Why Use Precast?
Precast concrete panels have emerged as a popular building material and are used in the construction of a wide variety of commercial, industrial, residential, landscaping and civil projects; largely due to the material’s high quality, ease of installation and cost effectiveness.
Benefits of using precast concrete panels in construction:
- Low Maintenance - The low maintenance nature of the material means that no regular painting or protection treatments are required in order to maintain its aesthetic and functional appearance.
- Secure - Concrete is a secure material that is resistant to impact and weather elements as well as possessing a higher tolerance to fire, flood and burglary; regularly leading to lower insurance premiums on buildings.
- Pleasing return on investment - Investors and owner-occupiers can expect a faster return on investment given the nature of precast construction. Shorter build times means that occupation/sale of the building can occur sooner than many other building types.
- Superior Performance - There are thermal mass and acoustic performance benefits that can be achieved with precast buildings; where they can play a significant role in reducing heating and cooling costs along with noise disturbance.
- Architecturally Designed Features - The architecturally designed features and finishes that can be applied to precast concrete panels are limited only by the imagination. Wood grain, polished and exposed aggregates are just some of the many finishes available to add an aesthetic appeal to any building. Cast-in signage, in-lay designs along with tinting and colouring also provide the opportunity for a unique result.
Typically, there are two manufacturing methods for concrete panelling; precast and tilt-up.
The choice of which panel manufacturing process is used comes down to site access, availability of local precasting facilities and the standard of finishes and designs desired.
Precast Panel Manufacturing
Off-site precasting is poured in a factory situation and is transported to the site once ready to be installed. By precasting offsite, the concrete can be prepared and set in a controlled environment away from weather related variables that could cause inaccuracies and disrupt quality finishes. For instance, Akura’s precast factory has been designed to provide a controlled environment optimal for reduced curing times and advanced mix ratios achieve superior strength to withstand transport and erection loads.
Off-site precast panelling also allows for more accurate positioning of inserts, insulation, openings and services due to the use of high-quality framework that cannot be used in tilt-up manufacturing. Furthermore, precast panels allow for the integration of architecturally designed features such as wood grain, polished and exposed aggregate finishes for a unique and aesthetically pleasing result.
Tilt-Up Panel Manufacturing
On-site tilt-up panel manufacturing is a time and space consuming practice that can impact on the quality assurance of the final product. But it can be beneficial on small, hard to access sites that precast concrete panels would not be able to be transported into. Tilt-up panel manufacturing can restrict other work on-site given the panels take up so much site space and can result in extra joins due to the walls being bigger than the ground available.
Weather can have a major impact on tilt-up production with unfavourable weather spoiling the panels and delaying construction further. Combine this with the longer curing times as a result of the uncontrolled environment and the risk of waste, cost and potential delay are clear.
There are a few installation options available for precast concrete panels. Temporary foundation systems such as in-situ concrete strips or bored pier designed footings that anchor the concrete panels to the ground and keep them upright are commonly used processes that are cost and time effective. Although, these processes do involve drilling into the internal slab of a building or creating temporary concrete strips.
In cases of commercial buildings where the finish of the flooring is important, products such as Earthbolt can be used as a way to support the concrete panels during the erection process; leaving the internal slab to be poured last after all other construction is complete. This prevents machinery leaving marks on the flooring or holes from the temporary foundation systems.
The main variation in pricing between tilt up and off-site precast panelling is the transportation of the precast panels to the construction site. However, this cost can be easily justified with guarantees of a faster built project and a higher quality product. Weather delays and incorrectly bonded panels can result in unforeseen costs in tilt-up construction. Thus, whilst tilt-up may be a cost-effective option initially, this method does rely on several variables that can have a major impact on the construction programme such as time delays due to weather, curing times and inaccurate panels going to waste.
The price of precast concrete panels can vary dependent on the nature and location of the build along with required panel sizing, thickness and finishes – but as a standard it is approximately $250 per sqm supplied and installed.
Precast concrete panels assure quality, consistency and rapid results as well as price guarantees – thus no variations.