Home builders in the great plains and other areas at high risk for tornadoes will undoubtedly place a premium on structures that can withstand extremely high winds, driving hail, and flurrying projectiles.
Insulated concrete forms (ICF) offer a number of benefits that can help a home stand tall and unscathed, even during the most intense tornadoes.
#1 - A Solid, One-Piece Design
Traditional wood-frame home structures are made from pre-cut panels that are pieced together at the site of the construction project.
Not only do these panels require extensive manpower and/or machinery to set, but even the most carefully fitted wooden panels will have some minor imperfections that may allow strong winds to take hold and dust and moisture to creep in during a tornado.
Within the walls of ICF structures, geopolymer cement or other pliable concrete mixtures are poured into pre-made casts that mold together as one solid structure, eliminating the cracks, crevices, and imperfections prevalent in traditional framing and producing a solid wall of concrete surrounding the home.
This innovative design gives ICF homes a bevy of tornado-resisting benefits that include:
- The ability to withstand winds in excess of 200 MPH
- An airight concrete structure that prevents the flow of water and debris
- A solid, consistent body that offers no “weak spots” for fast-moving projectiles
#2 - Perfect Angles
No matter how carefully erected, traditional wood-frame home structures are not going to be 100% flush and/or square at every intersection, as minor imperfections in the pre-made panels and human error during the construction process are likely to make the final product less-than-perfect, no matter how much CAD technology is used.
In most cases, the homeowner will never notice, but when faced with the awesome forces of a tornado, even the most minor misalignments can be exploited, to disastrous effect.
ICF has variable set times, depending on the needs of the contractor, allowing for precision of alignment prior to the final structure being solidified. This ensures that your home will be at its optimal design when confronted with tornado conditions.
It is important to note that even with the variable set times, insulated concrete forms (ICF) are actually much less labor-intensive to construct than traditional designs, requiring a fraction of the man-power and work days of traditional wood-frame home structures.
#3 - Better Resistance To Slow, Insidious Damage
Having a home demolished in the face of the storm is not the only threat that tornadoes pose to homeowners. The minor jabs to a home’s structure are just as real, creating situations where the framing may fail years down the road.
While traditional wood-frame structures cannot match ICF’s ability to keep out water, dust, and dirt during tornado conditions, even those frames that offer high insulation are still an inferior option to ICF.
For example, structural insulated panels are commonly used in areas of high wind, as they have a strong ability to keep cold air, moisture, and dust out of homes. However, the insulation is often set in 7/16-inch oriented strand board (OSB) or plywood.
The porous OSB and plywood absorbs water, leading to rot damage that will compromise the structural integrity of the home down the road.
In addition to being much lighter, customizable, and easy to work with, ICF is free from all sheathing that may betray an otherwise well-insulated structure with the passing of time.
#4 - Sound Insulation
While the threat of structural damage is certainly stressful, one of the more unnerving aspects of sitting through a tornado is the apocalyptic sound of wind whistling and objects smashing.
While traditional wood-frame structures do little to stifle the sound of the damage taking place outside, ICF structures have a sound transmission class (STC) rating of 54, which offers a significant reduction in the potent noise produced during a tornado.
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