Precast concrete is a construction method that can be used to create a wide variety of building materials by pouring concrete into a mold (which is often reusable) in a factory setting, and then curing and finishing the dried concrete forms before transporting them to a construction site for use. Precast concrete panels and walls are commonly used in all kinds of construction projects because precast concrete has many advantages over concrete poured at the site. The following are some of those advantages.
The main improvement of precast concrete over standard concrete is uniformity and quality assurance. When standard concrete is used, there are many factors at the project site that can negatively affect the quality of the finished concrete forms. For instance, fluctuations in the temperature and humidity from day to day can result in uneven curing times and results – to say nothing of the possible effects of precipitation and other contaminants, such as dirt. Additionally, the workers pouring the concrete or building the forms may have varying degrees of experience and skill. Precast concrete from a plant, where the conditions are always the same and the workers are specialists that do nothing but work with concrete, eliminates all of these vulnerabilities. And on top of that, the molds are created with an eye to reuse, so they are better built (and more cost-effective).
In addition to quality control, precast concrete saves time (and thus money) by arriving at the construction site ready to be used. Rather than waiting for the concrete to cure before work is able to proceed, work can continue without interruption as the premolded forms are lifted into place. And each piece will have been created to the exact specifications necessary. One after the other, they will fit perfectly.
Precast concrete is highly durable and very strong. Studies have shown that precast concrete actually gets stronger as it ages, and that it has a lifespan of well over 100 years. Additionally, concrete is highly resistant to chemicals and fire, and is very low maintenance. Concrete is also an effective sound barrier.
But precast concrete is more than just a strong partner for any builder – it can also have a pretty face, too. Many hues and textures can be applied to the concrete, and the shapes it can take are virtually endless. Curved surfaces are no problem. And each piece that comes from the mold will be identical to all the others.
From walls to steps, from traffic barriers to bridge materials, in sports arenas and parking garages and all sorts of buildings in between, the uses for precast concrete are limited only by the imagination of the architects designing with them.
John G. Stone is a freelance blogger who specializes in landscaping renovations and similar issues. He has a particular interest in uses for precast concrete, such as precast concrete panels and walls.