Vertical ICFs: Easy Concrete Exteriors Create New Opportunities for Seasoned Pro

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“Vertical ICFs: they’re easier to build with, they save labor costs, and they result in lower utility bills.”

— Deborah Arrington



After 14 years in the construction industry, Deborah and Dale Arrington were sick of dealing with the challenges of traditional stick-frame building. Fed up with the labor it required and wood’s tendency to twist and warp, they resolved to find a new material for constructing outer walls.

“About five years ago, I set about researching other kinds of processes,” says Arrington.

“We looked at a variety of materials, such as straw bale, monolithic domes, steel framing, and traditional ICFs. Three years ago, we discovered vertical ICFs.”

“The ICF concept was intriguing, but we had seen block ICFs used in other projects and we weren’t happy with the amount of bracing, gluing, and taping they required,” says Arrington. “We chose vertical ICFs because we felt that they’d be easier to use. They require less bracing, no gluing and taping, and we wouldn’t have to deal with the issues of blowouts.”

By using vertical ICFs, Arrington was able to reduce the construction schedule by two weeks compared to stick-built.

“The walls are all there with insulation and studs, says Arrington. You just need to brace them and pour the concrete.”

“Vertical ICFs are also much less labor-intensive than wood. Since they are much lighter, they aren’t as physically taxing so there is less wear and tear on your workforce. And because they are easy to use, you don’t need to hire a lot of skilled labor. All they really require is one lead person who is familiar with the product to oversee the process and instruct the laborers.”

Arrington’s transition to vertical ICFs was relatively smooth. “The major hurdle was getting over the mindset of having used wood for everything before and then changing over to a completely different material,” says Arrington. “But that challenge can be overcome by realizing that your new method of building is going to be easier and will create a better product. You just do it.”


Arrington has completed five projects using vertical ICFs, but started with her own home.

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