Building a Concrete Home – Panel Composition. Because of fires, super storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and increasing air conditioning & heating costs, home owners are researching concrete home construction and finding the American Ingenuity concrete dome kit. Building an Aidome from prefabricated concrete panels makes home construction easier and results in a super-energy efficient dome whose exterior panels comes with a 225 mph wind and F4 tornado guarantee. The process of stacking the panels, overlapping/locking the steel mesh of adjacent panels and filling the seams between the panels with special fiber concrete, produces the structural components of the home, the finished steel reinforced concrete surface, installs all the insulation and all the dome shell 1/2″ DensArmor drywall. To learn about Building Kit Assembly click on Assembly. An Expanded Assembly Manual is now available with each dome kit order.
How long does it take to assemble the dome kit if I use the Kit Assembly Specialist? Depending on the size dome, and if your building kit has two entryways and four dormers with dome built on concrete slab, the shell assembly with one layer of concrete in the panel seams and on the entryways and dormers can take about 9 to 26 days. Assembly time depends on the kit size, number of workers in your team, your foundation type, weather and the type of hoisting mechanism. Click on Kit Assembly Specialist to learn more.
Exterior Dome Panels Have No Wood To Burn or To Rot or For Termites To Eat
No Shingles or Roof to blow off in high winds
To support the panels during dome kit assembly, a temporary wooden rib system is installed. Once all the seams are concreted and the entryways and dormers are concreted, the dome is self supporting and the wooden rib system is removed. Most of the wood can be recycled as interior framing.
A side view of a component panel can be seen above. The panel exterior is 3/4″ concrete reinforced with fibers & galvanized steel mesh. After the mesh is overlapped and locked between panels, special fiber concrete mixed on site is hand troweled in the seam areas in two applications — bonding agent is applied between the two layers. The seam areas average of 2″ thick concrete.
What are the American Ingenuity triangular and rectangular shaped panels made from? Center core of 7″ Expanded Polystyrene R-28 Insulation (not Styrofoam!), exterior is ¾” thick concrete reinforced with fibers & galvanized steel mesh with interior of 1/2″ Georgia-Pacific DensArmor Plus High-Performance gypsum drywall board (which is moisture resistant, mold resistant gypsum and noncombustible). None of the materials in the panel are combustible or contain a food source for mold growth.
Superior Insulating Technology: The core of each panel consists of a seven inch block of R-28 rigid modified expanded polystyrene (E.P.S.) insulation. The E.P.S. Insulation that Ai utilizes contains NO HBCD, NO TCPP, NO CFCs and NO formaldehyde and is not Styrofoam. The EPS that Ai utilizes has a flame retardant added to it, therefore the EPS is noncombustible and is protected by the 1/2″ DensArmor wallboard which is non-combustible and provides the Code required 15 minute thermal barrier.
Your American Ingenuity concrete home kit is affordable and strong because it is engineered as a system of prefinished component panels. Each panel is cut at a computer-generated angle so that it fits flush with the adjacent panel. The edges are precisely beveled at the seams where steel mesh and concrete will unite to complete the structure.
Q: Do you have an engineering statement about your dome panels that can be reviewed?
A: Yes, to view the statement click on Engineering.
After the foundation is installed, the dome shell assembly consists of:
- Erecting a temporary wooden rib system with supports under each hub.
- Using some type of hoisting mechanism place the component panels one row at a time upon the rib system.
- Overlapping the steel mesh from adjacent panels. Locking the steel mesh with “C” rings and pliers. Depressing the mesh into the seams.
- Installing rebar, cables, hardware, (headers, king studs for doors and windows) and suspension rods in appropriate seams per the building plans.
- Watering down prefab concrete in the areas where new concrete will be applied. Applying one layer of fiber concrete in the seams and on the entryway/dormer panels one row at a time. Depending upon the dome size, there are four to five rows of panels.
- Once the last row is installed then the second layer of concrete is applied in the seams between the panels and on the entryways and dormers. Bonding agent is applied between the two layers. Cured concrete in the seams and around the area where new concrete is being applied is watered down prior to bonding agent and new concrete being installed. The new concrete is misted per the Assembly Manual.
- Only the seam areas between the panels and the entryways/dormers/cupola/link are concreted. Do not concrete over the finished prefab concrete on each panel.
- Finishing exterior framed walls and Installing your locally purchased doors and windows.
- Removing the temporary wooden rib system. Most of the wood can be recycled into interior framing and second floor perimeter knee wall framing.
- Watering down the concrete exterior 3-4 weeks to remove efflorescence prior to priming and painting the concrete exterior.
