What is a Pre-Cast and Cast-in-Place Concrete and Their Difference?

Precast vs Cast in place concrete

Many people outside the construction world may not know that there is a way for contractors and builders to create a house or a building in a fast way. This is by pre-cast or cast-in-place concrete. If you’re not familiar with it, you might be wondering what is Pre-Cast and Cast-in-Place Concrete all about and what is their connection with buildings, road projects, housing projects, or maybe landscaping. In this article, learn beyond the definition of pre-cast and cast-in-place concrete.

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Defining Pre-Cast and Cast-in-Place Concrete

What is the difference between Pre-Cast and Cast-in-Place and how do we all benefit from these two kinds of concrete by contributing in creating beautiful infrastructure? Let us define them, first.

What is Pre-Cast Concrete?

Pre-Cast Concrete is a concrete product that is created offsite and then delivered to its project destination for final use. Pre-Cast is sometimes called prefabricated or pre-made concrete that is ready to use right away on the construction site.

What is Cast-in-Place Concrete?

Is mixed and poured directly into a mold on-site. It is the more traditional style of concreting, where cement trucks arrive on-site and workers pour out the mix into specific areas. It is mainly used for foundation and load-bearing structures like beams and columns.

Brief History of Cast-in-Place and Pre-cast Concrete

Cast-in-Place Concrete

Sir Thomas Edison was the first one to recognize the potential benefit of building homes with concrete before it was even understood historically in the 1850s or more than 100 years ago the most common form of building basement walls is the technique using Cast-in-place concrete; walls are made with ready-mix concrete placed into removable forms. Thomas Edison was one to recognize above-grade applications of removable forms for single-family homes for below-grade or basement walls. Thomas Edison also did some demonstration projects about this project and eventually, several single-family homes were made entirely of concrete.

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Pre-Cast Concrete

In 1300 BC, builders in the Middle East discovered how to make a hard cement-like coating covering their clay homes with burned limestone. A few centuries later the Roman had begun to mix crushed limestone and other soft rocks with sand and water to create an early form of concrete; they poured it into a mold or wooden forms in the catacombs with required precision of measurement and durability of the contrition. The ability of Ancient Romans who have been able to construct pre-mold concrete, and install multiple slabs and underground tunnels despite obstacles has inspired large cities like Asia and Europe in expanding versions of precast concrete.

What’s the Difference Between a Pre-Cast and Cast-in-Place Concrete?

The way they were constructed and produced. The methods of how they were built and constructed are not the same. But the major difference between Pre-cast and Cast-in-Place is the Method of Construction although when you look at the product you will see at some point they are identical but this is the main and primary difference between these two.

When it Comes to Materials…

For casting concrete in place the materials needed are steel, aluminum, and wood while for Precast the use of cement, aggregates, waterproofing, pigments, reinforcement bars, and pre-stressing tendons.

The difference in Types of Cast-in-Place and Pre-Cast Products

For Cast-in-Place placing formwork, placing reinforcement, and pouring concrete. For Pre-cast we have Box and three-sided culverts, bridges, curb inlets, catch basins, foundation, grease interceptors, highway barriers, pump stations, manholes, onsite water tanks, paving slabs, pipes, retaining walls, sound walls, underground utility vaults, wall panels, and veneers.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cast-in-Place and Pre-cast Concrete

Advantages of Cast-in-Place

1. Strength

Strength is the primary benefit of cast-in-place concrete and its high level of strength. Cast-in-place is appropriate for basement walls and home foundations. Cast-in-Place is relatively resistant to earthquakes, floods, or any natural disaster.

2. Insulation and thermal insulation

Insulation and Thermal Infusion is an advantage that keeps the basement which keeps basements from taking on the cold temperature and moisture. Cast-in-Place takes a high degree of insulation and also insulates sound, insects, mold, and mildew since they cannot penetrate cast-in-place concrete easily since there are no cracks or gaps between the materials.

3. Versatility

Cast-in-place advantage for versatility includes builders can use varied types of homes and buildings, it can allow builders too to customize forms and design using computer modeling and builders can reuse cast-in-place in standard forms in basement and walls.

4. Adaptability,

Cast-in-place can adopt any shape of the building

5. Monolithic concrete,

Cast-in-place can be more or less monolithic, the joints are provided at the same structure.

