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Rebar Explained – A Comprehensive Guide to Rebar in ICFs

May 22, 2019

Compared to conventional foundation walls, ICFs require more rebar.  However you can have a 6” thick concrete wall with ICF opposed to an 8” conventional foundation wall in most cases.  Therefore the extra rebar can save you 2” of concrete throughout your foundation walls.

Since ICFs incorporate more rebar and are considered reinforced concrete walls, they will allow you to build a taller wall giving you a higher ceiling height compared to conventional concrete walls.

Rebar is used to solve structural design requirements related primarily to compression, tension and shear loads.  Rebar will also control concrete shrinkage cracks.

Vertical Rebar in the Footing

Steel reinforcing dowels should extend a minimum of 40 times bar diameter in height from the top of the footing to match the size, spacing and position of the vertical reinforcement required in the foundation wall.

Concrete is strong under compression loads, but tensile strength is much lower.  Rebar for below grade foundation walls with backfill on the exterior face is always installed in the inside third of the wall which is the tension side of the wall. For above grade or Party Wall applications the rebar is typically placed in the middle of the wall.

When you look in the Advantage ICF block you will see rebar clips on the plastic webs that space the 2 layers of EPS.

Horizontal Rebar in ICF Courses

Once the first course of ICFs is complete, place rebar horizontally in the appropriate rebar clips in the web, following your engineering specifications (or the design tables in the Advantage ICF System Technical Manual). The horizontal rebar is staggered in order to allow the vertical rebar to be placed between the horizontal bars after all the courses are in place. For below grade ICF Walls install your horizontal rebar in clip #1 (the first inside rebar saddle)  on the first row of block and #3 (the third rebar saddle) on the second row and alternating between #1 and #3 for all the sub sequential courses of block.

Rebar is typically on the tension side of the wall (or the inner third in most cases) However, for a more in-depth descriptions, see the Advantage ICF System Technical Manual.

Staggering the rebar from row to row creates a “weave” effect that enables the horizontal rebar to cage (another term “hold” works also) your vertical rebar in place. Vertical rebar is installed once the wall is at full height.

Install the specified vertical reinforcing steel by sliding it down between the offset lengths of horizontal rebar. This creates a ‘weave’ effect that enables the horizontal rebar to hold the vertical rebar in place.

Job site tips for rebar

● Make sure you know where on the job site you want the rebar unloaded.

● Keep the rebar as clean as possible from dirt and other contamination as this will affect the performance

● Cut 4 foot lengths and pre-bend them for corners and T-Walls

● Have a proper rebar cutter and bender on site or arrange to have this done for you prior to having the rebar delivered to achieve required tolerances.

● Place plastic caps over the top of vertical rebar sticking out of footings or walls to prevent injury from sharp ends .

You can click the following link to find out what rebar you will need for your job.

It is critical to review all applicable building codes and ICF manufacture’s engineering, technical manuals as well as Code Reports to understand the proper spacing and sizing requirements of rebar.


Advantage ICF Technical Manual

Advantage ICF Installation Manual

Advantage ICF Detail Manual

Advantage ICF System Checklist

Advantage ICF Field Guide

If you have any questions about the rebar placement for your project, call us today at (888) 446-5377.

Plasti-Fab® Commercial Construction Series – Above Grade Wall Solutions

May 20, 2019

Last week we covered what an energy efficient commercial building looks like below grade. Now we are continuing with our build as we move to the types of products and construction methods for the above grade walls. Our goal with this building is to ensure that we maintain an energy efficient thermal envelope for the highest performing structure.

Now that we have moved above-grade, the options available to builders and developers alike are much greater than below-grade. It is a good practice to always check with the local building codes prior to making your product selections for the project.  

Some key factors to consider when deciding on your construction materials include quality of materials, technical support during your build process, and job site labor shortages that are sweeping the industry. Because we are a vertically-integrated organization, we maintain quality throughout the manufacturing process. The products we are about to cover range in installation skill, but in general will help your project come together quickly, to meet your completion deadlines.

