Insulating concrete formwork (ICF) is an insulated in-situ concrete system of building that is quick to construct and offers levels of performance significantly better than alternative methods of construction.

It has been growing in the UK self-build sector for some years and is now broadening into the mainstream including UK housing associations and regional house builders. It is one of just four approved walling systems for domestic basements (see www.basements.org.uk).

ICF is based on hollow lightweight block components that lock together without intermediate bedding materials, such as mortar, to provide a formwork system into which concrete is poured. The blocks are formed of panels of insulation material, usually expanded polystyrene, tied together with plastic or steel ties. Some systems are delivered complete and others are fabricated on site.

Concrete is poured into the forms which can be built up to 3 metres high as a complete wall. This is normally done by pump. Once the concrete has cured, it becomes a high strength concrete frame structure with the formwork remaining in place as thermal insulation, providing U-values ranging from current Building Regulation requirements down to 0.10 W/m²K – ideal for Passivhaus. The building process is quick, tidy and precise, with lower equipment requirements than alternative methods and requires only semi-skilled labour.

Creative design (without compromising performance) is encouraged by the availability of a comprehensive range of components, further enhanced by the option to incorporate reinforcement for basements or multi-storey projects. The highly insulated structure may be clad internally and externally with a wide range of finishes, including plaster, masonry, curtain walling and renders.


Insulating Concrete Formwork has many benefits over traditional building methods

The Designer and ICF

Design Flexibility, Variety of Finishes, Compatible to Other Building Systems, Higher Building Performance Standards


The Developer and ICF

Fast track construction, Reduced labour costs, Less down-time, Immediate follow-on trades, Simple service installation


The Occupier and ICF

Low Running Costs, Good Acoustic Performance, Healthy Indoor Environment, Fire Resistance, Minimal Flood Damage




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