- Hiring conventional subcontractors: framer, electrician, plumber, drywall finisher, cabinet installer, HVAC, etc. to finish the interior of the dome.
- Priming and painting the exterior of the dome.
- Finishing the seams between the interior shell wall board with joint compound, fiberglass tape and applying joint compound in a skip trowel method over all the shell drywall. Ask Ai for latest interior shell finishing document.
- Priming and painting the shell wallboard.
American Ingenuity’s Component Panel’s steel mesh, concrete, EPS insulation and DensArmor wallboard contain no food source for mold growth and are therefore mold resistant. The Georgia Pacific wallboard is not conventional sheet rock. Conventional sheet rock consists of conventional gypsum and paper backing. Sheet rock when it gets wet crumbles and molds with the paper matting as a food source for mold growth. The DensArmor gypsum when it gets wet does not crumble. It has fiberglass backing on both sides is no food source for mold growth.
Tell us more about American Ingenuity’s panel materials.
Concrete: The panel concrete is a special formulation containing synthetic fibers and liquid admixtures. Locally purchase bags of Portland cement and masonry sand. After the mesh is overlapped and locked between panels, special fiber concrete mixed on site is hand troweled in the seam areas in two applications — bonding agent is applied between the two layers. The seam areas are about 3″ deep by 5″ wide with average of 2″ thick concrete. Prior to applying new concrete, water down all concrete around areas where work will be done.
Mix the ingredients with a Mortar Mixer NOT a cement mixer! Ai ships with your building kit the same fibers and admixtures that are used in the panel concrete so the seam concrete which is mixed on site will have the same properties as the panel concrete. These ingredients improve the concrete’s characteristics, create super toughness, extend durability, give higher tensile and compressive strength, provide elasticity for expansion and improve freeze protection. The first layer of seam concrete contains two liquid admixtures and synthetic fibers. The second layer does not require fibers; however now due to advances in fiber technology there are small 1/4″ fibers which can now be added to the second layer. These smaller fibers for the second layer can be purchased from Ai.
The concrete in your concrete home out performs other exteriors because of its specially developed formula. Because of its exceptional composition, it actually gains strength over the years.
The exterior panel concrete, which is 3/4 inch thick, adheres directly to the steel mesh and E.P.S. insulation without the need of a bonding agent. The panel concrete is hand applied, hand troweled, and hand sponged at American Ingenuity’s Rockledge Florida factory. During the on site process of concreting the seams, entryways, dormers, etc., a bonding agent is applied on the first layer of concrete before the second layer is applied. Bonding Agent is supplied with the kit with additional bonding agent being purchased from Ai. This bonding agent is not diluted onsite. It is used full strength and must rest 30 minutes before new concrete can be applied over it. Prior to applying bonding agent, water down cured concrete. Before applying second layer of concrete, water down all cured concrete in the seams and around where the new concrete will be applied. The final layer of concrete is sponge float finished on site.
Steel: Galvanized steel wire mesh is encased in the concrete of each component panel and extends out over the insulation’s beveled edges. As your dome panels are assembled, the mesh of each panel overlaps minimum 2″ and is hooked to that of the adjacent panels with C-rings (commonly called “hog rings”). The dome then becomes encircled by steel mesh.
E.P.S. Insulation that Ai utilizes contains NO HBCD, NO TCPP, NO CFCs, NO formaldehyde. The EPS thickness is 7″ (R28). The seven inches of sturdy, rigid, nontoxic R-28 expanded polystyrene (E.P.S.) insulation forms the core of each component panel. This is NOT Styrofoam! The E.P.S. Ai uses is a closed cell with a 1 lb. per cubic foot density. The insulation is permanent, chemically and thermally stable; resistant to mildew; provides no nutritive value to animals, plants, microorganisms; non-irritating to skin. The insulation will not rot, shrink, compact, or deteriorate due to age if in cased in wall. It also acts as a vapor barrier for your home, providing stable performance year after year. To learn more about E.P.S. as a Vapor Barrier click on Vapor Barrier.
ANALYSIS OF EXPANDED BEAD POLYSTYRENE
The Expanded Polystyrene (E.P.S.) Insulation that American Ingenuity utilizes is seven inches of sturdy, rigid R-28 modified E.P.S. insulation, which forms the core of each component panel. The E.P.S is one pound per cubic foot density (pcf). EPS is NOT Styrofoam.
