| ICF's vs. SIP’s
better, a car or a truck? Fundamentally, it all comes down to your application.
As far as the basement is concerned, I would recommend ICF’s. ICF’s are a much better
insulator than poured concrete. When it comes to the main floor, either SIP’s or ICF’s will
work. ICF’s seem to work better in warmer climates and SIP’s seem to work better in
Here are the times I would recommend ICF’s for home construction. If you live in a
predominantly warm climate, or building in a high-risk flood area, or building in a high fire
risk area, or if soundproofing is a high concern or if you are building more than two floors
Here are the times I would recommend SIP’s for home construction. If you live in a cold
climate or mixed cold and hot climate, or are building in an area of little fire risk, or building
in an area of little flood risk
Both SIP’s and ICF's can withstand high winds, ICF's cost a little more, SIP’s go up faster
than ICF's and SIP’s have a little higher R value. SIP’s also make great roofs.
I know that about this time, somebody’s going to say, “Yabut, ICF’s have more thermal
mass!” I agree that they have more mass, but I’m not convinced that by putting insulation
on both sides of the mass is of any economic benefit other than strength. If all the
insulation was on the outside and the concrete on the inside, that may be of some benefit.
Look at it this way. If you are hoping that the sun will warm up your thermal mass, you
have insulation between the sun and your thermal mass. Besides, the sun can strike only
one wall full on at a time, leaving three walls exposed to the cold air. Also consider that
during the winter, there are more nighttime hours than daylight hours and the morning and
evening sun produce’s very little heat. And if the sun isn’t going to heat up the mass, what
is? I would venture to guess that if the center of the concrete was tested, it would be close
to the average of the outside temperature and the inside temperature. The concrete was
put into the wall for structural strength, not to be a thermal mass. Every HVAC person
that comes out to estimate the size of your furnace uses an estimator that takes into
consideration the R-value of your windows, doors and walls. And so far, that’s the best
system to decide how big a furnace or air conditioner to use. But, if you’re convinced that
it will help you heat your home, both products will work at least twice as well as stick
frame, and you will still come out a winner.
Both ICF’s and SIP’s have their place, and both will help you save money on energy
costs. No matter which system you choose, both are excellent building materials that will
provide you with a well insulated, green, efficient home that you will be proud of for many