Precast vs Tilt Up WallsPosted: June 28, 2023
Building Materials Spotlight: Concrete Wall Panels
Selecting the construction type for each client’s specific needs can affect schedule, cost and the overall maintenance burden. One of the most important considerations in the design phase of a construction project is also one of the simplest: concrete.
Two of the most common and popular options for concrete wall construction are precast and tilt-up. Though similar, each solution has a clear application profile that makes it the most suitable choice for specific project needs. Below, we examine the differences between the two panel types.
Precast Concrete Wall Panels
Precast concrete panels are produced off-site in a predetermined size (usually in the range of 8-13 ft in width). Precast walls are then transported from the manufacturer via flatbed truck to the project site where they are erected via crane.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Precast Concrete Walls
Because precast panels are formed in a controlled manufacturing environment, they have several clear advantages related to deployment and project timeline. First, as precast panels are made off-site and shipped to job sites, space on-site is not required for the pouring and forming of panels. If the project site has space constraints or is heavily congested with vehicles, space considerations become a factor.
Secondly, because precast panels are produced in a controlled environment, they are not subject to weather concerns such as heavy rain or extreme temperature variations that can delay on-site concrete pouring and slow the construction process.
Precast panels are also a good option if they are being used to enhance an existing structure as they require far less setup on-site and can allow building operations to continue with minimal disruption.
Tilt-Up Concrete Wall Panels
Unlike precast panels, tilt-up panels are produced at the job site and then, as the name implies, tilted up into place.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Tilt-Up Wall Panels
Because tilt-up panels are produced on-site, they offer a greater level of flexibility and customization than precast panels. Project designers can continually make alterations to the design with little to no impact on project scheduling. The size of panels can be much greater (12-30 ft wide) as they do not need to fit on a truck for transport. As a result of the larger panels, the final structure will have fewer joints. However, the greater size requires a larger job site to pour the concrete and let it cure, as well as a larger crane to move the panels into place.