We make a point to visit many of the Faswall ICF block-built-homes across the US and Canada in our travels. (Click to watch video)
At times this is for providing on-site installation support during construction phase. At other times it’s to follow up on building performance issues. This includes monitoring energy use and keeping abreast of the new materials being used in association with exterior and interior finishing of buildings (i.e. stucco and plaster products, building wraps, windows, and etc.).
We continue to hear from customers long after their homes are built. The stories are positive and our customers almost always have a comment about the “feel” of their indoor environment. We have been able to identify at least three things going on in a dwelling that contribute to this “feel” that people refer to:
- The way that a “mass wall” manages air infiltration and moisture:
We receive blower door test results from builders and homeowners that are consistently excellent. Part of that credit goes to the installation crews who are vigilant in putting the walls together. Part of this is also that the walls, when filled and capped (either stucco or building wrap) properly, create a good tight-seal envelope.
Vapor permeability is likely the most unique attribute of wood-fiber cement wall systems. It’s a little difficult to understand, and for that reason “breathability” is often used to describe what goes on in the walls.
How it works:
Moisture in the form of vapor is constantly moving in all walls. Indoor humidity levels rise and fall due to what’s happening indoors as well as what is happening outdoors. The constant variations in weather, temperature, and etc. mean that vapor is constantly migrating in and out of your walls. The permeability of the “skins” on our homes either enhances or inhibits this movement of moisture.
In a wood fiber-cement wall system, the walls are free draining (ie; they cannot hold moisture). This can best be understood by holding a block under a flowing faucet; the water will flow out immediately from the block. This is why all our Faswall ICF homes utilize vapor permeable wall systems (or, a “breathable walls”). It means that water in the form of vapor cannot be held in the walls, and it means rot and fungal growth cannot happen in a Faswall ICF wall system. This migration of moisture in and out of the breathable wall construction allows for a relative indoor humidity that is constant.
People often talk of how their Faswall built home has a “feel”. This “feel” is largely due to the constant relative humidity levels. High mass, vapor permeable walls act different that conventionally-built stick framed walls.
Stucco and plaster with high permeability are ideal forms of sealing Faswall ICF walls. Building wraps with high permeability are excellent at preventing wind-driven penetrating rain; they allow moisture in and out according to the “push-pull” of surrounding high/low pressure that continually cycles around us.
- The acoustical performance attributes of wood fiber cement walls
Faswall ICF walls are often used as a way of mitigating sound. A number of customers along rail and highway corridors choose to build with Faswall ICF’s. The walls provide substantial protection against unwanted noise. There is also a sound absorptive property of the wood fiber-cement composite material. The high-mass Faswall wall system has an ideal combination of sound absorption and sound transmission properties. STC ratings for Faswall wall systems can range between 52 and 68, while the exposed surface of the Faswall ICF wall forms can provide an exceptional noise reduction coefficient.
- The toxic-free organic matter of the Faswall wood fiber block
We receive a growing number of inquiries from chemically sensitive customers needing a source of building materials that are toxic-free. More attention is being paid to the many chemicals in conventionally built dwellings. When a Homeowner has Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), there is a clear shift of priorities regarding how they want to build their new home or commercial building. “MCS, as defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2003, is a physical condition whereby the affected person reports sensitivity or intolerance to a variety of common chemicals, both natural and synthetic, at very low levels.” Click for Source
We often send out block samples and insulation samples to help customers become familiar with the materials used to build the Faswall block. This often leads them to choose to build with Faswall block. Another movement which brings us into contact with customers is Baubiologie. As defined by the Institute for Baubiologie: “Homes or dwellings can be seen as an organism. The term third skin accurately describes the intimate relationship between humans and their living space. It illustrates vividly how closely we are interrelated with our living environment and also in how many ways we are dependent on it. Building biology is defined as the study of the holistic interrelationships between humans and their living environment.” Click for Source
If this is an area of interest you wish to pursue in your search for toxic free building materials please contact us for referrals.
We continue to learn about ways to more efficiently install the block. This results in not only a faster build time but a reduction in the final cost. Much of this means being available for conversations with a customer’s designer, architect, and builder on the upfront side before building begins. Often we are in communication with our customer’s engineer, and their building department officials too. It takes a team to build a home.
Occasionally our staff steps in and becomes the quarterback of the overall process. Our goal is to serve our customers at the point where things need support in order to make it as easy as possible to use the Faswall ICF block wall system.
We keep in communication with many of the Faswall ICF homeowners and many of them are willing to provide input on how their home-building experience went and what they have learned about their home’s livability. If you want to consider using the Faswall ICF block for the walls of your new home, addition, or commercial building, we have builders, homeowners, engineers and designers willing to testify about their experience working with our company, the support we offer, and what it is like to build with wood fiber-cement block. We have a great network of professionals across North America to draw upon to provide services.
Give us a call.