Date: April 13, 2015

Increased Quiet & Comfort Through Design

Increased Quiet & Comfort Through Design

For our second feature on Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) construction, here are some statistics and information on how an ICF home or office space offers greater comfort, peace, and quiet from these three characteristics: consistency of insulation, thermal mass, and air infiltration.

1.       Consistency of Insulation:

In ICF construction, a larger percentage of the wall area is insulated or roughly 20% more than a typical wood frame home or building. 

2.       Thermal Mass

Since an ICF wall includes a significant amount of concrete this increases the thermal mass property to even out temperature fluctuations over time.

3.       Air Infiltration:

ICF walls are also exceptional airtight.  Buildings utilizing this material had one-third to one-half as much air infiltration as a wood frame building.

Added Bonus:

Since ICF has a much higher insulation factor, exterior noises are greatly reduced adding to the peace and quiet factor.  A Sound Transmission Class (STC) is used to measure in decibels how much sound travels from one wide of a wall to the other.  A standard 10 or 11 inch ICF wall with a 6 inch concrete core has STC ratings from 50 to 55.  That means shouting from the other side of the wall is either barely heard or not at all.  Wood stud walls constructed from 2 x 4s and uninsulated have a STC rating of around 33.  This is equivalent to normal speech on the other side of the wall being heard but not understood. 

To increase the STC rating and meet particular building codes in wood frame construction, two layers of ½” drywall on each side must be used plus batt insulation.  This makes ICF much more attractive as it sets the bar with no additional cost.

When it comes to overall sound reduction, one-quarter to one-eighth of sound penetrates through an ICF wall.  Common stories told my ICF home or building owners have been:

“I looked out the window and saw the traffic on the road, but I couldn’t hear it.”

“While talking with my neighbor one morning, he asked if the thunderstorm the night before woke me up, too.  But until that moment I never even realized we’d had one.” 

Comfort and quiet is especially important to those in the hospitality industry.  ICF is the construction material of choice for Marriott, Hilton, Best Western, and the Holiday Inn were reducing or eliminating noise from between units, halls, and exercise rooms is pertinent for their clientele.  ICF is also a popular choice for theatres, buildings and homes near airports, railways, and noisy industrial sites.