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April 11, 2024
How Kentucky homeowners can stand up to tornadoes by building with ICFs

Many in Kentucky know first-hand the devastating power of tornadoes. Although the state has not always been part of tornado alley, you still experience tornadoes in Kentucky – and their consequences, like the December 2021 tornadoes that killed more than 50 people and damaged thousands of buildings and homes in the state.

Extreme weather events like this are becoming more intense across North America, and so taking steps to protect your home and your loved ones is increasingly important.

Building better

One savvy means of protection from tornadoes is to build (or rebuild) using Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) or to create a safe room with this material.

ICFs provide a steel-reinforced, solid concrete wall that’s sandwiched between two layers of expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation. This method of construction offers substantial improvements over traditional wood framing when it comes to disaster resilience.

Here’s how ICF buildings stand up to the power of tornadoes.

Seamless strength

On their own, the concrete and steel of ICFs provide the strength of a solid foundation or footing up through the entire wall, making them far more durable than wood-framed walls filled with batt insulation.

In addition, the seamless design of ICF walls redistributes the force or sheer load of a tornado evenly across the structure. Once completed, the building has no weak spots or vulnerable areas for the tornado to penetrate.

In fact, it’s proven that Insulated Concrete Forms by Nudura stand up to winds of up to 250 miles per hour (402 km/h). Electrical and plumbing lines and other non-structural components are also protected from tornadoes because they are nestled safely within the ICF wall.

Powerful resistance 

kentucky icf house

These features that allow an ICF wall to withstand high-speed winds will also stand up to impacts from the flying debris that are often a deadly and dangerous side effect of a tornado.

During a tornado, debris can act like a high-speed projectile, often piercing right through regular wood-framed walls. Impact testing by ABC Domes and Texas Tech University demonstrates a 15-pound wooden 2x4 beam propelled at 100 miles per hour at a Nudura ICF wall left no structural damage.

With high winds, there is often fear of residential roofs detaching from conventional wood-frame houses. To secure the roof truss to the Insulated Concrete Form wall, Nudura’s ICF Hangar system is embedded into the concrete to provide greater resistance to wind uplift forces.

Storm-shelter security

ICFs make it easy to meet the tough safe room building standards set out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which provide “near-absolute protection” against extreme winds. If constructing an entirely new home is not in the cards, a smaller ICF safe room can be built adjacent to an existing structure in case of an emergency.

It only takes one disaster to completely change your life, so don’t wait until the next big storm to consider building with Insulated Concrete Forms.

Tim Geegan from Bowling Green, Kentucky experienced this first-hand. Only months after moving in, his new ICF home survived a major tornado in 2021 without damage, while his previous home and several others in his neighborhood were completely destroyed.

Comfort through the storm

Tornadoes can be scary no matter how brave you are. But given that ICFs dampen sound, they can ease the unsettling howls and shrieks of a big storm.

And the continuous insulation and thermal mass of an ICF building minimizes the loss of heating and cooling through the walls so your property will stay comfortable for longer – even if the power goes out in a storm. This feature also reduces your day-to-day energy bills – by up to 60% for some homeowners.

All-around protection with Nudura

Beyond helping to prevent destruction from flying debris and gale-force winds, ICFs are also less likely to succumb to some of the stealthier damage of a tornado that can lead to problems years later, such as weakened foundations or water seepage that breeds mold.

Ultimately building with Insulated Concrete Forms is the best way to protect your investment while keeping your family safe in the face of a growing threat.

Intrigued? Check out these beautiful ICF homes for inspiration.

white icf farmhouse


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