The E.P.S. insulation will not rot, shrink, compact, or deteriorate due to age if in cased in wall. It also acts as a vapor barrier for your home, providing stable performance year after year. The E.P.S. that American Ingenuity utilizes in its prefabricated panels:
is chemically and thermally stable
is resistant to mildew
provides no nutritive value to animals, plants, microorganisms
is non-irritating to skin
contains NO Chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) and is formaldehyde free
- Contains NO HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane) and NO TCPP (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate
What kind of vapor barrier will American Ingenuity dome have? Approximately one quarter of the energy consumed by an air conditioner is used to extract water vapor from inside the house. Water vapor easily passes through most building materials and is readily swept into homes through joints, seams and through the attic. The E.P.S. insulation that Ai uses provides a good vapor barrier. And the Ai building system provides for an almost air tight house.
During the US Dept of Energy Study on energy efficiency in housing designs, the blower door test showed the American Ingenuity dome to be 56% tighter than the conventional test structure and 29% tighter than the Dow house. To see if air was passing through walls of the dome, tests using infrared were performed. Thermal irregularities in the dome were shown to be insignificant.
Per the manufacturer of the E.P.S. which American Ingenuity uses, “the E.P.S. is closed cell and will not absorb more than 2.5% of water based on volume”. E.P.S. is often used as flotation for docks because it will not absorb water.
Per E.P.S. manufacturer’s data sheets the following description was given to explain how the E.P.S. is affected by Moisture: “To retain their original insulation value, all insulation materials must remain dry. Water is a good conductor of heat so a high moisture content in the insulation results in a significant loss of performance. This is particularly so with fibrous materials which must be positively protected by an efficient vapor barrier. Two ways in which moisture can affect insulation materials are; water absorption from contact with damp surfaces or rain penetration or from interstitial condensation of water vapor. E.P.S. is a closed cell material and has minimal water absorption and low water vapor transmission. Both of these properties are to a large extent, density related, but also to the degree of fusion of the material. Tables 4 and 5 show typical performance figures for good quality E.P.S. boards manufactured to Arco Polymers recommendations.”
Table 4 Water Absorption
Density (pcf) 1.0 lb 1.5 lb 2.0 lb
(pounds per cubic foot)
Water absorption (% vol) less than 2.5 less than 2.0 less than 2.0
Table 5 Water Vapor Transmission (WVT)
Density (pcf) Grains (hr/sqft) In/Hg (Perm inch)
The amount that a material will breathe is measured in perms or sometimes perm inches.
“Note: FHA requirements for perimeter insulation are that the original K value of the material must not increase by more than 15% after repeated wetting and drying cycles. Tests have been carried out on nominal 1.0 pcf density E.P.S. with an original K value (at 75 degrees F) of 0.26. After submersion the K value was found to be 0.28–an increase of only 7.7%.”
Climatic Changes: E.P.S. board has been used as an insulation material in various types of building structures for over 35 years in climatic conditions ranging from Arctic cold to desert heat and has performed satisfactorily. E.P.S. does not become brittle at sub-zero temperatures (in fact its K value improves) and suffers no loss of impact resistance at -100 degrees F compared with 73 degrees F. The maximum recommended continuous operating temperature is 175 degrees F. Roof surface temperatures in Southern States may reach this temperature for short periods, but with suitably designed roof systems E.P.S. can be used under these conditions.”
In Ai’s building system the water is stopped on the outside surface because the concrete is rich and dense enough to inhibit significant absorption and it is coated with a primer and two coats of good quality exterior concrete paint which further insures against leaks. If a leak occurs the remedy is to check the area for hair line crack that gets repaired with elastomeric patching compound and another coat of paint. If and when any water gets past the concrete very little will be absorbed by the E.P.S.
Now this brings up breathability of the E.P.S. The amount that a material will breathe is measured in perms or sometimes perm inches. E.P.S. will breathe enough to allow it to dry out inside our walls. At the same time it is tight enough to also serve as a good vapor barrier. Ai’s insulating concrete panel (ICF) is made from expanded polystyrene (E.P.S.) molded into lightweight foam blocks. The foam itself provides excellent insulation with an R value of R-28. The R-value of E.P.S. remains constant. (R-values of traditional fiberglass insulation decreases when the material is wet or damaged.) Ai chose to manufacture its dome component panels with Modified Expanded Polystyrene (E.P.S.) foam because of its fire performance, structural performance, and environmental advantages. Modified E.P.S. contains no formaldehydes, no CFCs, no HBCD, no TCPP or toxic chemicals, and uses fewer resources to manufacture than other insulation products. E.P.S. provides you with superior thermal performance to better insulate your buildings, and no harmful CFC’s have ever been used to manufacture it.
