In the U.S. precast concrete is a relatively new product that has quickly become very popular. As a building material, it is extremely strong, durable, and quite versatile. Precast concrete is now so common here, it is hard to believe that, before 1950, it had never been used in this country.
Building Benefits of Precast Concrete
Before precast concrete, the walls of a concrete structure were not made until the foundation of the building was complete. Now, the foundation and walls of a structure can be made simultaneously. This significantly decreases the amount of time it takes to complete the building and reduces labor costs, as well.
Since precast concrete comes to a job site ready made, weather plays less of a role in the time it takes to finish a project. When concrete was formed at the job site, precipitation and high levels of moisture could severely affect when the concrete could be poured, as well as how long it would take to cure.
Precast Concrete Characteristics
Fire resistance, sound absorption, and ultra smooth surfaces are a few of the things that make precast concrete so popular among builders. Though it is often thought of as a commercial or industrial product, many condominiums, apartment buildings, and even some houses have made use of its fantastic list of credentials. Structures containing precast concrete are even subject to lower insurance rates because of its strength and ability to withstand fire.
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This type of concrete is often produced indoors to make sure that the concrete can cure under optimal conditions. Conditions that are so well controlled can produce a product that is superior in its finished form and to the exact specifications of the purchaser.
Precast concrete starts with a form that is used to shape concrete that is poured into it. The form is lubricated before the concrete is introduced so it is easier to remove. The poured concrete is allowed to mostly cure, and then it is removed. By the time it reaches the job site, it is cured completely.
Precast Concrete Forms
A precast concrete form is either standard or specialty. There are many standard forms for many different applications, but each is made to be reproduced many times. Standard forms are often used in buildings, bridges, and other structures because they are more cost effective; the same form can be used to produce multiple pieces, which, in turn, can be used to build multiple structures of the same variety.
A specialty precast concrete form is made for a specific job and is rarely (if ever) used again in another structure. While the form is still used to make multiple pieces, the pieces are generally only good for use in the project they were made for. Specialty forms are often found in architecture that was designed to look or function differently than others of its type.