The majority of concrete building is found in commercial applications, such as malls and individual retail stores. In some locations, residential homes feature concrete exterior walls, designed to enhance security and offer a higher level of resistance to strong winds and storms. While there are benefits to using concrete in building, there are also some considerations and limitations.
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Concrete offers superior protection against storms and criminal activity. A high percentage of new banks use concrete, reinforced with steel, in the construction process, including interior concrete walls. Additionally, concrete construction offers a high level of fire resistance and decreases unwanted noise.
There are two basic methods of using concrete in building. The first is the erection of pre-cast concrete walls that come from the manufacturer with pre-determined window and door openings and conduit already installed for mechanical applications. Many commercial franchises use this type of construction to keep all their stores similar. The second method requires forming the walls individually and pouring them on-site. If a residence requires concrete walls, the latter method is employed, often with Styrofoam forms that later serve as insulation.
Concrete walls offer a low-maintenance method of permanent construction. In commercial applications, concrete is superior to wood framing when the structure must be completed quickly. A wall that takes two weeks to complete with wood framing can be poured in a few hours and cured in two days. Where noise from a busy street is an issue, concrete offers an acoustic buffer for those inside the building.
Before pouring concrete walls, all the mechanical aspects are taken into consideration during the forming process. Doorways, windows, electrical outlets, plumbing and ductwork require placement before the walls are poured. Spend extra time developing the building design, since remodeling a concrete structure is cost prohibitive.
Concrete construction is not recommended for locations where the soil shifts unless a floating foundation is a part of the design. Because even slight movement and settling will result in cracks and fissures, concrete building on this type of soil requires a special foundation or the use of pylons installed deeply in the bedrock beneath the structure.