HighR ICF Specialist | Insulated Concrete Forms vs other Building Materials


Quad-Lock ICF vs Wood Frame Construction:

We have all heard builders claim to build "R-13" or "R-21" walls with wood frame construction. The problem is that only the highest rated component in the wall - the insulation itself - performs at these stated R-values. A wood frame wall is made up of several components, not all of which have the same R-value. For instance, a 2x4 or 2x6 stud has an R-value of about R-5 or R-7. Every 16 inches or so, one of these components breaks the insulation layer and forms a "thermal bridge", conducting heat through the walls at high rates in addition to being a major cause of mold in standard construction. Adding up the area of studs, plates, and headers, 12% to 16% of the total wall area is an R-5 or R-7 thermal bridge, all detracting from the stated R-value. In addition, batt insulation tends to sag over time and leave spaces without any insulation! How can those builders claim only the highest-component R-value? From a whole-wall perspective, framed walls operate at far lower R-values - sometimes only half of the advertised value.

Thermal conduction is not the only mode of energy loss in a building.

Thermal Convection is heat transfer by movement of currents within fluids (or gases). When considering energy performance of buildings, it's the air moving between the inside and outside or "air infiltration". A common measurement is 'Air Changes per Hour' at a blower-door induced pressure differential of 50 Pascal (ACH50). US Energy Star standards for new homes require less than 4-7 ACH50. In comparison, Canadian R-2000 standards are 1.5 ACH50, and Swedish standards are 0.5 ACH50 or less.