Tilt-Up Advantages

Reasons you should be evaluating Tilt-Up concrete wall construction for your next commercial project.

1. Tilt-up concrete construction saves time.

  • The exterior walls are made from readily available local material like ready-mix concrete, conventional reinforcing steel and framing lumber. Therefore, framing for wall construction can begin as soon as the sight is cleared and the floor slab poured.
  • The walls are ready and erected when the steel for the roof assembly arrives at the site, allowing a shortened construction sequence.
  • Panels may be lifted into place only a few days after casting.
  • Because the wall panels are fabricated on the floor slab and erected from the floor slab, poor weather conditions have less effect on the construction sequence then other construction systems.
  • High wall heights do not slow down the construction when compared to exterior wall systems which require scaffolding or in-place forming.

2. Tilt-up concrete construction saves money.

  • Shorter construction periods lead to lower construction costs and less construction loan interest.
  • This is important to clients generally looking at onebuilding.
  • Concrete wall panels cost less per square foot then masonry and other durable exterior wall materials.
  • Load-bearing tilt-up perimeter walls generally eliminate the need for exterior columns and beams thereby reducing steel costs.
  • Concrete tilt-up wall panels provide exceptionally good shear walls, reducing the requirements for bracing normally necessary to resist wind and seismic forces.
  • The natural fire resistance of concrete eliminates fire rated lintels over openings for doors and windows.
  • A wide range of exterior textures, stains, paints and finishes may be used, creating dramatic architectural features at greatly reduced costs.

3. Tilt-up concrete construction allows distribution spaces to have thin exterior walls.

  • The incredibly thin walls (as thin as 5 1/2″ for heights below 25′ and 7 1/4″ for up to 30′ clear height buildings) of tilt-up provide an attractive ratio of usable to rentable floor area.
  • Walls are generally continuous thickness throughout, rarely requiring the pilasters or piers associated with masonry construction.
  • Due to the elimination of exterior columns, usable office and warehouse space is increased.

4. Tilt wall concrete panels are compatible with any structural grid.

  • Because Tilt-up panels provide a continuous load-bearing perimeter for the building, interior column placement is much less critical, eliminating the frequent conflicts between columns and window placement associated with other forms of construction.
  • Exterior bearing panels provide an excellent support system for girders, joists, beams, and floor or roof decks.

5. Tilt-up construction provides architectural flexibility and advantages.

  • Tilt-up construction has been used for over 100 years, yet, is still viewed as a modern, “ state-of-the-art” construction method.
  • Tilt-up is easily maintained, looking like new for much longer than other construction materials.
  • Dramatic features like ornate reveal patterns, simulated or cast in exterior finishes and striking color effects may be used at a fraction of the cost generally associated with such high level appearances.
  • Because concrete is a moldable, wet cast product, the shape and architectural aesthetics of the structure is very versatile, allowing the imagination to run wild.

6. Tilt-up wall panels provide a high degree of fire rating.

  • Concrete wall panels of only 7 1/4″ thick provide a three hour fire rating without needing additional materials or coatings.
  • Reinforcing steel in the areas over windows and doors are naturally fire rated lintels which don’t require additional protection.

7. Tilt-up wall panels provide a high degree of security.

  • Unlike sheathing and studs or masonry, reinforced concrete panels are resistant to break-ins from all but the most sophisticated construction equipment and tools.
  • High degrees of fire resistance and strength provide an increased level of security without additional costs.

8. Tilt-up construction offers many foundation advantages.

  • Tilt-up wall panels are compatible with numerous foundation systems and well suited for sites with difficult bearing problems.
  • Tilt-up wall panels act essentially like deep structural beams which can bear on and distribute loads over virtually any type of footing or foundation.
  • Concrete panels can span from isolated footing to isolated footing making them ideally suited for use on caissons, pilings, drilled piers or other special foundation systems which are appropriate and required for less than ideal soil conditions.

9. Tilt-up wall panels allow for higher building clear heights without significant cost considerations.

  • Because all work performed during the construction of the panels is done on the ground, the ultimate height of the panel does not create significant difficulty during the fabrication process.
  • Exterior painting treatments may be performed with the use of bucket trucks which can easily work to 30′ or 40′ heights.
  • Dramatic increases in interior clear heights may be obtained with only slight increases in the wall thickness thereby maintaining the cost, speed and time benefits of tilt-up construction.

10. Tilt-up wall panels have long life cycle savings.

  • oncrete panels are much less susceptible to damage from moisture penetration and spalling than most other wall systems.
  • The majority of the panels are coated with paints and other finishes that can easily be repaired or re-coated over time to completely change or renew the appearance of the building.
  • Additional windows and doors can be created or eliminated and the panels repainted without the appearance of a patch.
  • Concrete actually strengthens with age, as opposed to most materials which eventually deteriorate and crack, creating ugly maintenance nightmares.

Almost convinced? Need more information or have questions?

Please contact Glen Stephens at Phone 1-888-4-TILT-UP (1-888-484-5887)or

Fax 301-513-0155 or E-mail glen@designtolast.com and we will be delighted to respond to your inquiry.

Tilt-Up FAQ’s

Frequently Asked Questions About Tilt-Up Concrete Construction

1. What is tilt-up concrete constructions?

  • Tilt-up or Tilt-wall is a concrete exterior wall system using site cast concrete slabs for the exterior walls, both bearing and non-bearing.
  • Site casting, using the building floor slab as the casting bed, allows very large, single piece wall panels to be produced. These are significantly larger than could be plant cast and shipped to the site over local highways with standard trucks.

