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Homeowner creates hurricane-resistant home with Advantage ICF System®

November 17, 2017

Advantage ICF
Advantage ICF System®  – Seabrook Island, South Carolina, USA

A little over a year ago we published this article on a homeowner who used our Advantage ICF System to build their home for not just the energy efficiency aspect, but also the strength and security offer by ICFs against Mother Nature. With the rash of hurricanes affecting so many areas in the south, we want to highlight the building system as a viable option to withstand such climate impacts as the recent hurricanes.

South Carolina ICFArchitect Bruce Eason of New South Design specializes in classic, old world, custom home design. Many of his designs are also sold as house plans through his company New South Classics. Eason was contacted by a homeowner interested in constructing his popular Seabrook home plan on the southeast coast of Seabrook Island, outside of Charleston, South Carolina.

“We took our Seabrook design, with traditional stick framing, and modified it to withstand the forces of nature as this house was to be built right on the water,” said Eason. “The owner wanted to be sure that they had enough structure to handle the wind and water loads that typical hurricanes with wind and tidal surges could produce, and meet applicable building codes.”

icf blog 02Working with a structural engineer, Eason specified the Advantage ICF System® for the above grade walls. The Advantage ICF System delivers two continuous layers of expanded polystyrene insulation for exceptional energy efficiency, along with the strength and durability of reinforced concrete. Light gauge steel framing was used for the roof and interior walls.

“The Charleston summers are hot and humid,” said Eason. “ICF construction added greatly to the thermal protection for increased efficiency and comfort. The strength of the ICFs combined with the all steel framing is very important in hurricane prone areas. In this area you’ve got wind, water, heat and humidity—ICFs help mitigate all of that.”

Despite the home’s robust structure that is designed to withstand 140 mph winds, it retains the character of an authentic turn-ofthe- century Charleston-style home.

“You can use a new technology like ICFs and finish with a home that looks appropriate in the Charleston Lowcountry,” said Eason. “What’s behind the walls is very different than what you expect. It is very high-tech, energy-efficient, and it enhances the safety and durability of the house.”

icf blog 03“The home provides us with a great example of disaster-resistant and energy-efficient construction using the Advantage ICF System,” said Advantage ICF System Product Manager Greg Doren.

For more information on the strength of ICFs and how to integrate them into your project, visit

Heritage Dream Home Uses Plasti-Fab Building Systems

November 10, 2017

A heritage dream home to be passed down through the generations

Calgary, Alberta

Just outside a small town in Alberta’s southeastern Battle River Valley area, a home for the ages is coming to life. On a swath of private farmland owned by a single family for over a century, builder of high-end energy efficient custom homes Dave Graff is erecting a 3,300 s.f. design that will offer sweeping prairie vistas when completed. Right from the original vision and planning, this is a heritage dream home to be passed down through the generations. But the warm and rustic timber frame design belies the durable, efficient, enduring technology within its foundation, walls, and roof.

Dave said he recommended Advantage ICF (insulating concrete form) System® to provide structural foundation strength because of its reputation for quality, and the name behind the product. “Building a home with future generations in mind means you need a foundation product that will last and is backed by a reputable company.” He also noted that Advantage ICF is easy to use, and does the jobs of a cribber, framer, and installer combined, which is something a builder looks for.

That the product has been manufactured for 20 years only 350 kilometres away and is available through his local building materials supplier, is a bonus. The walls of this heritage home required a high-performing energy efficient product. “The best way for them to seal the envelope was to use the Insulspan® SIP (structural insulating panel) System,” explains Doug Dyck, a Plasti-Fab sales representative for the product. Not only do the 6½” SIP walls with an R-value of R-22.5 provide the airtight curtain wall to ensure a long future of energy savings, they easily meet the province’s new energy code requirements. The 10¼” SIP roof panels with an R-value of R-36.6 finish off the envelope, and allow for the home’s beautiful cathedral ceilings and elegant roof lines.

SIPs also offer a similarly high ease of use element. Since manufacturing dimensions are taken directly from approved architectural blueprints, there is little chance of error, and an increase in product quality. With the RTA (ready to assemble) package, everything necessary for assembly is included, making for a quick install, plus time and money saved by not having to shop around for the right accessories.

Dave offers a final point for choosing Advantage ICF and Insulspan SIPs for this heritage home: the people behind the product. “We’ve had a relationship with Plasti-Fab for years, and their commitment to service is among the highest I’ve seen – and it rivals our own.”