You can now recycle your jobsite scrap through a network of manufacturers, re-processors, and retailers across the country. E.P.S. is a valuable resource than can be remanufactured into foam packaging or made into an amazing array of polystyrene products from office supplies to video cassette cartridges. To locate your nearest E.P.S. collection site, call the RECYCLING HOTLINE at 1-800-944-8448. Please recycle jobsite scrap.
Expanded Polystyrene (E.P.S.) Facts
The E.P.S. that American Ingenuity utilizes is manufactured from expandable polystyrene beads containing a hydrocarbon blowing agent and a flame-retardant additive that contains NO HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane) and NO TCPP (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate. Ai’s insulation is made from Nova Chemicals M-77 E.P.S. product.
The EPS Ai utilizes is a closed cell, lightweight, resilient, foamed plastic composed of hydrogen and carbon atoms. There are two common types of polystyrene foam, Extruded Polystyrene or X.E.P.S. (Popularly known by its Dow trademark, Styrofoam) and Expanded Polystyrene (E.P.S.). American Ingenuity utilizes only Expanded Bead Polystyrene that contains NO HBCD, NO TCPP, NO CFC’s and NO formaldehyde. Ai does not use Styrofoam.
During the processing of E.P.S., steam heat softens the beads and causes the blowing agent to expand to produce moisture-resistant multi-cellular particles, which increase in size up to 40 times their original volume. Following a period of stabilization, during which time the beads lose their moisture, the blowing agent condenses out and air diffuses into their cellular structure, the pre-expanded beads are molded into blocks of insulation.
The benefits of E.P.S. thermal insulation products are its lightweight, has stable long-term thermal resistance, no R-value loss over time (Source: 1985 Study conducted by Structural Research, Inc. for NRCA, MRCA, and SPI), and cost effectiveness when compared to other rigid board insulations on the basis of R-value.
Is E.P.S. a water, vapor or air barrier?
E.P.S. is considered water resistant and vapor permeable and at the density and thickness that American Ingenuity utilizes, the material acts as both a vapor retarder and an air barrier. This characteristic essentially moves the dew point to the exterior side of the concrete wall, minimizing interior humidity in the summer, and at the same time eliminates air infiltration in all seasons which is recognized as a major cause of R-value loss in fiberglass insulation. Air exchangers or heat recovery ventilation systems are highly recommended!
Is E.P.S. foam toxic?
E.P.S. is an inert, non-biodegradable organic plastic foam which will not rot and is highly resistant to mildew. According to National Bureau of Standards Combustion Tests, data collected from seven labs concluded that under the worst case fire scenario, fumes from E.P.S. are no more toxic than those from wood (Douglas Fir).
Is E.P.S. Flammable?
Due to the flame retardant added to the EPS during expansion, the EPS is not combustible but will melt and draw back from a heat source. Tests have shown that the smoke and soot produced from the melting EPS is less than is produced by burning Douglas Fir wood. Of course no one wants to breathe smoke or soot…that is why there are smoke detectors to alert occupants to fire. The requirements of all the major code organizations for foam plastics is that they have a flame spread of not more than 75 and a smoke development rating of not more than 450. The foam used in Ai’s component panels has a flame spread rating of 15 and a smoke development rating of 125 based on ASTME84-87 tests, well below the code requirements.
If you are in an extremely cold climate (Vermont, South Dakota, Canada) you may want to purchase 9″ EPS R36 insulation. Just remember if you purchase the thicker insulation, this will increase the size of the panels, which will cause a 45′ r 48′ kit to require two trucks for delivery. To learn more about the properties of the E.P.S. click on E.P.S. data and then scroll down the page to Analysis of Expanded Bead Polystyrene.
1/2″ Georgia Pacific DensArmor Plus Gypsum Wall Board
Drywall/WallBoard: Consists of Georgia Pacific 1/2″ DensArmor Plus High Performance Gypsum Panels adhered to the E.P.S. insulation with a wallboard adhesive with moisture treated core. DensArmor Plus High-Performance Interior Panels are noncombustible (as defined and tested in accordance with ASTM E136 or CAN/ULC S114) interior panels that consist of a moisture-resistant gypsum core with coated fiberglass mats. The fiberglass mats provide superior protection from incidental moisture. The treated core and the coated facings made with fiberglass offer greater moisture resistance and improved dimensional stability than regular gypsum board. The product resists warping, rippling and buckling.
The DensArmor has zero flame spread and zero smoke development and complies with the 15 minute thermal barrier test as described in 2010 Florida State IRC Section R316.4.
