Concrete Construction: Concrete Tilt-Up & Masonry Block

Concrete construction is versatile and comes with many advantages. Concrete buildings resist fire, withstand tornadoes and hurricanes, and even take on earthquakes. These buildings are also flexible with their design and are built to last. When we build with concrete, there are two types of processes that we use which are masonry block and concrete tilt.

The building cost, time, and practicality for masonry and concrete tilt depend on a few factors. Masonry construction can be more affordable in areas where there isn’t a lot of expertise in concrete tilt construction and also where there is an abundant masonry labor source. Another factor is building size. For buildings smaller than 10,000 square feet, masonry construction is most likely a preferable choice. This is because the floor space may not be enough to cast panels and the expense for the crane to tilt the panels may not be economical. The size of the building also applies to the height. For buildings over 24 feet, tilt-up is more economical and practical as the depth of the walls only need to be slightly larger while masonry requires larger block units.

When constructing with masonry block, the block is usually joined together by a mortar that is a mixture typically made of sand, cement, and water. Brick by brick, masonry block construction stacks up to be very popular for retail buildings and shopping centers. An advantage of masonry construction is that it is easier to set over uneven grades than tilt-up panels. Tilt-up generally needs an even graded slab to stand the panels upright.

In concrete tilt-up construction, the building’s walls are created at the job site by pouring concrete into horizontal wood forms to create panels. After about a week, the concrete gains sufficient strength for lifting and the forms are removed. When ready to lift the panels, cables are attached to inserts and a crane lifts each panel in a sequence until all exterior panels are set into their desired position. Today, concrete tilt construction is very popular for warehouses, distribution centers, offices, shopping centers, schools, and other types of industrial/commercial facilities.

A variation of tilt-up construction is using precast concrete walls. In this process, the concrete panels are not created at the job site. Instead, these panels are cast in a manufacturing facility and shipped to the job site. After the panels arrive at the job site, the process of lifting/tilting the walls is the same. This construction process provides a huge advantage in cold climates because it can be expensive and difficult to cast concrete panels when the temperature drops below freezing. A disadvantage of having precast panels is that their size will be limited because they have to be transported to the site.

Two of our projects that are currently under construction are concrete tilt buildings. The first project is the new Jelly Belly Warehouse which is over 100,000 square feet. We recently did a time-lapse video of a huge concrete pour and tilt-up process. You can check out the latest video here: The second project is a new Lucky California Grocery Store in Dublin, CA which uses precast concrete panels. Overall, concrete construction is versatile and can be used for any type of building. We have built grocery stores, retail stores, warehouses, offices, a car dealership, and even a clubhouse for a country club with concrete construction processes.

If you have any questions or if you’re interested in building in the future, please give us a call or email. We hope you’ll consider Huff Construction for your next project. Let’s build excellence together.

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