On paper, a lot of professionals may associate premade materials or tools as inferior to their assembled counterparts. This may apply in some fields, but not so much when we talk about the world of construction. When it comes to large construction projects, space is always a concern on the different sites. As a result, pre-making certain components is not only a time-saver but a necessity in order for some jobs to be completed. Precast concrete is such an example, but like any sort of concrete, it brings different traits to the table. Here’s a look at some of the main pros and cons of it.
Advantages With Using Precast Concrete Wall
First, let’s briefly explain exactly what is precast concrete compared to its conventional counterpart. The primary difference is that precast concrete is created away from the construction site using a mold. Site cast concrete, the other main category, is poured into its final designation on site so it can harden. How exactly does this work out?
Here’s a brief rundown:
- -The precast concrete is controlled into a mold made of wood or steel. The molds generally also have either rebar, wire mesh, or prestressed cables present. It all depends on the final application.
- -The concrete is cured in a controlled environment as opposed to on-site or where it will eventually be. Generally, this is done in a plant.
- -The concrete is then moved to a construction site and put into place, like any other construction component.
So, what edge does this give precast concrete blocks over what else is out there? Here are some examples.
Efficiency is always an important part of work on a construction site. The faster you can get the job done without compromising safety or quality, the better. This leads to increased client satisfaction as well as the ability to move on to the next project faster, with increased profit for you. Precast concrete fits nicely into this methodology. Granted, there is prep work done off-site, but when the pieces arrive, you don’t have to worry about letting it form, frame, or cure. You can simply put the pieces where they are needed and move to the next stage of your project.
For structural reasons, it’s important that you take the time to make sure every single concrete component or building you make has the exact same properties. Precast concrete makes this a lot easier to do. Any components you use are created in a factory using the same molds repeatedly. Uniformity is generally the standard in this case.
Even with the best of intentions, certain tasks can be missed when it comes to quality checks on a busy job site. Being made in a facility specifically designed for their creation makes it a lot easier to monitor precast concrete before it is sent out. In addition, these pieces are made in a controlled environment. This makes them more durable than average concrete.
The bottom line is generally what sends most people to precast concrete in the first place. This plays out in multiple ways. For example, this concrete is less expensive than other variants, and also saves money by being quicker to implement.
Precast concrete is well-suited for a variety of applications, from support to foundation to full-on concrete structures. All you need is an appropriate mold.
Disadvantages With Using Precast Concrete Steps
As valuable as precast concrete blocks are to a lot of operations, they aren’t always the ideal match for every single job. After all, if there was a perfect concrete type to work with, it would be the only one around. So, what holds this type of concrete back from being perfect?
Any concrete contractor already has transportation available to move liquid concrete or other components to the job site in order to be poured as a baseline. When it comes to precast concrete, your baseline work vehicles may not be enough. By nature, this type of concrete is heavy enough to do damage to some conventional trucks. In addition, you also need to stabilize the components to avoid damaging the actual concrete pieces. Many companies are reliant on specialized transport methods like picker trucks.
This same situation applies to moving the pieces around when they get to the job site. Many contractors only have equipment available to actually pour it, not necessarily move around finished pieces. As a result, you may need to plan and budget for renting a crane.
Say that you go through all the trouble to transport and install precast concrete, only to find that it doesn’t fit the placement properly. This is something far more difficult to attend to than a similar situation with conventional concrete. This generally requires the proper materials to be ordered and transported before moving forward, representing additional costs and delays.
Whether you are planning on creating precast concrete walls or using precast concrete stairs, it’s important that your business has a full understanding of exactly what it takes in order to implement this into your workflow. This means having proper figures on how much time and money you can be saving. Failing to do this is limiting your profit, or worse, disguising the fact that there may be a better alternative to precast concrete for your business.
How do you properly account for these different costs and metrics? The ideal method is using project management software like eSub. By keeping track of the manhours your team spends as well as material costs, you can get an easy comparison of your jobs that use precast concrete versus those that don’t. This will help confirm that you made the right decision after switching over. If you are still on the fence, using these same tools will help you find areas of inefficiency where precast concrete may be at its most useful.