Georgia Pacific’s Dens-Deck roof board is a patented nonstructural glass mat-faced, noncombustible, water-resistant, gypsum core panel. Georgia Pacific does not add any flame retardant to its gypsum products. The DensArmor contains no HBCD and no TCPP.
Q: Does the interior shell wall board that American Ingenuity uses support the growth of mold?
A:. DensArmor Plus Panels are highly resistant to the growth of mold, and have scored a 10, the highest level of performance for mold resistance under ASTM D3273 test method. DensArmor Plus Interior Panels are the first drywall panels to be GREENGUARD indoor Air Quality Certified and GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certified for low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by a leading third-party organization, GREENGUARD Environmental Institute. In addition, DensArmor Plus interior Panels are the first drywall panels listed as GREENGUARD microbial resistant. This listing means Dens-Armor Plus Panels, which feature fiberglass mats instead of paper facings used on the surface of traditional gypsum board products, resist mold growth. The microbial resistant test is based on ASTM D6329, a testing standard set by ASTM International, which develops testing guidelines and procedures for building materials, products, systems, and services.
Green, brown or black algae can appear on the wallboard. Algae just needs water and sunlight to grow. Algae can be removed with a combination of chlorine and water or oxygenated bleach and water.
The wallboard is adhered to the EPS with a wallboard adhesive. The glass mats embedded into the core on both faces, results in dimensional stability and prevents warping. The glass mat is encapsulated with a coating which reduces skin irritation from exposed glass fibers. Please use a mask when cutting the DensArmor.
Fire Protection: Per Georgia Pacific:
- 1/2″ Dens Armor Plus High Performance Gypsum Panels are gypsum panel products, designed for interior use, are manufactured to meet the temperature rise criteria of a thermal barrier as described in Section R316.4 of the 2010 Florida Residential Building Code.
- In addition to having a non-combustible core per ASTM E 136, Dens Armor Plus has been evaluated by Underwriters Laboratories LLC per UL 723 Standard for Test for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials. DensArmor Plus has a Flame spread/Smoke Development of 0/0.
- The Finish Rating Thermocouple Temperatures obtained during the evaluation (WFCI Project No. 06047A) was conducted at Western Fire Center (WFCi) in Kelso, WA. WFCI is a recognized testing facility per the Gypsum Association (GA-600).
- The Finish or Membrane Protection Rating was determined to be 0.15:40 for 1/2″ DAP. Please note the average ambient temperture was 21.0 degrees C for the 5 Finish Rating Thermocouples.
- Properties of Dens-Armor: Noncombustible, Water Resistance, Dimensional Stability, Decay Resistance, Resistant to Warping, Rodent and Fungus Resistance, Torch Safe, High Compressive Strength.
The wallboard seams can be finished similar to drywall by applying joint compound and adhesive backed mesh tape on the seams. To blend the taped seams to the drywall finish, apply joint compound in a skip trowel fashion over the dome shell drywall. Please call Ai for latest drywall finishing document. Prime and paint the drywall.
If I am not ready to assemble my dome immediately, can it be stored outside? Yes, but not in freezing weather. If you expect to have your kit outside for more than two to three months, when you order your kit request that the E.P.S. edges be painted. Call us for details at 321-639-8777.
What do the component panels weight?
How are the panels supported during assembly? Ai recommends using the temporary “wooden rib system.” The rib system consists of your own 2×4’s (cut to length and holes drilled to our specs) and steel hubs on loan from American Ingenuity to erect a free standing geodesic framework. The 2×4’s can be purchased from Ai (precut, holes drilled with ends painted) and shipped on the truck with your kit. The deposit on the hubs is $1,600 for a 5 month rental time…$20 a month rental thereafter, with the client paying to ship the hubs back to Ai to receive their deposit back less any additional months rental and any cost for any missing or damaged hubs. The bolts/nuts/washers are purchased for $128 and are not returned to Ai. An Expanded Assembly Manual is now available with each new dome order.
The “Rib System” dictates the exact panel placement. Once all the seams/options have been concreted and entryways/dormers framed in the “Rib System” is removed and recycled into the interior framing and the hubs returned to us. Click on Rib to learn more.
How are the panels hoisted into place? And what equipment is attached to the panels to make lifting easier?
- The typical method for lifting the panels is by man lift, crane or transverse fork lift.
- Monthly rentals on transverse lifts also called Boom Lifts, Horizontal Boom Fork Lifts, Roofing Lifts, Shooters are available from National Rental Chains.
- Four Panel Lifting Spikes are purchased from Ai for $120 and attached to your locally purchased chain and couplers. To learn more about the spikes click on Lifting Spikes. Please scroll down the page to find the spikes info.