What Marries Well with ICF? (Composite Floor Systems, Radiant Heating & Synthetic Stucco)


*Hambro composite floor system being installed on Fox Blocks ICF walls in Poway, CA in 2014. Provided by Forming Solutions ICF.

Knowing the value and capabilities in ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) construction is only the first step in making your home or development as cost efficient and beneficial as possible. Systems and products that marry well with ICF structural walls will drive progress and lower costs while adding extra benefits for the ICF building. Want more bang for your buck? Then we suggest you consider intelligent integration when building your home or development. We’ve worked with many products, but we have chosen three systems that we believe marry the best with Insulated Concrete Forms and deliver faster and more cost efficient production: Composite Floors, Radiant Heating, and Synthetic Stucco.

Composite Floor Systems:

Providing a higher level of strength, insulation, increased fire retention, and noise reductions achievements, composite floor systems are essentially the best fit for achieving the highest capabilities in any type of ICF building. These integrated floors encapsulate the insulated walls by a continuous suspended slab of concrete. This creates a tight building envelope when this system is used as a floor system, roof system or both.

Strength of the structure is greatly increased by using a composite floor system. This is due to the fact that reinforced floors help transfer horizontal loads, giving the building more resistance to natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornados.

An additional benefit when using composite floor systems is that you can eliminate extra costs in labor and materials. Constructed with 50% less weight than precast floors, this system can greatly reduce concrete and steel costs, contributing to direct savings in these materials during construction. Composite floors also minimize shoring and bulkheads by using the existing ICF walls for the 3” – 4″ concrete slab of the floor. Often times plumbing and electrical installation can be faster as well because large duct openings in the composite floor joists provide easy to access transitions for pipe and wires. Because of the obvious benefits and capabilities of composite floor systems, many certified ICF installers are now knowledgeable in composite floor system installs which can minimize the amount of trade contractors on a project, therefore reducing labor costs and improving production time. Knowing that you will be saving money on materials before construction even begins is nice, but reducing costs of time and labor ensures that you continue to save money throughout the building process. With composite floor systems you will see the savings of both.

Radiant Heating Systems:


*Radiant heated bathroom floor in ICF home in Santa Barbara, CA completed in 2015. Provided by DD Ford Construction.

Working hand in hand with composite floor systems, integrating radiant heating into the flooring of an ICF structure offers even more benefits. Insulated panels for radiant heated floors create efficient heat distribution through concrete slab floors, delivering more R-value in the development of a project which in turn lowers energy costs. With insulated, mushroom shaped panel nubs, a high strength cross-linked polyethylene pipe system (or PEX) can be quickly placed and interlocked, with minimal labor and production time.

Not only is radiant heating energy efficient but it also creates healthier living environments. Free of ducts that blow hot air into your home, radiant heating greatly reduces circulated air that can often carry allergens and dust into your living space. Combined with a tight building envelope achieved by ICF walls and composite floor systems, radiant heating is the next step in ensuring the cleanest air, most energy efficient heating system and overall the most comfortable home possible.

Synthetic Stucco Application:  

Transitioning from integrated applications inside an ICF structure, products and systems that marry well on the outside are just as important. Applying synthetic stucco to ICF walls is highly recommended in place of any other exterior finish. Synthetic stucco is easy to install on ICF walls and as we know, fast application saves costs in time and labor and offers a quicker schedule to complete the exterior finish in time sensitive situations. A three coat, Exterior Insulation Finish System (EIFS) contains a super-bonding agent to adhere stucco directly to the EPS foam already on the outside of an ICF wall. Most installation requires minor rasping, creating texture on the wall then applying a base coat, reinforced mesh and two final finish coats. Synthetic stucco is produced in a wide array of colors and textures so you’re able to achieve beautiful finishes without compromising ease of application and durability of the exterior finish to your home or building.

Manufactured with high abrasion and impact resistance ratings, synthetic stucco products can sustain impacts of 3500 psi or more. Synthetic stucco is also extremely waterproof and resistant to freeze/thaw damage which means it works great in cold damp climates. Offering protection against mold and mildew is an added benefit, helping the homeowner attain low maintenance costs in their investment.

Perhaps the most valued aspect about synthetic versus conventional stucco, is its capability to produce less shrinkage and cracking. Due to the reduction in water displacement and the synthetic plaster being properly supported by mesh yet free to move independently, there is almost no shrinkage and very rarely any cracking at all in the finish. Using synthetic stucco offers a modern, intelligent and lasting solution to a classic look in architecture and design. This exterior finishing system allows the beautiful home or development you deserve come to life.


*Synthetic stucco finish completed on an ICF home in Murrieta, CA in 2016. Provided by Forming Solutions ICF.

The ICF industry is innovating everyday and as new and inspiring products are developed, we feel it is up to us to continue to find the things that create harmony in ICF construction. Homeowners, builders and developers seek cost efficiency and productivity and we strive to achieve these things without sacrificing benefits, strength and the highest quality in building. At Forming Solutions, we believe with applications like the ones mentioned here, we are on track producing what will soon be a standard in today’s industry. Build smart, build green and break free of conventional and outdated approaches to construction.