Precast concrete provides low on-going costs for maintenance, repair and other needs that add material and labor costs. Generally, precast concrete components, even those exposed to weather, require little maintenance. A regular inspection and routine recaulking of cladding panels every 15 to 20 years is all that may typically be required.

Panels can be washed with strong chemicals and cleaners without losing their color, and UV rays will not cause them to fade, as will happen with paint.

Parking structures, more than any other building type, require routine maintenance. The severity of the wear and exposure demands will depend on the structure’s location, environmental conditions and maintenance schedule. Based on national surveys, precast concrete parking structures provide superior resistance to deterioration. Components produced by PCI-certified plants in particular use durable concrete mixes with specialty curing can be created that cannot be achieved in the field.

In general, there are three types of maintenance: housekeeping, for general upkeep; preventive maintenance, with periodic checkups and cleaning of components; and structural repairs, due to spalling, cracking or other wear issues. All of these are minimized with the use of precast concrete components.

Costs Precast Concrete Cast-in-Place Concrete Steel
General conditions Lowest Highest Higher
Structure and enclosure Lowest Highest Higher
Concrete decks and topping Higher lowest NA
Shear walls Higher Highest Lowest
Fireproofing Lowest* Lowest* Highest
Caulking Lowest* Lowest* Highest
TOTAL LOWEST HIGHEST HIGHER

* Costs for fireproofing and caulking are the same for a total precast system and cast-in-place concrete.

Costs
* Savings shown are based on comparisons conducted by a nationally recognized estimating firm using two prototypical office buildings: a four-story, 100,000-square-foot building and an eight-story, 200,000-square-foot building. Both were constructed with a total precast building system and each offered a footprint of 113’ x 227’. These buildings were compared to similar prototypes constructed with steel or cast-in-place frames and brick veneer or precast enclosures. Charts courtesy High Concrete Group LLC, Denver, Pa.
Inset-Brick Precast Panels Vs. CMU With Brick
Examples of recent school projects in the Southeast show how precast panels compare to typical brick construction. Names and locations have been deleted.
School Type Precast Design Masonry Design Typical Precast Advantage
Elementary school with 47,080 sq. ft. of exterior wall area 2,942 lin. ft. of precast panels with inset brick 8» CMU with brick saves $.40 to $.50 per sq. ft., 2 months faster enclosure 5,000-psi durability
Elementary school with 6,600 lin. ft. of interior wall area Interior nonload and load-bearing insulated panels Concrete Block (-$.35 to -$.40) per sq. ft. 4 months faster enclosure 5,000-psi durability R-10 insulation included
Middle school with 57,760 sq. ft. of exterior wall area Insulated sandwich wall panel with inlaid brick 8» CMU with brick saves $.35 to $.40 per sq. ft. 4 months faster enclosure 5,000-psi durability R-10 insulation included
Middle school with 6,700 lin. ft. of interior wall area Interior nonload and load-bearing insulated panels Concrete Block (-$.20 to -$.25) per sq. ft. 4 months faster enclosure 5,000-psi durability R-10 insulation
Source: Institutional Resources LLC, 2003