Learn more about Plasti-Fab’s Building Systems today at 

Bracing & Scaffolding for Advantage ICF Projects

October 24, 2017

What Types of bracing/scaffolding are available for my ICF project

First of all what are bracing/scaffolding systems and what are they used for? These systems support the wall and allow people to work off the ground to reach higher up the walls. They also give you the ability to plumb the wall during and after the concrete pour. After you have installed the third course of blocks it is usually time to install the scaffolding and bracing system. If you are tall enough, you may be able to wait until after the fourth course or you can work from ladders. There are three common types used each will be described below.

Wood Scaffolding

Wood Scaffolding

The most common type of bracing/scaffolding system used by a one-time ICF builder is wood. Wood bracing usually consists of 2 2×4’s nailed together to form an “L” or strong back. This is attached to the ICF blocks every 5’-6’ screwing into the block vertically every 8”-24”. Screw the braces into the Advantage ICF ties using 3” screws.

Attach scaffold brackets and/or handrail brackets to the vertical braces. These brackets are usually placed roughly 30”-36” below the finish pour height of the wall or whatever height constitutes a comfortable working height to place and finish the concrete.

Turnbuckles are adjustable bracing devices that hold walls steady. Adjust the alignment of the walls before and after the concrete has been poured using turnbuckles. Install the turnbuckle part of the bracing system by attaching the diagonal brace, complete with turnbuckles, to the vertical braces with a short piece of 10M rebar. Before securing the bottom part of the unit to the ground, make sure the turnbuckle is adjusted to a central point. This will make it easier to make adjustments later on.

Metal Scaffolding

Metal Scaffolding

Metal bracing/scaffolding basically consists of all three of the components described above. The obvious differences are that they are made of metal instead of wood.
Because they are made of metal they are much more durable than wood type scaffolding. They are made specifically for pouring, bracing and adjusting ICF walls. The metal types are typically more adjustable than most other types. You can easily adjust the platform height, and wall plumb and straightness both before and after the concrete pour.

Tube Frame Scaffolding
Typically this type of scaffolding would be used on a commercial job with very high wall heights. It can be adapted to work with an ICF wall under construction. The wall is plumbed true, so it is critical the wall be attached to the scaffolding in a way that it will not move. This can be accomplished using a variety of methods, utilizing the ICF webs. There are also adaptor kits that allow this type of scaffolding to incorporate ICF metal scaffolding for commercial and high wall applications.

Tube Frame Scaffolding

Tube Frame Scaffolding

Tube Frame Scaffolding

Tube Frame Scaffolding: Used Commercially

Additional information on bracing and scaffolding can be found in the Advantage ICF System Installation Manual pg 24-26. Also see installation video on our website at:

Note: ensure you follow your local OH&S codes when installing scaffolding platforms and hand rails.

Advantages of Advantage – Builder/Contractor Perspective

October 20, 2017

Advantages of Advantage
Builder/contractor perspective

By guest writer, Doug Dyck

When I first saw the Advantage ICF System, I thought to myself what a no brainer, it just makes sense. No plywood forms to lift, place and strip, no form ties to insert and strip and no form oil to apply. The Advantage ICF System is three steps in one, (forms, insulation and framing) with the benefits of a warmer basement, faster construction time and less concrete than a conventional foundation. The Advantage ICF System is one of the simplest ICF systems to put together. It was designed with the contractor in mind. With things like 1” marking lines on both sides of the block, this helps by keeping your tape measure in your tool belt. The Advantage ICF system has a patented tongue and groove block interlock system instead of the typical dimpled style joint. The T&G interlock helps lock each row together and is easier to clean out when things like dirt or snow get in the way. The T&G interlock also forces ties (studs) to align vertically and the 1-5/8” wide flanges on the ties make fastening finish materials much easier.

Advantage block was designed at 16 ½” high allowing you to achieve an 8’-3” wall height with 6 rows of block. This will give you the typical 8’ ceiling height after pouring your 4” slab and placing your sill plate on the top of your ICF wall.

Jason, a contractor who has been building Advantage ICF foundations and homes since 2005 says that he chose Advantage for the ease of installation. The 1” marking lines on the forms make it hugely beneficial from a time saving perspective. Another benefit of the T&G interlock design is less waste since it allows him to use cutoffs in other parts of the foundation and to be more efficient in constructing his foundations. He has tried other ICF’s on occasion and has found that they usually take an extra day of install time and that means less money in his pocket. He also appreciated that it was his local hardware store that first suggested that he start building with the Advantage ICF System and he could deal locally. Quoting with the Advantage ICF System has been very easy and now that his entire crew is trained, it has allowed him to spend less time on site and improve his profit margins. The delivery system that is in place with the Advantage ICF System is incomparable with any other in the industry, even during the busy season, this contractor can expect his order to be delivered direct to his jobsite.

