Commercial Construction: Three Important Factors Determining Tilt-Up Panel Strength

19 May 2016
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog


If you are constructing your new commercial space, you should consider using tilt-up panels. This type of construction technique involves forming the critical concrete elements for the structure horizontally, on the ground. These features include walls, building columns and other important concrete features. Once these panels are cured after preparation, they are lifted or tilted up to the desired vertical position. This method is beneficial in terms of reduced project costs, improved durability and even accelerated construction time. If you decide to choose this construction method, it is important to understand the factors affecting the strength of tilt-up panels. This will help you ensure that all your building panels will perform well.

Type of Concrete 

Basic concrete is prepared by mixing an aggregate building material with fluid cement. However, this type of mixture is not prepared in the same processes or with exact constituents. By varying these aspects, the concrete can be designed to have specific properties and suit specific applications. It is important to inquire about the concrete options that your contractor can provide for your tilt-up panels. Normal concrete is the standard water, aggregate and cement mixture, and it has sufficient strength for most applications. High-strength concrete is similar but it has lower water-cement ratio. This increases compressive strength and durability. If your building is set in a region with freeze-thaw conditions, consider using air-entrained concrete since it allows expansion and contraction.

Internal Reinforcement

The tilt-up panels used in commercial building construction require internal reinforcement to provide support. The nature of this covered framework will affect the strength of the prepared structural elements. Normally, a rebar grid is used as the internal support framework for the panels. The size and even the spacing of the reinforcing steel components will affect the strength and stability of the structure. Thicker rebar elements and smaller spacing in the grid will increase the strength of your walls and columns. However, steel is heavy, so these will increase the total weight of the panels. This is often undesirable in tilt-up construction, so discuss the ideal balance with your engineer.

Lifting Equipment

The heavy equipment used to lift the cured tilt-up panels can affect the building's strength. In simple terms, if the elements are mishandled during the vertical placement, the concrete will be compromised. For example, it could sustain cracks and cosmetic blemishes. Therefore, you should ensure that good lifting systems are utilised during the erection process. Cranes are the most ideal for secure lifting and tilting, but specialised tractors can install smaller panels.