Many builders now recognize the benefits of using insulated concrete forms for their projects. As much as we might see their value today, ICF construction did not immediately catch on. It took several steps to develop the system and products we are all familiar with. Builders were also reluctant to try a new way of creating concrete structures.
This post will examine the history of ICF construction to see how we got where we are today.
A Short History of ICF Construction
The first construction system, similar to ICFs, came from WWII-era Europe. Swiss nationals August Schnell and Alex Bosshard invented a type of concrete formed from wood-fiber cement that was hollow down the middle and could be used to build forms and pour concrete. The blocks first gained traction as a construction material in Europe after WWII.
Southern Ontario general contractor Werner Gregori made the next significant contribution. He was enjoying a day at the beach when he had an idea about the foam material of his cooler. The idea was that he could use a similar foam to create blocks for concrete forms. He believed it would save time and reduce waste on construction sites. Gregori also thought the insulating foam could provide insulation for the concrete structures.
Werner Gregori patented his idea in Canada in 1966. His original foam blocks were 16” high by 48” long. They had a tongue-and-groove system for interlocking and used metal ties. This design was the primary configuration for several years after their invention.
No one knows for sure what the first structure to be built using ICF forms was. Many agree it was a house on Lakeshore Drive in Oakville, Ontario, but builders used ICFs on other structures around the same time.
After patenting his idea in 1966, Gregori sought out BASF, a German chemical company specializing in EPS foam insulation. Together, they refined the concept, paving the way for developing the modern ICFs we recognize today.
With BASF, ICF construction integrated the EPS foam insulation common in many modern forms. Additional developments in block design and accessories were underway, like the development of new bracing equipment and alignment systems in the 1970s.
Despite initial hesitancy from many contractors, ICF construction gained traction, with media attention to ICF structures playing a pivotal role in boosting awareness of the technology. Several newspaper stories about ICF buildings helped build interest.
During the 1980s and 1990s, there was an influx of manufacturers creating ICF blocks and systems. The various systems and competition led to the rapid development of ICF construction. It eventually led to the formation of the Insulating Concrete Form Association (ICFA) in the mid-1990s, marking the entry of ICFs into the mainstream of the construction industry.
ICFs now enjoy widespread recognition. Builders know they can rely on ICFs for solid and durable structures. They are also popular for ease of use and energy efficiency. However, ICF technology is still developing today. That means we can still expect to see exciting advances in the future.
Are you interested in ICF construction? Click here to reach the team from SuperForm. Our innovative products maximize the benefits of using ICFs. Reach out now to learn more about SuperForm ICFs.
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