the ends of the cut forms prior to concrete placement.
However, it is very important to glue the top course
to the course below to prevent the top course from floating
when concrete is being pumped in place.
Applying minimum expanding foam adhesives with a foam
applicator gun has become the preferred method for attaching
ICF forms together horizontally, to footings, and to
filling and reinforcing gaps, spaces, and holes associated
with cutting and assembling ICFs. As an alternative,
foam-compatible contact-cements may be used for assembling
miter cut corners. See: First Course, Cut Forms and
Splices, and Cutting Forms.
These foam-compatible adhesives, applicator guns, and
contact cements can be acquired through your local building
supply store or through specialty outlets such as ICF
Building Products: www.icfbp.com, Windlock Select: www.windlockselect.com,
or Demand Products: www.demandproducts.com. (back
The second course and all additional courses can begin
as soon as the horizontal re-bar is placed in the first
course. Like the placement of the first course, start
at the corners and work toward the center of the wall.
Alternating left and right corner forms (changing the
direction of the corner forms) will force the alternating
alignment of vertical joints and align the stud flanges
throughout the wall system.
By following the form placement and cutting patterns
established in the first two courses develop an installation
method and pattern which can be repeated throughout
the wall ensuring a user-friendly and more fail-safe
installation. (back to top)