What comes to mind when you think of Precast Concrete?
Ugly? Boring? Expensive? Complicated? Or do you wonder, what is precast concrete?
If that is what you are thinking – you might be wrong!
What Is Precast Concrete, and What Don’t You Know About It?
But let us start from the beginning: What is (precast) concrete, anyway?
Concrete is a composite construction material that contains a percentage of cement, water, aggregates like sand, gravel/crushed stone and other components like fly ash and chemical admixtures. Ingredients, their percentages as well as their treatment can vary according to the type of concrete that is being produced.
Concrete as such is not a modern invention. Actually, it has been known to the Romans of the ancient world. It has been, for example, used in the construction of the famous Colosseum in Rome.
Since then, the use and variety of concrete have been widely expanded. Increased chemical knowledge in combination with advanced technologies enables the production of different kinds of concrete, depending on its intended use and requirements.
What Makes Precast Concrete Different?
Precast concrete is produced by pouring a cement mixture, while still in its viscous form, into prefabricated reusable molds and then letting it dry and harden. This procedure does of course not happen on the building site, but off-site in factories.
Precast concrete can be used for fencing and retaining walls, but also plays a role in actual building/home construction. It provides a whole array of benefits for the builders:
Modern technologies and streamlined production help to make the use of precast concrete surprisingly cost-effective.
The use of precast concrete, for example in form of precast concrete wall panels, save a lot of time on-site: Since the production of the panels is done at the factory, it can be done either in advance, or in case of customized pieces can take place, while the actual construction on-site is still in its early stages. Therefore, once the precast elements are required and have been transported to the building site, this particular part of the construction process works much quicker. Building construction can, therefore, follow a much tighter schedule, which of course also benefits the cost-effectiveness. After all, when it comes to property development, the old adage comes into play: Time is money!
Precast concrete – neither ugly nor boring! Due to diverse modern treatment and processing techniques, there is meanwhile a large flexibility when it comes to design questions. Nowadays, concrete can actually be used as a decorative material, which means it has come a long way from what it used to look like. The precast elements are also highly customizable regarding their measurements so that the finished product can be adapted to match various looks and requirements.
Precast concrete is durable and strong. Due to the various components that can be added to the cement mixture, much can be done to additionally reinforce the elements during the prefabrication stage and to stabilize the structure of the material.
It is not unusual for recycled construction materials (for example debris/rubble from demolishing sites) to be added to the mixture for new precast concrete elements.
What were your misconceptions about precast concrete before reading this article? Let us know in the comments below.