Foam Lite vs EIFS & ICF Construction

Foam Lite and/or EPS Concrete Construction panels or blocks should not be confused with EIFS, ICF or ICB construction systems.

What is EIFS, ICF, or ICB?

EIFS, which is the acronym for “Exterior Insulating Foam System”, normally uses extruded or expanded polystyrene panels as the outward facing elements on the exterior of a frame building’s outside walls. The exterior eps panels, those on the outside of the building, are normally finished in stucco.

The interior walls, those on the inside of the building, are normally gypsum drywall board. The cavity between the eps exterior panels and the interior wall board may or may not be filled with additional insulation. This type of construction is generally called an EIFS wall and is very popular in the South Eastern and South Western parts of the United States, where homes are built on slabs without foundations.

ICF, which is the acronym for “Insulating Concrete Form”, uses extruded or expanded polystyrene panels as the outward facing elements on the exterior and interior of a building’s outside wall cavities. The cavity, usually the basement wall, is filled with STANDARD concrete. The foam panels, which were part of the construction FORM, remain in place, providing insulation for the foundation and basement area of the structure.

The foam panels are then finish coated depending on their location. Below grade, on the exterior surface a waterproofing and sealing finish is used. In the interior, dry wall is normally applied.

ICB, which is the acronym for “Insulting Concrete Block”, is a concrete block unit with expanded polystyrene sandwiched between the two outward faces of each block and is hybrid EIFS/ICS system.

The whole house or building may be constructed using one of these systems.

Foam Lite – Eps Concrete – The Difference

In EPS Concrete Construction, the concrete blocks or panels (whether poured on site or manufactured elsewhere) used for the walls of buildings and homes, require no additional insulation. These blocks or panels are usually 10″ thick and will contain up to 80% expanded polystyrene as the aggregate, thus giving the wall an insulating value or R Factor of 30.

The exterior of the walls are usually finished in stucco. But as opposed to the foam panels used in EIFS or ICF construction, the eps concrete walls can easily be detailed with bas-reliefs, designs, motifs, or architectural details. The detailing can be created when the block or panels are cast or by tooling after installation and before the application of any finish coat. The inside surface of eps concrete walls may only require paint to be serviceable, but again, tooling by competent craftsmen before the finish coat, can provide any number of faux effects or detailing.

Further information on eps concrete buildings and homes can be found at http://www.rastra.com/ or at http://www.techblock.com/.

While Rastra and Tech-Block use building elements created in their respective manufacturing plants, there is no prohibition preventing the construction of a building or home from Foam Lite Concrete, if the design and engineering are created by a licensed architect and construction is performed by a qualified contractor.