Concrete Castle Construction Methods

One of the most promising techniques for building is the use of concrete in modern residential construction. Concrete has been in use for many years in building large commercial buildings and high rises. It is a very strong material that is very resistant to fire, water, wind, termites, rot, among other problems that plague homes made from stick frame wood construction. That is why the US Government used it in constructing the ICBM silos of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. This is also why we believe it is the most logical choice for modern castle building. While concrete residential structures have been constructed for many years, only recently have advances in polystyrene and foam stay in place forms allowed for economical and easy construction of concrete residential homes. This opens up opportunities for more of us to build that fortified castle we have always dreamed of.

Basically, a stay in place concrete form is a sandwich of polystyrene foam blocks that is tied together with some type of cross member to keep the two walls together. These blocks are stacked much like Lego™ building blocks. Usually the ties that connect the blocks are used to hold the reinforcing bars that provide tensile strenght to the concrete. Then concrete is poured between the foam walls to create a very strong and solid wall system. There are several great things about this product. One is that the product is very lightweight. It is easily put in place and easy for the contractor to make changes on site. In traditional concrete construction, wooden forms are built to hold the concrete to the proper shape. These could take many days to build and many shapes were impossible to build with 2x4's and plywood. With the foam and polystyrene forms, all that is needed to shape the forms is a hot foam knife or an electric saw. This makes for easy manipulation of the foam and makes the possibilties endless for shapes of walls. This product is quickly set up on the jobsite.

Another great feature of the stay in place forms is that they stay in place after the concrete is poured. This is a very convenient thing for contractors, becasuse they do not have to spend the extra time taking out all the wood forms that were used in conventional concrete pours. Also there is very little or no left over material or waste as would be the case with wooden forms. Yet another feature is that of placing the reinforcing bars. With traditional pours, a worker must manually place the reinforcing bars using wiring or steel trays to lock the rebar in place. With most stay in place systems, the ties that hold the two foam walls together usually serve to hold the reinforcing bars in place for each wall section. This saves even more time when the walls are being prepared for the concrete pour.

Yet another feature of this building material is the insulating value of the foam along with the poured concrete. With typical wood frame 2x4 construction and R-value of between 9 and 20 depending on which data you look at. With the polystyrene forms and concrete you can get R-values of between 20 and 50. With the stay in place forms and concrete walls there is little or no air infiltration as you would have with a wood framed wall with fiberglass insulation and you won't have to worry about the insulation falling down or rotting or getting wet etc.

A final feature of this product is the pure strength of a reinforced concrete wall. There are few building materials that match the strength and durability of the reinforced concrete wall. These walls are used for safes, safe rooms, and some of the strongest structures on earth such as bridges and hardened nuclear bunkers. Solid reinforced concrete walls provide protection from winds associated with storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes. While very few structures will withstand a direct hit from a tornado, concrete structures have a better chance of surviving with less damage, also providing protection from flying debris that would penetrate most wood framed structures. With the increasing amount of natural disasters, stronger building methods are certainly appropriate for the modern homes and our fortified castles.

One manufacturer I have found for these in place concrete forms is QuadLock™. I really like this manufacturer for this product. Their product allows for limitless possibilities for design of a structure. I have found other manufacturers that only have forms for linear sections of wall. Quadlock™ has forms for making circular walls. This will be especially helpful in the construction of circular turrets for your castle. This system can be adapted to any house plan. For safety, you must consult with a structural engineer before modifying any plans. Check out ICF Homes. There is some great information about homes constructed in this method. Also there are links for homeowners and builders.

You can use any siding on this product, just as you would any conventional house or castle in our case. For castle construction a veneer of precast manufactured stone would work great. We will discuss this material in another article. While this method is not exactly how medieval castles were constructed, it is a similar modern method. Basically, you have a reinforced concrete core where medieval castles often had rubble cores to fill in the space. Your forms would be of polystyrene which will provide great insulating values for your castle. Medieval castles used the sheer dimension of the walls as insulation, not that they really cared about R-values as much as defensive values. Some of those walls could be as much as 20 feet thick at the base. That would certainly be cost prohibitive with any construction method today. Finally, your exterior and interior would be of manufactured stone. This would provide the look of stone but at a fraction of the cost of real stone. Of course, medieval castles had real stone walls that took great skilled masons many years and lots of money to build. To build with real stones would be great, but this method is available only to the builder with the most resources.

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