At Mohan’s Precast, we absolutely love precast concrete and firmly believe in its ability to stand up to any challenge. When we say any challenge, we absolutely mean it; even if that challenge may be to go up against the two most common and popular construction materials in the world; steel and wood.
This is your “Weekly Matchup” blog series, and today we’ll pit the rising contender, precast concrete, against the classic contenders, steel and wood framings.
So let’s get started…
Round 1: Total Cost of Ownership
For any construction project, the total cost of ownership inarguably matters the most. Whether you’re building a home or an office, you want the most cost-effective solution for your project.
A recent study compared the total cost of ownership for six multi-residential construction projects, each built with different construction materials, including steel framing, wood framing and precast concrete. Of the six construction projects compared, the building made from precast concrete outperformed every other building type in total cost of ownership.
Winner: Precast concrete!
Round 2: Safety
Safety refers to a material’s resistance to natural disasters, fires, water, mold and insects. Here, once again, precast concrete beats steel and wood framings by a clear margin.
Structures made from precast concrete are more resilient to wind damage, fire damage, rain and even earthquakes, compared to structures made from steel or wood. Steel can easily soften and melt when exposed to extreme temperatures. Metal doesn’t fare well against rain because it corrodes when exposed to moisture. Wood is no match for fire and is known to be prone to termite infestation.
Winner: Precast concrete!
Round 3: Sustainability
Steel is nearly 100% recyclable while wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests. Concrete, on the other hand, has a reputation for producing significant construction waste. But this is precast concrete we’re talking about here; not in-situ concrete.
Precast concrete is manufactured in a controlled environment to reduce wastage below levels observed with the production of in-situ concrete components. This brings precast concrete on par with steel and wood in terms of sustainability.
Winner: It’s a tie!
Round 4: Insulation
Steel has a very low R-value, which makes it a poor insulation material. Wood, on the other hand, has R-values between 1.41 per inch for softwoods and 0.71 per inch for hardwoods.
Although precast concrete has lower R-value than wood, its R-value can be increased by increasing the concrete density.
Winner: It’s a tie between precast concrete and wood!
As can be seen, precast concrete outperforms steel and wood framings in most departments while ranks on par in others. It isn’t a rising contender; it is a genuine heir to the throne of the best construction material in the world.
For further reading: Precast Concrete Systems – The Solution to All Your Energy Code Problems