Tilt-Up Construction vs. Precast: What is the Difference?
Tilt-up concrete construction and precast concrete construction are non-traditional building methods that can deliver quick project completion, low construction costs, and versatile design. And while there are many similarities between the two approaches, there are also significant differences.
Five things to consider when choosing between tilt-up and precast:
Location, location, location
The main difference between tilt-up construction and precast construction is the location where the concrete panels are formed.
Tilt-up panels are poured on the job site using a casting bed, and then lifted into place using cranes. Forming the panels on site eliminates the need for transportation, but since the panels are poured and cured outside, weather conditions need to be taken into consideration. At Tilwall Ontario we are prepared to pour concrete panels during the cold winter months, as proven at the Broadview Public School in Ottawa.
Precast concrete panels are formed off-site, usually in a factory. Casting in a controlled environment eliminates the risk of delay brought on by bad weather, but the cost of panel storage and transportation to the site can be significant.
Concrete Panel Size
Since tilt-up panels do not require transportation, they can be extremely large or tall. Practically the only limit to their size and shape is the size of the job site.
The size of precast panels is limited in order to make transportation to the site possible. These size limitations often mean that there are many more panels to erect and joints to fill.
When it comes to building design, tilt-up offers almost limitless flexibility. On-site casting means molds can form unique shapes that meet any design vision.
Precast offers less opportunity for customized shapes, since slabs are typically cast in reusable molds at a factory.
Both methods offer a range of panel finishes, including a variety of colours and textures.
Casting and curing concrete panels can become more complicated when the temperature drops below freezing, so seasonal weather conditions need to be taken into consideration when planning a tilt-up construction project.
Since precast concrete slabs are poured indoors weather is not a factor, however casted panels will need to be stored and transported to the site before assembly can begin. And precast lead times can vary based on production capacity.
With fewer panel joints, tilt-up insulated concrete panels provide continuous insulation and a true thermal envelope – which is now a building code and energy code requirement.
Precast panels can be separated with concrete ribs and include pockets of interrupted insulation where air and water can infiltrate.
8 more advantages of tilt-up construction over precast construction
- Tilt-up wall panels are load-bearing. This eliminates the need for perimeter columns and roof beams needed in many precast construction projects. Column-free walls means reduced construction costs and increased flexibility for exterior openings.
- Tilt-up panels can be taller and wider than precast panels so there are fewer panels to erect, reducing construction costs and speeding up construction.
- With fewer panel joints, it’s more difficult for air and water to penetrate a tilt-up building. And that means less maintenance over the long run.
- Tilt-up panels deliver a more uniform finish since they benefit from on-site quality control during the casting process.
- Tilt-up panels can be cast in a wide variety of shapes and sizes for maximum design flexibility.
- Since nothing is cast until it is cast on-site, tilt-up can more easily accommodate any design changes.
- With no production capacity lead times, tilt-up offers faster shell completion compared to precast construction.
- Tilt-up’s superior thermal performance conserves energy and reduces energy operating costs.
The team at Tiltwall Ontario Inc. is here to answer all your tilt-up construction questions. Get in touch and find out if tilt-up can work for your next building project.