Energy efficient exterior walls saves on heating and cooling costs for your building.

The first wall system we are going to cover for a commercial building is the Advantage ICF System®. Our patented forming system provides 5 steps in 1: Structural strength, studding, vapour barrier, air barrier and external sheathing resulting in reduced construction time. Advantage ICF System makes your building energy efficient, quiet and comfortable. ICF construction is the fastest growing construction method for both full commercial and renovation projects. To learn more about how the Advantage ICF System can be used in your next commercial project: CLICK HERE

The Advantage ICF System is a good choice for commercial construction due to the R-values, STC ratings and height you can go with the block.

Another common construction method for insulated wall systems in commercial construction are Precast Concrete Tilt up wall panels. Precast concrete panels in walls and floors can be easily and economically insulated by incorporating Plasti-Fab PlastiSpan insulation into the panel at time of manufacture. The panel when placed provides a fully insulated finished wall or floor section. Learn More

Insulation sandwiched between concrete during the manufacturing provides a quick, easy installation of precast insulated walls.

We recently had an in depth blog series on our next exterior insulating wall system Exterior Insulating Finishing Systems also known as EIFS. PlastiSpan EFS insulation used in EIFS applications covers the outside of the building so that the structure is isolated from the wide temperature fluctuations of the climate. This reduces expansion and contraction of the structure and stabilizes interior temperatures. Learn More

EIFS provide an insulated, finished look for the exterior of commercial buildings. Many hotels and professional offices are finished using EIFS.

Before we talk about exterior insulating sheathing solutions, we are going to look at one more insulated building system that is a great solution for commercial construction: Insulspan® Structural Insulated Panels. Some of the benefits of building your commercial walls using the Insulspan SIP System include the increased efficiency of SIPS allows you to downsize your hvac requirements. You can span longer without the need for posts, allowing for an open floor plan. Varying thicknesses meet the specific building code requirements for your area easily. Use our RTA solution to easily repeat structures across the country, Meet energy codes in any location, without altering the design or materials. To learn more about how the Insulspan SIP System can help you achieve your energy efficient project goals, CLICK HERE.

Insulspan Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS) provide energy efficient wall solutions.

The last type of insulation solutions we will be covering today for above grade walls in commercial construction is exterior insulating sheathing, also known as continuous insulation. While we have many different options for exterior sheathing, we are going to highlight 3 main choices for commercial construction. These insulation solutions are easy to cut and install on site, lightweight and easy to handle, and are available in a variety of thicknesses to provide you with the R-values you need to achieve your energy ratings on your project.

DuroFoam® Exterior Sheathing: Use DuroFoam insulation for exterior sheathing for a continuous insulation solution on your next commercial construction project.  Laminated/branded product with thin film on both sides, Long term R-value 3.75/in., Closed cell insulation resists moisture, CCMC 12424-L Learn More

DuroFoam Insulation as Exterior Sheathing

EnerSpan® Exterior Sheathing – EnerSpan® is a moulded graphite expanded polystyrene (GPS) insulation with a silver- gray colour. Manufactured using Neopor® provided by BASF, a
graphite-enhanced raw material that reduces radiation heat transfer resulting in higher thermal resistance (R-value) of 4.7 per inch Learn More

EnerSpan® Insulation for exterior sheathing for commercial construction

DuroSpan® GPS Exterior Sheathing – Provides Continuous Insulation Required by Energy Codes. DuroSpan® GPS is manufactured using a graphite- enhanced expandable polystyrene (GPS) insulation with a thin film laminated to the top and bottom surfaces. Learn More

DuroSpan® GPS insulation for exterior sheathing

With so many options available for building energy efficient commercial buildings, it may be difficult to decide which building method is best for your project. We are happy to help! Contact us today and we can help you decide on the best solution for your project.