Les, another builder with 10 years building experience with the Advantage ICF System, believes that the building envelope is the most important component in a home. This builder constructs upscale and refined energy efficient homes and is considered experts in this field. One of the benefits they enjoy is the ties being embedded in the insulation which allows for acrylic stucco to be directly applied without having to add EIFS to the wall.

Dave, a custom home builder, wanted to differentiate himself from other builders. He found the Advantage ICF System at their local hardware store and after doing their research, found all the benefits that the system offered. They liked the energy efficient aspect, the fact that they could use less skilled labour, letting them allocate skilled workers to more demanding tasks. The interlock system also makes it easier for odd sized walls, which is very common in the custom market. It allows for flexibility, and if the blocks remain unaltered the ties correctly align, which makes it much easier to apply the drywall or siding. The 1” inch incremental lines on the block are a great help when constructing a wall. After the first two rows are placed you shouldn’t need a tape measure for any cuts other than windows. You just copy the cuts on the first two rows and if you follow the proper procedures you should have no problems keeping the wall lengths correct. These lines save you time on your build, and can allow for the use of less skilled labour. If they can count, they can cut block for you. Dave likes the fact the blocks are delivered right to his site when he wants them. The insulated ties on advantage have two main benefits. The first is that it stops a thermal bridge from the outside to the inside of the block. When you have an exposed tie it allows for temperature transfers, and when building energy efficient homes every bit counts. The second advantage is that it allows the use of acrylic stucco to be applied directly on to the block. When you have exposed ties you have to add a layer of EPS in order for the stucco to adhere properly. Dave feels the Advantage ICF System is the way of the future, especially with the new building codes about to come into effect.

As you can see, I could write a book about all of the benefits of building with the Advantage ICF System. Not only will building with the Advantage ICF system save the end used or homeowner money but it will save the contractor/builder money. By reducing labour, materials and steps along the way builders/contractors are convinced that building with ICF is the only way.

Would you like to learn more about the Advantage ICF System and how you can apply it to your upcoming projects? Check us out at

Halloween Decorations made easy with Plasti-Fab’s Handi-pac

October 18, 2017

It’s that time of year again when holiday decorations begin appearing everywhere from offices to schools to your home. Did you know you can make you OWN Halloween decorations with our handi-pac insulation? If you are setting out to create your spooky themed pieces, below is a step by step guide for working with our handi-pac foam (available at Home Depot).

What we recommend for supplies
Handi-pac, mask, gloves, safety glasses, utility knife, extra blades, paint, foam safe glue, and spray bottle of water

Safety Precautions
Just a few housekeeping best practices before we really get started…. Be sure to work in a well ventilated area (for your glue and paint), the EPS foam is safe and will not off gas any harmful chemicals. Wear protective eye wear and a dust mask when you are sanding. Use coveralls or an apron to protect your clothes. Protect the surfaces using a cutting board, an extra sheet of foam, drop sheets, etc. Always cut with the blade away from you. Supervise children.

Step by Step 
1. Create a paper template of the craft you want to make. For larger pieces, create the template for each portion and tape them together.

2. Use small pieces of masking tape to hold the template in place, then trace the outline of the drawing on to the foam with a soft, felt-tipped pen.

3. Cut the foam pieces using a sharp utility knife. Extend the blade length of the knife to the depth of the foam. Cut on a flat protected surface. Straight blades will provide a cleaner cut, where serated blades will be choppier and not as clean.

4. Smooth any rough or jagged edges with a sanding block or sand paper (fine to medium coarse) Finish your decoration using ONLY water-based paints or sprays (e.g. latex, acrylics)

Note: If you are creating a more complex decoration (like the headstones pictured) use a foam-safe glue/adhesive to assemble the parts of the decoration.

Check out our Arts and Crafts Pin on Pinterest for great Tips & Tricks when working with Plasti-Fab Handi-pac.

