ICF 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.

ICF Construction

Setting Out the ICF Build 

The key to a successful ICF build begins in the set out.  The more level  and true the surface that one starts with,  then the more consistent the assembly of the formwork will be. When building with traditional construction the builder is able to level up each course because he has the mortar to make his adjustments with.  However,  ICF blocks have no such levelling compound to adjust with so the flatter and straighter the original set-out is the simpler it will be going forward. 

Time spent now in getting the first course level will be a good investment in the quality of the rest of the build. 

Having said that, Polarwall is unique among ICF systems in that it can be re-levelled on any course during the build process. 

The Importance of Keeping the Corners True 

The second key point with ICF construction is to keep the corners square and true. It is a fact that If the corners are out of square then the walls cannot be straight.  Also, if the corner is square and true it is very difficult for the walls to be anything other than straight. 

With square corners and the subsequent straight walls the internal bracing becomes nothing more a fine alignment system to make small adjustments. 

Polarwall has a reputation for building particularly straight walls as it is the only insulated formwork system that has an “in-built” horizontal whaler, as one finds in traditional concrete formwork construction.  Block systems do not have this whaler element to help in alignment. 

During the assembly of the formwork it is a good principle for one person to take responsibility for checking each course as it is placed.  This check is to make sure all the formwork is seated down correctly and that all ties and fastenings are in their right place.  

Every build team will find their own process for the assembly which will be dictated by the layout of the structure, as well as the number of people within the team and the equipment that is being used for the build. 

Avoiding Uplift 

If building with ICF blocks then care should be taken to make sure the each block on each course is fastened to the one below and to the block above. This is to stop the uplift that can occur from the fluid concrete during the pour. ICF blocks are reliant on a good friction fit between the male and female connections on the top and bottom of the blocks.  Happily, Polarwall does not suffer from the uplift as all the rails have a very strong connection to the XPS boards and the low profile of the crossties that we use, does not create the friction for the concrete to grab hold of and create the lift. 


The various sections above cover the main topics for 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