This vs that: precast vs. site-cast concrete

Anyone who is managing a commercial construction project will likely at some point consider the question of whether to go with precast concrete or site-cast concrete, also known as poured concrete. It is no small consideration, as each has its benefits.

Comparing precast and block concrete

Understanding precast concrete

Precast concrete provides concrete structures that are formed, placed and finished in a plant under controlled conditions. Here’s what you can expect with precast concrete:

  • Coordination required between the design team and the precast concrete manufacturer during the design phase.
  • Depending upon the time of year, precast concrete can be accompanied by long lead times for shop drawings, fabrication and delivery.
  • Precast concrete can be erected in most weather conditions — weather is typically not a factor as the precast concrete is formed, placed and finished in a controlled environment
  • The duration to enclose a building is faster than site-cast concrete
  • A project construction schedule may be accelerated
  • Precast concrete must adhere to strict strength requirements before being shipped to the project site, ensuring consistent quality
  • Is more labor efficient as some work can be done with machines versus by skilled labor
  • May limit future renovations

Understanding site-cast concrete

Site-cast concrete provides concrete structures that are formed, placed and finished on site under the conditions experienced at the site. Here’s what you can expect with poured concrete:

  • Weather can be a factor, and cold weather can delay a project due to inefficiencies in placement, temporary heat & cover requirements and additional cure time required
  • Many variables (for lack of a controlled environment) can impact the strength of the final product, including weather, humidity and even wind
  • On-location skilled labor is required to form, place and finish the concrete on site
  • All testing of the quality of the final product must be done on location and due to lack of a controlled environment
  • Minimal lead time for materials related to site-cast concrete, so construction can commence soon after the design phase is complete
  • Provides to opportunity to start portions of the project (foundation work) while the design is still being completed
  • Longer duration of installation on site compared to precast concrete
  • The versatility of site-cast concrete allows for changes in the design after construction has commenced

Pre-cast or block? The choice for your commercial construction project is yours.

According to a trade magazine, demand for precast concrete is rising, projected to grow by 6.4% this year for a total of $12.2 billion. Of course, whether it’s right for you is dependent on numerous factors and specifications for your project.