Insulated Concrete Formwork Help & Advice

Our insulated concrete formwork help & advice centre has been created as a reference and information hub for designing and building ICF structures in general, and Polarwall in particular.

Insulating Concrete Formwork Construction

Basic Principles of Insulated Concrete Formwork Construction 

The first basic principles of Insulated Concrete Formwork construction is proper training in the assembly process. It is important that all site operatives have received adequate training in the formwork assembly methods as well as in the concrete placement procedures. 

Some ICF companies arrange training over one or two days at a residential course to teach the basic principles of insulated concrete formwork construction and usually charge for such training.  Here at Polarwall, we used to do both in-house training courses and on-site training too.  However, about 15 years ago we started to use a screen-share service. This allows us to show the assembly process of the formwork simply and quickly using a series of 3D models, photos and videos.  It might sound cavalier but we believe that we can teach anyone (with just basic carpentry skills) the ICF construction process in about 90 minutes using our online service.  

Basic Principles of Insulated Concrete Formwork Construction 
Following the basic principles of ICF construction leads to straight perfect walls like this one.

We can do this so efficiently because we have relatively few components in the Polarwall system. 

Online Training

Polarwall online training can also be tailored to any unusual features within the build design or relating to the site.  For example, If your team are building a basement then more focus will be given to waterproofing and steel fixing rather than creating wide openings. 

Having the online training programme allows a further enhanced training element.  In these days of smart phones we are able to answer specific questions at any time and to show the solution over the smart phone connection.  In this way every person, on every site, has immediate back-up from our Technical Team, who can answer any question on standard construction online complete with illustrations shown on the phone.  

Though online training and technical back-up are very important factors, it is backed up with an old fashioned installation manual placed on every site. Furthermore one of our Tech Team to be at everybody’s first concrete pumping. 

ICF Tools 

To complete a successful ICF construction very few tools are required.  Until the concrete pump arrives on site, the only tools that are required are lightweight hand tools. What is usually required for each operative are: 

  •  A tape measure 
  • A hand saw (or pad saw), 
  • Pencil 
  • Spirit level 
  • Electric drill/driver (with bits) 
  • Skil saw 
  • Hammer
  • Safety equipment

On top of this some builders like to have a chop/mitre saw, a table saw, and a small concrete vibrator for the concrete pour.  An angle grinder might also be needed for cutting reinforcement bars or mesh.

For the concrete pour it is good to have trowels, buckets, gloves and goggles. A lump hammer can come in handy for vibrating the concrete.

Setting Out the ICF Walls

A flat and level surface makes any construction easier. An ICF is no different. Spending a little time getting the forst course level and true is time well spent. Beacause Polarwall is a plank system using Extruded Polystyrene boards in the formwork without any malle and female connections we can cut the boards at any time and in any place. This makes it easy to make alterations to level (if needed) on any course going up the wall.

We also place plenty of emphasis on having each corner of the building properly aligned. A vertical corner makes for straight walls. Similarly if corners are out of square then it is impossible for the walls to be straight. some ICF companies seem blissfully unaware of this basic building principle. Polarwall provides a rigid pre-formed 90 degree corner brace for this purpose. Though we call it a corner brace its primary function is the same as a bricklayers profile.

Also do read our page on Setting Out and Starting the ICF Build 

if you would like to learn the basic principles of insulated concrete formwork construction get in touch with us today.

The various sections above cover the main topics for Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF) construction both above and below ground. 

Do not use this as an alternative to what your chosen manufacturer recommends.  We can do things with Polarwall that ICF blocks can’t do and there may some things that you do with other ICFs that Polarwall can’t do. For example our instructions on vibrating the concrete may not be wise on some EPS block systems. 

We want to add to and develop this section, so we welcome all your questions, suggestions for topics and feedback.  If you want to go deeper into a topic please let us know.  This advice hub does not replace our training (or any other companies training) and you still need to avail yourself of our FREE training course.

Have a question or suggestion not listed here? Feel free to contact us