Show us your Halloween crafts made with handi-pac foam by tagging us on Instagram! @plastifabeps or #plastifabeps

Learn more about Handi-pac insulation at

Keeping the Cold out Part II: How to Insulate your Basement Walls

September 13, 2017

Yesterday we looked at how to begin insulating your basement by using PlastiSpan insulation on the floor. Walls can be just as important as the floor when insulating, especially if you have a walkout basement or exposed foundation walls. Our goal is energy efficiency, letting you condition your basement and providing a comfortable environment for everyone. Below we cover the second part of your basement insulation process, the walls.

Step 1: When insulating a basement wall, make sure the wall surfaces are clean, dry and free of foreign materials and sharp projections. Start from a corner attach PlastiSpan insulation to the basement wall using PL300, it’s a foam safe adhesive (there are other foam safe adhesives you can use. BUT make sure they say “foam safe”).

Step 2: Measure and cut the PlastiSpan to fit around windows. When cutting PlastiSpan insulation use a utility knife or fine tooth hand saw like a drywall saw to fit openings such as windows. You don’t need to wear gloves or a mask when cutting rigid insulation like you would with conventional fibreglass insulation.

Step 3: To create a vapour barrier, the PlastiSpan insulation should be tightly butted together. Joints should be no wider than 1 mm. You can ensure this by applying adhesive between the boards (or tape using tuck tape).

Step 4: Now to frame the wall, construct a separate wood framed wall and install it in front of the PlastiSpan insulation to support the ½” drywall. The vertical framing should be at least 2″X2″ and separated at either 16″ or 24″ on center.

Step 5: To attach the framed wall, fasten it to the upper floor joists and basement floor leaving a small gap between the PlastiSpan insulation and the framed wall. Electrical can be placed within the framed wall by running wiring behind the small gap behind the framing. You will need to use shallow electrical boxes.

Step 6: You can attach your drywall to your framed wall when this is complete.

Following these six simple steps for insulating your basement walls will help increase your energy savings and decrease your heating costs.

Want to see the video on this project? Check out How to Insulate Interior Basement Walls

Keep the Cold Out Part I: How to Insulate your Basement Floor

September 12, 2017

As we inch closer to the winter months, thoughts of comfort and heating bills are more prevalent than ever. What IS the best way to keep your warm air in, providing a comfortable environment for everyone without breaking the bank? Consider insulating your basement for added comfort and energy savings.

Take a look at your basement space – You have two areas where you can improve your energy efficiency with EPS rigid insulation, immediately affecting the comfort of the room for the better – the floor and the walls. While Plasti-Fab has a variety of insulation solutions for these applications, today we will talk about the use of PlastiSpan Insulation. (To see other insulation solutions visit: and

Now on to insulating the floor….
Follow these simple how-to steps to install your PlastiSpan Insulation to have an insulated subfloor in place and be ready to install your final floor finishing such as carpeting, tiles or linoleum.  Follow along with us as we insulate above the slab of your home….

Before you do anything, be sure to reference the building code requirements applicable in your region. Usually you will need to install a moisture barrier, cover the entire floor area with 6-mil poly.  Do this to eliminate any moisture migration. (HINT* To limit the cutting of PlastiSpan insulation plan your area to include 2×2 strapping across the floor in one direction.)

Following the installation of the moisture barrier, you will then attach perimeter nailers around the space. Use a nailer that is the same thickness as the insulation. Attach the nailers around the perimeter using self-tapping concrete screws penetrating the concrete as per the screw manufacturer’s recommendations. Now to install the PlastiSpan insulation. Cut the first row of insulation to a 21-3/4″ width. Cut subsequent rows to 22-1/2″ widths. Use the insulation cut as guides to place successive rows of nailers at 24″ on center. Continue on to the opposite wall.

Now that you have insulated the floor with PlastiSpan insulation, you can prepare to lay the subfloor. Make sure you use an appropriate subfloor material that will support the span. Check with your building supply dealer before you purchase it. It’s easier if you snap chalk lines across where the strapping is to ensure the subfloor material is placed squarely. It’s time to secure the subfloor. Be sure to stagger the subfloor joints for extra stability. (HINT *Rent an automatic nailer, screw gun or automatic screw gun it makes life easier). Secure your subfloor by adding adhesive to the strapping (Use PL300), then fasten the 5/8″subfloor directly to the nailers as per the subfloor manufacturer recommendations.

Alright now your basement is properly insulated and ready to use. You are ready for your finished floor. You will notice right away that the finished floor is more comfortable. You have created a space your family will want to spend time in, without 2 pairs of socks on their feet.

Check back with us tomorrow  for Part Two: How to Insulate your Basement Walls…