Stay tuned for next week when we put the roof on our commercial building!

Plasti-Fab Commercial Construction Series – Better Building Below Grade

May 13, 2019

Last week we introduced our commercial series in EPS (expanded Polystyrene) product solutions, and this week we jump into the below grade products and applications. While all the building components & materials are important to a well insulated and energy efficient structure, it all starts with a good foundation.

Under slab insulation for energy efficiency and compressive resistance is key in commercial construction. Selection of which product you need under your slab is dependent on local building codes, loads calculated for the building, and energy requirements.

Check out our Step by Step Installation Sheet for installing EPS insulation under slab

PlastiSpan® EPS Insulation has multiple thicknesses, R-values and compressive resistance characteristics to help you meet those requirements. The closed cell structure of the EPS is resistant to moisture, eliminates thermal bridging, and maintains its R-value reducing overall energy costs of the building. Some of our under slab rigid insulation include:

PlastiSpan® HD Insulation: This is a type 2 insulation with 16 psi and an R-value of 4.04 per inch for Canada or R4.2 per inch in the US. PlastiSpan® HD is listed with CAN-ULC, CCMC 12425-L and ASTM C578. Learn More about this product: Canada | USA

PlastiSpan® 20 Insulation: PlastiSpan 20 insulation’s minimum compressive resistance of 140 kPa (20 psi) makes it ideal to insulate low temperature freezer floors or for use in other applications where moderate loads are expected. Learn more here!

PlastiSpan® 25 Insulation: Using PlastiSpan 25 insulation underslab provides 25 psi compressive resistance with 4.27 R-value per inch. PlastiSpan 25 meets code requirements and is easy to cut and install in commercial applications. Canada | USA

PlastiSpan® 30 Insulation: PlastiSpan® 30 Insulation: The closed cell structure of PlastiSpan 30 resists water absorption so it will retain its R-value even in applications where severe temperature differentials occur, making it a great under slab solution for commercial buildings. Learn More about this product: Canada | USA

PlastiSpan® 40 Insulation: High compressive resistance for geotechnical applications – Compressive Strength 40 psi, No thermal drift, Less than 2% water absorption Learn More about this product: Canada | USA

Using Radon Guard Insulation in your commercial building both insulates under slab and is a key component in a Radon Mitigation system.

With the need for Radon Mitigation systems on the rise, Plasti-Fab developed an insulation solution to both insulate under your slab while allowing Radon to move through the mitigation system and out of your structure. Radon Guard is a key component in a Radon mitigation system.
Radon Guard insulation is the code compliant one-to-one replacement for a 100 mm thick layer of granular material, the prescriptive solution required by building codes. Watch how to install Radon Guard Now.

The last area of below grade solutions we are covering today are geotechnical. Sometimes soil integrity is not ideal for a large commercial structure, or there may be other geotechnical requirements that need to be addressed in order to make the structure a success. In those instances, Plasti-Fab has two specific products: GeoVoid® Compressible Fill Material & GeoSpan® Compressible Fill material.

Learn about a school that used GeoVoid® Compressible Fill for soil stabilization

GeoVoid® and GeoSpan® are compressible fill material expanded polystyrene products designed to act as a compressible medium between swelling soils and structural elements. Unaffected By water, Engineered for your commercial construction needs, easily adaptable on site to meet dimensions.

Explore our Geotechnical Solutions today at:

Stay tuned for next week when we cover Commercial Construction – Energy Efficient Wall Solutions!

For More information on EPS Product Solutions for Commercial Construction check out Commercial Solutions on

Better Building Ideas from the Ground up: Commercial Series

May 6, 2019

Welcome to our commercial construction series where we will essentially “build” a commercial structure with Plasti-Fab’s energy efficient EPS products. Over the course of the next month, we will begin with below grade applications and work our way all the way to the roof!

