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Traditional vs ICF Concrete Forms: What’s the Difference?

Most concrete formwork uses wood or steel. Builders prefer traditional wood or steel formwork because it is more familiar. However, ICF concrete forms might be a better alternative for many applications. This post will explore the differences between ICF and traditional concrete forms.

Comparing Traditional and ICF Concrete Forms

Strength and Durability

Both options provide a way to build with reinforced concrete. It is a solid building material. However, ICF forms use more rebar than conventional formwork, making for far stronger concrete. It is also more water-resistant and less prone to issues with mold.

Upfront Cost

Cost is an important consideration when choosing building materials. On average, ICF construction costs more than conventional concrete forms. While the forms cost more, they have the insulation built-in, which is a cost savings later. You might also save money on labor.

Ease of Use

Insulated concrete forms are much easier to build than traditional forms. The foam blocks are easier to handle and place. It means the work can get done quicker and save builders on labor costs. Along with that, the ease of use can also help projects stay on schedule.


ICFs have insulation integrated into the forms. With traditional forms, you must add insulation later. That means ICFs offer better insulation for more efficient heating and cooling. They also create structures that are more airtight. With ICFs, building owners can enjoy greater comfort while saving energy.

Material Reuse

Reusing the forms or material might be a benefit in some situations. Builders can reuse steel forms for multiple structures. Wood forms might offer a few reuses with proper cleaning and alteration. With ICFs, you don’t remove the forms from the concrete, so they are not reusable.

Required Expertise

Both types require specialized knowledge to design and install the forms. However, the knowledge and expertise to use ICFs is less common. That means there might be fewer builders that use them in your area.

Design Flexibility

Wood and steel forms offer a high level of design flexibility. However, ICFs offer incredible freedom to designers. The blocks come in many configurations to suit a wide array of design elements. ICF concrete forms are also suitable for residential, commercial, and industrial construction.

Are you interested in using insulated concrete forms for a construction project? Click here to contact the team from SuperForm. Our innovative ICF system outperforms the competition in several ways. Reach out now to learn more about the benefits of SuperForm ICFs.

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