6. Structure

Cast-in-place is a Two-way way Structural System and no crane is needed.

Disadvantages of Cast-in-Place

1. Labor Requirements

In cast-in-place disadvantage is that it requires a high amount of labor. Whereas Builders must first construct forms for the walls they plan to cast and pour the mixture next, and then waiting comes next. This is when extending the time of work for crews because they need to wait to remove all the forms and waiting takes time.

2. Quality Control

Quality Control is not assured. Cast-in-place must be cured before it is subjected to any other load.

Advantages of Pre-Cast

1. Simplified material inputs and cost

Pre-Cast simplifies the construction and increases efficiency because precast products already contain concrete, conduits, and rebar there is no need to buy these materials.

2. Time Efficient

Less time needed to install precast is immediate for use; there is no need anymore to set up cardboard, bend and position rebar, pour and wait for the concrete to cure. This duration can save valuable expenses and project duration and labor as well.

3. Cost-effectiveness

Cost-effective for large projects Precast concrete costs decrease as project sale increases since the setup and installation do not require a lot of time.

4. Steel Bars Reinforced

Pre-Cast concrete products are already reinforced with steel bars and curing to ensure set up correctly.

5. Higher-quality control

Precast concrete is stress-tested before being delivered to the final job site they are inspected for defects before shipping.

Disadvantages of Pre-Cast

  1. Investment is high for installation since heavy machines are needed to scale construction projects.
  2. Needs crane and trailers for Transportation due to location distance.
  3. Since the pre-cast is heavy and large they need proper care and precaution to prevent damage.
  4. Pre-Cast concrete cannot be used for two-way structural systems. It is not easy to dismantle or modify a structure that has been already built there will be a possible impact on the stability of the structure.

Which is Better Between Cast-in-Place and Pre-Cast Concrete Products?

For any construction project that we want to build or to be built for us, we are aiming and rooting for future reliability, safety and stability, we want sustainability, ensuring that the construction creates assurance that we get to enjoy our life without any worries and doubts.

But in any construction, there is a need for concrete decisions for us to choose the kind of product that will be able to meet or achieve that worry-free living by absolutely knowing and learning which is the best to choose. Knowing builders’ opinions and thorough research is your helpful kit in deciding which of the two your choice is.

To help you further here are the builder’s opinions in terms of cost, quality, versatility, and durability, about Pre-cast and Cast-in-place concrete products.

A. Quality

Between Precast and Cast-in-place, precast concrete is often stronger since these products are already strengthened or held up with steel bars and the curing is done by a controlled process that ensures that the concrete is set correctly under ideal conditions to maximize its strength. Precast quality emerges in the curing process because precast concrete is strictly monitored and checked before bringing them to Jobsite, like any other products in the curing process any deformities or irregularities are being watched to ensure that the concrete is set correctly according to needs and standards.

B. Durability

With regards to Durability, Precast concrete is cast in a controlled environment means they are precise and regulated to meet the operational needs hence the result is, that these precast products can be more durable and long-lasting than any other type of concrete.

C. Costing

Pre-Cast Concrete is has a fixed price since it is factory-made and standardized which will help you compute your budget accurately and avoid over-budget

D. Versatility

Since Precast is manufactured and shipped to different customers or builders that have different kinds of needs, Precast has an equally varied range of applications like motifs, colors, sizes, and finishes that meets the needs of architectural elements. Indeed Precast is in many ways more versatile than cast-in-place concrete.

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Venturing on a scale of construction project whether small or large there is always a high complex of decisions for contractors, designers, and planners, it is a major decision between what to choose between pre-cast and cast-in-place. There is a need to know the material or the method to be used for each project or construction, knowing is always the key to formalizing your decision whether or not you choose cast-in-place or pre-cast concrete.

The decision to choose is our accountability to any infrastructure construction we want to build. By looking and analyzing both ends of all the requirements in whether or not the project is pre-cast or cast-in-place the transparency, right choice and clear principles will always lead to better outcome and income, comfort and stability, progress, and opportunities.

Remember the cycle in decision making will help you to scrutinize all needs to prioritize, the right product, and the necessary structure for well-being. Thus, any construction decision is circled with the concept of system, installation, and management that will help you build a successful and better community.

Written by Rowena Lansang