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ICF vs IMP: Choosing the Right Building System for Mushroom Growing Facilities

Mushroom-growing facilities and other types of agricultural buildings have unique demands. The choice of building materials is incredibly important when it comes to constructing a cost-effective and lasting structure that can satisfy these needs.

Two commonly considered alternatives to traditional building materials are Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) and Insulated Metal Panels (IMPs). While both offer advantages over traditional, multi-part building materials, we will compare and contrast the two to discover the superior building system for mushroom growing facilities. 

Let’s dive into a comparison to understand why you should choose one over the other. 

What Are ICFs and IMPs? 

If you are unfamiliar with these contemporary building systems, here is a basic rundown: 

Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs)

Essentially, ICFs are hollowed foam blocks stacked into the shape of exterior building walls. After being positioned, the blocks are reinforced with steel rebar and filled with concrete. The resulting walls function much the same way as a standard concrete wall, but the foam blocks offer insulation. 

While they can be a solid choice for those looking for enhanced insulation over a standard concrete wall, working with an ICF wall system does present challenges in terms of installation and flexibility. 

Insulated Metal Panels (IMPs)

IMPs are lightweight, composite exterior wall panels that are completely prefabricated. They feature high-strength metal skins sandwiching a uniform insulated core. The insulated core can be made from various insulating materials, but it tends to be a lightweight foam blend that offers a high R-value

Since the panels are prefabricated, they are designed to be quickly and easily installed, so they are much easier to work with than traditional building materials, as well as ICFs, which require a multi-stage approach to installation.

Comparison: ICFs vs. IMPs 

To help you decide which is the best option for your mushroom growing facility, here is a basic breakdown: 

Ease of Installation

One of the most obvious advantages of IMPs over ICFs and other options is the ease and speed of installation. Since they are prefabricated and only need to be fixed in place, construction time is reduced, and they can be installed by almost anyone, which can cut down on labour costs.

On the other hand, ICFs require skilled labour and a lengthier installation due to the stacking, reinforcing, and concrete filling stages. While ICFs offer advantages over traditional concrete walls, the ICF construction process is pretty similar in difficulty and duration. 

Insulation Performance

Uniform and lasting insulation is critical for maintaining an optimal indoor growing environment for mushroom crops. While completed ICF walls offer enhanced insulation over traditional concrete walls, they tend to have an R-value of R-22, meaning a wall constructed using high-quality IMPs will outperform it.

For example, Isowall Insulated Wall Panels offer an R-value of 4.1 per inch, which does not deplete over time. In other words, they deliver superior thermal performance over ICF-constructed walls.

By selecting a building material with consistent thermal performance, you can cut energy cost and maintain optimal growing conditions inside your facility. 

Flexibility and Customization

IMPs also offer a greater degree of flexibility during construction. Since they can function as wall and ceiling panels, you get an all-purpose building material that can be installed quickly and easily.

Plus, the best IMPs can also be custom-tailored to any dimensions and field-cut to accommodate the windows, ventilation systems, fans, and other features that are essential to a successful mushroom farm. 

Because ICFs are far more rigid in form and construction, they require more careful planning when integrating systems and equipment needed for mushroom farming.

Maintenance and Durability

Since ICFs are concrete-based, they are a more rigid building material, which can lead to durability issues. The outer surfaces are also far more susceptible to mould and moisture issues than the steel facings you get with a high-quality IMP.

Simply put, concrete is susceptible to cracking, especially in high-moisture atmospheres. Plus, any construction errors during the concrete pouring phase can significantly reduce the lifespan of the wall. 

While the foam and concrete blend you get with ICFs can be suitable for certain applications, the smooth, easy-to-clean surface with a high-quality IMP makes them a superior choice for indoor growing facilities.

When you also consider the cost savings of using a building material that creates a more effective thermal barrier and the vapour resistance you get with IMPs, they stand out as a better long-term option. 

Which Should You Choose? 

For all the above reasons, IMPs are the superior choice for mushroom-growing facilities and most other agricultural buildings. They are easier to install, last longer, and offer superior insulation, making them the preferred choice for efficient, durable, and sustainable mushroom farms.

Isowall Insulated Wall Panels: The Superior Choice 

While IMPs are the clear choice, it is important to choose a high-quality option that delivers all of the qualities a mushroom farm requires. This is where Isowall Insulated Wall Panels stand out. 

Quality Materials and Construction

Isowall panels have a rigid EPS (Expanded PolyStyrene) foam core permanently bonded between two steel sheet panels. Fixed into place with a heat polymerizing adhesive, the seamless construction ensures no air gaps or pockets, enhancing both durability and thermal performance.

They are CFC and HCFC-free, environmentally friendly, and built to last without significant maintenance. 

Additional Benefits

  • Easy to Clean: Isowall panels have a smooth surface that is easy to clean and doesn’t support mould growth.
  • Hygienic Surface: Meeting the strict sanitation standards set by the CFIA, Isowall panels are ideal for maintaining a clean and sanitary environment.
  • Sustainable Construction: With their environmentally friendly construction and energy efficiency, Isowall panels are a sustainable building solution. They even offer multiple end-of-life reuse options.
  • Lasting Cost Savings: The high thermal barrier of Isowall panels results in significant energy savings and cost savings over traditional building systems. Think of the panels as a long-term investment that will continue saving you money on heating and air conditioning costs throughout the year.
  • Chemical Resistance: Isowall panels are inert to most mineral acids, bases, salts, and paraffin-hydrocarbon solutions, ensuring long-term durability. 

Discover the Advantages for Yourself

Learn more about why Isowall Insulated Panels are the ideal option for your mushroom facility. Feel free to tell us about the unique needs of your construction project, and we will provide you with more information, including an Isowall sample and a detailed estimate. 

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