Dating back to the early Romans, who mixed crushed limestone and soft rocks with sand and water to create one of the first forms of concrete, the use of this material—even in its more primitive precast forms—has been instrumental in supporting a number of applications requiring strength and durability. Of course, precast concrete has come a long way since the days of Roman molds and wooden forms, but the practicality, versatility and value of this option remains as true and real as ever.
Today, precast concrete walls are leveraged in a variety of settings and for a multitude of uses. In contrast to concrete that is poured at the site of an application, precasting supports a more viable concrete product at a greater cost benefit. Precast concrete walls are selected for any number of advantages this type of barrier or fencing solution brings to the table. Here, we’re highlighting the kinds of applications often best suited to employing precast concrete walls and what the significant advantages of doing so entail.
Common Applications For Precast Concrete Walls
Precast concrete as we know it today was introduced into construction applications in Liverpool, England, in the early 1900s. Thanks to the British civil engineer and inventor John Alexander Brodie, the concept of precast reinforced concrete slabs was established. Since then, precast concrete has become a predominant choice for many construction applications. Precast concrete walls are widely employed for their security, soundproofing, structural, aesthetic and cost-efficiency benefits.
From commercial properties to civil projects, following are some of the most common industry applications for precast concrete wall solutions.
Government or Municipal
Because precast concrete walls are perhaps the most impenetrable form of high-security fencing and often the best choice when high-level defense measures are required, they are a popular choice for government or municipal applications, such as:
- Embassies and military installations
- Waste management facilities
- Postal facilities
- Land parcels
With options for meeting height requirements and noise-reduction effects, precast concrete walls are a prime choice for these types of needs and settings.
Commercial fencing is a significant concern for retailers and real estate developers alike. It’s important for commercial properties to pay particular attention to elements like security, safety, costs, installation plans and codes. For these reasons, precast concrete walls have become a staple in modern commercial perimeter and fencing applications. Because the manufacturing of precast concrete walls enables them to be finished on both sides, they are an attractive option for commercial retailers and developers seeking this particular aesthetic.
Whether you’re talking about utility substations, power and chemical plants or another critical entity, it’s vital to ensure the protection of various infrastructure. Precast concrete walls are often an ideal solution for these applications, given their strength, security and durability features. They are also more affordable than standard concrete and can be installed on a much shorter timeline. With the ability to add high-security elements like barbed/razor wire, lighting and cameras, precast concrete walls are an optimal match for infrastructure projects. In the case of highway systems, precast walls aid in noise reduction.
8 Major Benefits Associated With Precast Concrete Walls
Let’s take a deeper dive into the tangible advantages of precast concrete walls and what exactly makes them so appealing for many of the specific applications mentioned above.
Benefit #1: High-Level Security
One of the most significant characteristics of precast concrete walls for high-security needs is that it is nearly impossible to scale. It also has the unique advantage of being bullet resistant. When combined with other security features, like barbed/razor wire, video surveillance or the like, precast concrete walls support a formidable defense against outside threats.
Benefit #2: Noise Reduction
Concrete provides an excellent sound barrier when noise is a consideration. It is especially effective for minimizing sound pollution when applied to highway fencing, essentially absorbing sound waves or blocking and reflecting them back to the area from which they came. Precast concrete walls can lessen perceived noise by as much as half, significantly detracting highway sounds from surrounding areas.
Benefit #3: Strength & Durability
Precast concrete can withstand winds of hurricane proportions and is often used to erect strongly engineered retaining walls that defend against lateral earth pressure. Steel rebar or reinforcing mesh can be applied to create greater bonding of the material and prevent cracks. Post-installation, these types of walls require minimal maintenance.
Benefit #4: Quality & Uniformity
Many precast concrete walls, especially those constructed for federal and state Departments of Transportation, are produced in plants certified by the Architectural Precast Association (APA) or the National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA). They are manufactured in a supervised environment by highly qualified and experienced technicians, rendering a high standard of quality for the final product. Because the concrete pouring is performed on a level surface, this gives the precast walls unmatched evenness and uniformity.
Benefit #5: Versatility in Aesthetics
While the initial state of the cement used to create precast concrete walls is generally of a white or gray nature, pigments can be added to generate a more desirable color, depending on the architectural and aesthetic needs at hand. There are additives and customization techniques that can be leveraged as well, giving precast concrete walls the versatility to curate different designs and finishes.
Benefit #6: Streamlined Installation Process
Installation basically involves drilling and setting foundations for the concrete posts and then placing the premade panels in between. Because of the consistency of the premanufactured panels, they are easier to place and require less time and manual labor. Those benefits contribute to an overall lower project cost.
Benefit #7: Affordability
Speaking of project costs, precast concrete walls can support a significant pricing advantage. As the concrete is poured into molds off-site, there’s no need for on-site formwork, which adds up to considerable cost savings. It’s the reason why opting for precast concrete is a less expensive choice than traditional or standard concrete.
Benefit #8: Sustainability
Given the high thermal mass of concrete, it has the capacity to absorb thermal energy, which is an advantage in controlling heat and cold in applicable settings. That could equate to less excess energy deployed to maintain temperatures. In addition, the fact that precast concrete walls are manufactured in a plant means there’s less disturbance to the actual work site and surrounding ecology.
All in all, the defining qualities of precast concrete walls, which account for valuable benefits from quality and affordability to security and environmental impact, make this a popular and suitable solution for a variety of needs and applications.
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