Concrete for Humanity

Western Forms and others build concrete homes for those in need

Houston, Texas (October 1, 2001) -- Through the collective efforts of Western Forms, the Portland Cement Association, Houston Habitat for Humanity, and various other companies, eight concrete homes were constructed for less fortunate families in the Houston area during the month of September.

"We are very excited to have the opportunity to build concrete homes and help those in need," said Ron Ward, Western Forms vice-president. The homes are expected to require less maintenance than conventional stick homes, and also lower energy bills by 40 to 60%. This provides a perfect balance for less fortunate families who might have difficulties with the upkeep and higher energy bills a conventional house may create.

The families receiving the homes very excited, and the volunteers working on the interior of the homes are also excited for the possibilities that concrete provides. "The volunteers are excited and very intellectually curious about concrete housing. They see a home that will be long lasting," said Milby Hart, director of Houston Habitat for Humanity. "We are very happy to provide a homeowner a home that is durable, with a life expectancy far beyond that of wood. Termites are a big problem in Texas. It is unusual for a homeowner to not have at least one problem with termites. Through concrete home construction, we have taken away their food source."

Western Forms sent down a technical team to work on the project. The group headed by Jonathan Pizey and Larry Austin, worked with Habitat volunteers to set, pour and strip the forms.

The homes are 1100 square feet one story with insulated concrete walls. The walls were poured with a new sandwich insulation system furnished by Dow™. Rigid foam insulation is sandwiched between two reinforced concrete wythes. "This is the best way to provide a low-cost, attractive, maintenance free exterior and a flat interior surface which requires no drywall. "The entire wall assembly is fast, low-cost and provides high thermal performance," said Jonathan Pizey, Western’s Director of Technical Services.

The sandwich insulation method adds value not only to the R-value, but also in the reduction of finishing materials and labor cost. Exposed concrete walls on the interior and exterior provide a number of options for finishing. The interior concrete walls of the Houston homes were sprayed with a light textured finish, giving the walls an attractive appearance.

MonoTex comes to Houston

The Houston project featured the debut of Western’s new forming system, MonoTex™. MonoTex™ is a urethane lined textured form that provides limitless design possibilities. For this project, a brick pattern was used. "The finished concrete wall looked great," said Western Forms salesman Chris Ward. What sets MonoTex™ apart from other textured forms is the how real the finished product looks. Virtually any design can be custom made for MonoTex™. This gives MonoTex™ limitless possibilities in the above grade residential market.

After the wall is stripped and undergoes a curing time, a deep-penetrating concrete stain is applied to the concrete to finish the wall. The stain gives the wall the look of actual brick or stone without the labor and material costs that conventional masonry would incur. For the Houston Habitat project a Sherwin-Williams, H&C® product, called Shield Plus™ Concrete Stain was used. Milestones, Inc., developed the texture and staining process a forming technology partner of Western Forms. There are a variety of colors and color combinations that can be applied to achieve an amazingly authentic looking exterior. "Brick is huge in Texas. In these parts, if your home is brick, you have arrived," said Adrian King of the Cement & Concrete Promotion Council of Texas.

The road ahead

Western Forms is currently completing four more Habitat for Humanity homes in New Orleans. The four New Orleans homes will be finished November 1, 2001.


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