Precast concrete has been around for years, offering an affordable way to create durable concrete panels and structures for architectural needs. GFRC is a newer product in the construction industry that provides an alternative method for prefabricating concrete. Both types of concrete are manufactured off site and shipped to your job, but GFRC offers several benefits over precast.
How Are Prefabricated Concretes Made?
The process for making precast concrete is to pour standard concrete – a mixture of sand, water, Portland cement, and a stone aggregate – into molds. The cement cures over a few days, the molds are removed, and the concrete panels are shipped to the job site.
GFRC mixes cement with fiberglass and acrylic polymer. Like the precast, it too is poured into molds and allowed to cure, usually for about 24 hours. It is then shipped to the client where it is installed on the project.
Both GFRC and precast yield a concrete product that withstands the elements when used outdoors. They are affordable options relative to pouring concrete directly on site. GFRC can be used for any ornamentation or design need, facade, cladding, and more. Only for load bearing concrete panels is precast the better option.
Advantages of GFRC Over Precast
The composition of GFRC, using fiberglass to fill and strengthen the concrete, means it is useful in many situations. It provides cost savings at both the manufacturing and installation stages, and brings a higher quality that ensures the panels lasts. When compared to precast, GFRC is:
- More Durable – GFRC is somewhat flexible and has a high impact strength. This reduces the chances of it cracking or breaking during installation or use.
- Stronger – The level of strength that glass fibers give GFRC would require steel reinforcement in traditional concrete. GFRC needs no additional reinforcement.
- Lighter Weight – GFRC can be made at half the width of precast since it doesn’t need space for steel reinforcement. The mixture also uses significantly less sand and no stone. This results in a panel of GFRC weighing about a third of a panel of precast with similar dimensions.
- Easier to Install – The light weight enables GFRC to be installed with less manpower and heavy equipment, making the installation faster and cheaper.
- Faster to Produce – Since GFRC needs only one day to cure as opposed to several, less lead time is needed to manufacture GFRC panels. This is especially important for extensive projects.
The design possibilities of GFRC are also nearly limitless. Most precast is limited to structural panels as more intricate designs . GFRC can imitate stone and marble. It works for column covers, domes, recessed ceilings, and historical elements that would typically have been made from plaster. With GFRC, architects can create endless unique looks, all at the affordable cost of prefab concrete.
GC Products manufactures GFRC architectural elements to meet any design. Our products are made from 100% recycled materials and are the highest quality available. We have worked on thousands of projects over the years, making everything from simple GFRC panels to complex aesthetic features. To see how GFRC can work for your next project, contact us to learn more.