Below Grade Solutions

Every good structure starts with a good foundation. In our EPS product solutions for commercial construction series we will be covering below grade products for applications such as soil stabilization, compressible fill material, geotechnical requirements, high compressive resistant insulation, as well as below grade wall solutions. During our series, we will address multiple product solutions for the different type of below grade applications as Plasti-Fab manufactures multiple product solutions that can be used in your project.

Above Grade Wall Solutions

Depending on the type of commercial structure your project entails, there are multiple insulation solutions to choose from in order to suit the building needs. As a manufacturer of not just a wide variety of rigid foam options but also ICF block, insulation for EIFS, structural insulated panels (SIPs), and precast concrete tilt up walls, we will be addressing multiple types of above grade wall solutions in our series.

Roof Insulation

Lastly, we will finish up our series by completing the roof of our structure. Again, with varying options to choose from to create a highly efficient thermal envelope, this series will include roofing solutions such as PlastiSpan® sloped roofing insulation, Insulspan® SIPS, as well as rigid foam options for your commercial project.

At Plasti-Fab the success of our customers is important to us. We work with you throughout your commercial construction project to ensure the best customer service experience.

The Better Building Ideas Solution

We are excited to begin this series and share the EPS product solutions for a better built commercial building. Whether you are the owner who will be receiving the reduced energy bills due to the highly efficient structure, or the contractor who needs to complete the project in a short time frame, Plasti-Fab has insulation solutions to make your project a success.

About Plasti-Fab

Plasti-Fab’s mission is to provide its customers with expanded polystyrene (EPS) Product Solutions for constructing energy efficient buildings, floatation for marine construction, lightweight fill and compressible fill for Geotechnical construction projects, and component solutions for Original Equipment Manufacturers.

With manufacturing locations all across Canada and the United States, we supply products that are code-listed in both the US and Canada, as well as GreenGuard® Gold certified, we help you reach your project goals through a variety of products.

Learn more about Plasti-Fab Commercial Solutions.

GeoFoam Solutions by Plasti-Fab – Not your average fill material

April 29, 2019

You may have heard the term “geofoam” and thought to yourself, “Okay, so I replace my dirt with foam and move on…” But in reality, it is far more versatile than one would initially think. Generically speaking, geofoam is an engineered product that stabilizes roads, embankments, buildings, and nearly everything that would sit on regular soil fill material and require a lot of compacting and dirt. The strength and compressive resistance of geofoam is what makes it the star of today’s feature.

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) geofoam has been used as a geotechnical material since the 1960s. EPS geofoam is approximately 1% the weight of soil and less than 10% the weight of other lightweight fill alternatives. As a lightweight fill, EPS geofoam reduces the loads imposed on adjacent and underlying soils and structures. EPS geofoam is not a general soil fill replacement material but is intended to solve engineering challenges. The use of EPS typically translates into benefits to construction schedules and lowers the overall cost of construction because it is easy to handle during construction, often without the need for special equipment, and is unaffected by occurring weather conditions.

Applications using geofoam

EPS geofoam is inherently multi-functional, which makes it effective to use in a wide variety of applications. It offers special advantages for construction on soft ground, slope stabilization and retaining walls. EPS geofoam has been used in road and airfield pavements and railway track
systems, beneath refrigerated storage buildings, sports arenas and storage tanks to prevent ground freezing and heaving and in below-ground building segments to reduce seasonal heating and cooling requirements.

With unprecedented strength and flexibility, EPS geofoam also offers innovative solutions to a range of problems, including protection from earthquake shock and noise and vibration dampening.

