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Advantages of Tilt-Wall Construction for Houston Build to Suit Projects

Posted on November 20, 2014 by Chelsey

Tilt-wall construction, also called tilt-up, offers several advantages over other building methods. All construction requires meticulous planning, but tilt-up allows quicker, more economical production once the actual construction phase begins. While this overview explains the basic building technique and many of its benefits, a company that offers Houston general construction services is the best source for detailed project information.

Tilt-wall construction uses concrete slabs for walls. Instead of vertical creation, crews form slabs horizontally on the ground as individual panels and then tilt them up into position. This might sound like prefabrication where workers build components offsite and then transport them to a job site for assembly. Although it is possible to make concrete walls that way, tilt-up construction is more efficient. Prefab panel sizes are limited due to concrete’s considerable weight and the need for transportation. Tilt-up construction builds slabs onsite, which increases size options and eliminates transportation costs.

The tilt-up method does require some added planning for layout and sequencing of the panels. Yet this helps lessen actual construction time and costs because workers follow a specific, orderly progression that becomes something like an assembly line. Additionally, advanced planning minimizes expensive rental time for cranes needed to lift the panels into place.

During construction, the building’s floor or a separate, temporary slab serves as a casting surface for making wall panels. Formwork built on the casting slab provides specific shaping, including spaces for doors and windows; doing this work entirely at ground level helps keep workers safe and generates quicker results than vertical production. A chemical bond breaker sprayed onto the casting surface and the forms allows the new slab to separate from the base after it cures. Next, steel reinforcements and attachment plates are placed within the framework, and then workers pour the concrete. If layout space is limited, panels can be cast in stacks. Cranes then lift the cured panels in a designated order, and braces hold them in position. Lastly, the walls are securely fastened to the building’s floor and roof framework.

Early tilt-up buildings were fairly boxy in appearance and were often only one-story high. Now, they may be six stories high and can incorporate any architectural design that owners desire. For economy’s sake, buildings constructed with tilt-up walls are usually at least 5,000 square feet, and typical wall heights reach 30 feet or less. Of course, additional options are always available. For aesthetics, contractors can incorporate elements such as exposed brick into the casting or perhaps pigment to color the concrete. Paints and stains are also possible, and sandblasting, exposed aggregate and acid etching can provide texture. Houston build to suit contractors have numerous ways of enhancing plain concrete walls.

There are plenty of practical advantages to tilt-up construction as well. Insulation can be included on either side of a slab, yet “sandwiching” is the most common method; this involves two panel layers with insulation placed in between. The inner layer remains load bearing while the outer layer, connected through the insulation, weathers temperature changes to prevent cracks. Keeping panels unattached to each other also prevents cracks by allowing individual expansion and contraction.

Concrete requires little maintenance, especially if unpainted, and it is resistant to water, weathering and fire. Tilt-up slabs are usually 5.5 to 7.25 inches thick, which makes them fire resistant for at least two hours and possibly up to four hours; the thicker the panel, the greater the fire resistance. Also, should it become necessary, tilt-up walls can be disassembled and moved. This is especially convenient for increasing a building’s size.

An experienced Houston general contractor can verify that tilt-up construction is both quick and cost efficient for specific projects. Its many practical and aesthetic benefits only add to the appeal.