2. What are the cost advantages of tilt-up?

  • Shorter construction period.
  • Low per square foot wall cost.
  • High fire resistance ratings of reinforced concrete.
  • The building weather envelope and perimeter structure are from a single system.
  • Excellent life cycle cost.
  • Majority of labor to make the panels is performed on the ground. Therefore, increased clear height does not dramatically increase construction costs.
  • Concrete’s high fire resistance allows large openings without additional measures to protect structural members or lintels.
  • Tilt-up construction makes it easy to add future additions and modifications that match or appear to be part of the original construction.
  • Panels are cast in place and moved only once to the final wall location, resulting in low handling costs.

3. What are the scheduling advantages of tilt-up?

  • Tilt-up panels are produced on site from readily available, common construction materials.
  • All wall panels are fabricated on the site.
  • Wall panel construction can commence as soon as enough floorslab is in place to start form work.
  • All panels are generally formed and poured completely before erection. Therefore, erection can proceed in an uninterrupted continuous process, right through installation of the roof structure.
  • The walls are erected and in place ready to accept the roof structural system when it arrives on the construction site.

4. Why are the panels cast face down?

  • Cost saving by reducing the amount of reinforcing steel (midpanel lifting points reduce stresses during the erection process).
  • Eliminate exterior wall patching (lifting points).
  • Provide safer lifting with smaller, economical, rubber tired ‘truck’ cranes.
  • The items can be placed on the casting surface to create designs, patterns and architectural details.

5. Why does the crane sit on the floor slab?

  • Using the floor slab provides a stable and safe base for the crane.
  • Using the floor slab allows the use of smaller, economical rubber tired cranes.
  • Using the floor results in a safe erection process avoiding the “suicide,” exterior lifts.
  • Working from the slab allows construction close to property lines.
  • Working from the slab reduces the impact of wet conditions and other poor soil conditions.

6. Won’t the crane damage the floor?

  • A properly designed and installed floor will handle a crane that is appropri- ated sized and moved correctly on the floor. The crane must not extend the boom too far when picking up panels.
  • The crane will ‘uncover’ inadequate floor areas allowing them t be replaced prior to occupancy.
  • New crane mobility techniques further the potential for floor damage.

7. What exterior finishes are available?

Tilt wall panels are an extremely flexible design material. Exterior treat ments are only limited by imagination. Several popular options follow:

  • Coated or painted with or without texture
  • Exposed aggregate
  • Sand blasted
  • Concrete staining
  • Laminations or inlayes of marble, granite, tile or stone
  • Full or partial masonry veneers
  • Glass
  • Form lining materials are available to produce a variety of effects, textures and appearances

8. What roof systems are compatible?

  • Steel beam and bar joists with either metal or plywood deck are the most common
  • All types, including: wood trusses with asphalt shingles, or pre-engineered metal panels

9. What types of building uses are appropriate for tilt-up concrete?

  • The market share of tilt-up buildings continues to grow in the one story industrial and distribution market.
  • Low rise office, and research & development
  • Commercial strip centers
  • More and more big box retailers are choosing tilt-up’s speed and cost savings
  • Mini storage buildings
  • Churches and Motels

10. Can I build 2nd floor or mezzanine space internally?

  • Tilt-up wall bearing’s structural capacity easily accommodates 2nd floor or mezza nine, either initially or pre-planned for future construction.
  • 2nd floor and mezzanine floors can also be easily and affordably added to those buildings not pre-planned to accommodate them.

11. What size buildings are feasible?

  • Any size building can be built with this exterior wall system
  • Generally buildings from 20,000 square feet and larger will benefit the most from the cost saving aspects of tilt-up
  • Small buildings can use stack casting, casting beds or concrete parking surfaces for casting pads.

12. What types of foundation systems are required for these panels?

  • The panels are structural elements, these deep beams can span their full width, which makes them very adaptable to most foundation systems.
  • Which ever type of foundation is indicated by soil conditions and local con struction techniques can be used.
  • Tilt wall panels can be erected on:
    – continuous footings, or spread footings

    – pilings

    – drilled footings, piers or casions

13. How long will the exterior paint last?

  • Generally the architectural coating consists of a textured basecoat and a color coat. Only the color coat is renewed over time.
  • Colors can be changed whenever desired, but should last 7 to 12 years if properly applied over a clean prepared panel surface.

14. Can you make changes to the building after all the walls are concrete?

  • New or enlarged openings for windows, doors or other openings can be cut into the panels with conventional concrete cutting equipment.
  • Abandoned windows or door openings can be filled with masonry then parged to produce a smooth surface to match the adjacent concrete panels.

15. How does concrete tilt-up effect design fees from architects and structural engineers?

  • Since each individual wall panel needs to be designed, engineered and reviewed during the shop drawing process, fees will be somewhat higher than masonry or pre-engineered building design fees to cover the additional time involved.

16. How do the walls perform from a thermal perspective?

  • Tilt-up construction produces energy efficient buildings
  • The roof is the main area of heat loss and gain on a one or two story building, not the wall areas.
  • The mass of the solid reinforced concrete provides a thermal heat transfer resistance similar to adobe.
  • Office areas and other spaces with higher levels of heat and air conditioning will normally have drywall and metal studs along the exterior walls. These can be insulated with economical fiberglass, foam or cellulose insulation.
  • If desired, the interior surfaces of warehouse walls can be insulated with vinyl faced fiberglass insulation applied to stick-clips bonded to the inside face of the exterior walls.
  • Hard (durable) surface options are available for interior insulation of the panels.
  • Did we answer your questions? If not Just call or contact Glen Stephens at Ph. 1.888.4-TILT-UP or Fax 301.513.0155 or E-mail glen@designtolast.com and we will be pleased to respond to your inquiry.