How to Construct a Foam Block Foundation


One of the most important aspects of design and construction in recent years is that of energy efficiency. A great way to increase not only the efficiency of your home but also the thermal comfort as well is to properly insulate your foundation. With traditional concrete block or poured concrete construction, it is an additional and often tedious process to properly apply insulation. However, by using insulating concrete forms, the form work is also the insulation and no additional steps are necessary. The forms function similarly to traditional form work but instead of being removed after the concrete cures, the forms are left in place to insulate the wall against temperature differentials, creating a more comfortable and cheaper to condition space.

Things You'll Need

  • 2-by-4-inch wood blocking
  • Insulating concrete form blocks
  • Metal reinforcing bars
  • Concrete
  • Confirm the existing or previously poured concrete footing has metal reinforcing bars protruding. These will be round metal rods about 1/2 inch in diameter. You want to make sure they stick up from the surface of the footing so they will be part of the structure for the new wall. This will ensure the footing and wall are connected and will perform as a single structural unit.

  • Attach the wood blocking to the previously poured concrete footing. This blocking should be installed at the precise width of the concrete forms. The purpose of the blocking is to support the first row of blocks and prevent them from moving side to side during the installation process. After attaching the blocking around the length of the footing, place the first row of blocks within the blocking.

  • Add horizontal and vertical rebar as required according to manufacturer's instructions. There will typically be reinforcing bar that runs vertically and horizontally to ensure the wall has adequate strength in both directions. Continue adding more rows of the foam blocks, staggering their placement one half a block on each course. This is done to prevent the vertical joints of aligning, which could cause a weak point in the form work.

  • Pump concrete into the form work after all the blocks and reinforcing are in place. Let the concrete cure and leave the forms in place as insulation.

Tips & Warnings

  • Proper placement of reinforcing bars is critical to adequate design strength for this foundation system. If you feel your experience with this construction system is inadequate, consult with a structural engineer or experienced contractor to assist with locating the bars in adequate locations.
  • A free flowing concrete mix is required in this application to ensure the concrete completely fills the form work. If any air pockets remain, this will be a dangerous weak spot in the wall and is structurally unacceptable.

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