You can learn more about geofoam applications on our Geofoam Solutions tab on 

The list of applications that benefit from geofoam solutions is lengthy, and may surprise you that it is not JUST a below grade solution. Applications include:

  • Road construction over poor soils
  • Road widening
  • Bridge abutment
  • Bridge underfill
  • Culverts, pipelines & buried structures
  • Compensating foundation
  • Rail embankment
  • Landscaping & vegetative green roofs
  • Retaining and buried wall backfill
  • Slope stabilization
  • Stadium & theater seating
  • Levees
  • Airport runway/taxiway
  • Foundations for lightweight structures
  • Special Applications
  • Noise and vibration damping
  • Compression application
  • Seismic application
  • Rockfall/impact protection
  • Permafrost embankments

Plasti-Fab has been manufacturing geofoam for over 50 years. Here are just a few projects that benefited from using geofoam as their solution.

Manitoba middle school relies on GeoVoid® compressible fill material for soil stabilization
Plasti-Fab GeoSpec®saves unstable slope along South Saskatchewan River
Plasti-Fab® GeoSpec® lightweight fill material simplifies Ontario bridge construction
Plasti-Fab® GeoSpec® lightweight fill material speeds construction of new elementary school

The Power of Geofoam – A case study on the use of Plasti-Fab GeoFoam for Soil Stabilization

April 15, 2019

Check out the video or read the transcript below to learn how Geofoam EPS was an integral soil stabilization solution for an Elementary school.

In 2000, the elementary school in isolated Attawapiskat first Nations communities of northern Ontario was closed due to unsafe conditions. despite numerous promises to build a new school it took over a decade before funding is finally authorized. ground was finally broken on the new 19,056 ft.² Attawapiskat elementary school April 2012.

Built to provide a safe and permanent new school for over 500 students will also serve as a community facility and flooded evacuation point in the surrounding area. To facilitate this, design team at PB architects was required to elevate the school roughly 8 feet above the unstable soil conditions of the floodplain.

However the short construction deadline meant it wouldn’t be enough time for the soil to settle, so the architects turned to Plasti-Fab geospan expanded polystyrene EPS Geofoam as the structural lightweight solution.

Geospec reduces the load on underlying soils which would minimize the amount of settlement and stabilizing needed for the schools built up foundation.

It is 20 to 30 times lighter than other alternatives, a critical factor because of the distance the materials needed to be transported by barge.

Taking out approximately a foot of soil they added gravel and sand, and added about 4 feet of Geospec. More sand and gravel and finished it with a concrete slab.

The ease of installation accompanied without the use of heaven earth handling equipment sped up the extremely tight construction schedule and was an integral part of the fast and solid construction of the Attawapiskat First Nation school.

To learn more about Geofoam and it’s applications, visit Geofoam Solutions on

Indiana Department of Transportation chooses Plasti-Fab® EPS Geofoam for road improvements in LaPorte

April 10, 2019

Special Project Feature

Using Plasti-Fab geofoam, crews worked quickly to complete the road improvements.

Dramatic weather conditions experienced by much of the midwest region affect not only travel, but the integrity of the roadways themselves. This was the case for a stretch of highway near LaPorte, Indiana.

Instead of the annual road construction projects that are common in that area, the Indiana DOT decided to bring on a team of people to proactively rework the road with more than just dirt and concrete.

General Contractor Reith Reilly, paired with contractor Dyer Construction, Design Engineer American StructurePoint and Construction Engineer HW Lochner decided to take a different route for their SR 14 roadwork project.
The project team turned to Plasti-Fab, an EPS manufacturer of geofoam solutions to provide the specified product for the job. Working with the project engineers, Plasti-Fab designed the GeoSpec® EPS 22 to meet the needs of the road and soil conditions.

The first shipment of Plasti-Fab GeoSpec® arrived on the job site on August 14, and by August 24th, a mere 10 days later, 3,778 cubic yards of geofoam was installed and the project completed. GeoSpec® lightweight fill material is expanded polystyrene (EPS) geofoam used in ground fill applications where a lightweight fill material is required. EPS geofoam has been used in projects involving a wide variety of applications worldwide for over 50 years.

Learn more about Plasti-Fab’s geofoam solutions at