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05.03.2009 Feature Article

Ghana’s Concrete Building Materials

Ghana’s Concrete Building Materials
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Ghana has a love for everything concrete in building materials. Be it in concrete foundations, walls, floor, columns, trusts, joists, slabs, or paving blocks; concrete seems to monopolize the Ghanaian housing industry. New to the Ghana construction industry are insulating concrete forms.

Insulating concrete forms (ICFs) are a stay in place foam block that stacks to form foundation and structural walls. Once rebar is placed, concrete is poured into the cavity creating a 10.16 cm (4 inch) solid concrete wall with 6.35 cm (2.5 inches) of insulation on each side. This creates a building that is sturdy and energy efficient (R-value 22).

ICFs are poised to replace the concrete and sancrete block commonly used in Ghanaian construction. ICFs are much lighter than concrete blocks, weighing only 6.5 pounds per 0.495 square meters (5.33 sq ft) of material. A crew used to building with concrete blocks can make the transition easily to ICF blocks. Because of the weight, it requires less muscle endurance or strength to become valuable laborers. Homes are built in half the time as with concrete blocks and a building is produced that is structurally sound.

ICFs will also help Ghana to do something they could not do easily before. With the ICF block, Ghanaians will be able to create curved concrete walls. This will bring an additional element of creativity to Ghanaian architecture and home design. Builders that use ICFs will serve a special niche in Ghanaian society that desires the appeal of curved or circular walls in their homes. Every millimeter of the curved wall will have the same 10.16 cm (4 inches) of concrete wall covered by 12.7 cm (5 inches) of insulation.

The foam for the ICF blocks is made from expanded polystyrene (EPS), the same material in commercial grade coolers and refrigerator insulation. EPS is a by-product of petroleum. With the finding of oil off the shores of Ghana, the ICF block can prove to be an additional boost to the Ghanaian economy.

ICFs, along with structural insulated panels (SIPs), are widely becoming known in the United States and Canada as the material of choice for sustainability. With Ghana entering the scene as using ICFs as their building material of choice for structural walls, Ghana is positioning their industries to gain global attention.

It is common practice for Ghanaian home builders to use concrete or sandcrete block for construction. Because of this, contractors have an easy transition to ICFs as Ghana's primary building material. Construction times are drastically reduced and home owners experience greater comfort. It is a quality building material ready for Ghana.

Lakisha David
Light Ready Construction, LLC

Lakisha David
Lakisha David, © 2009

The author has 8 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: LakishaDavid

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