Concrete Thinking Think Concrete
Applications  > Tilt-Up Construction
Fast and versatile tilt-up walls
Print   eMail

Tilt-up construction is ready-mixed concrete placed in horizontal forms at the construction site and then tilted up to form walls. Panels are cast as near to the final position as possible. The most convenient casting base is most often the concrete floor slab of the building. Wood or steel edge forms are prepared and positioned on the casting base. Reinforcing steel, vapor seal, insulation, door and window frames, electrical conduit, and outlet boxes are then positioned. Wall panels are cast on the horizontal base, cured, and then tilted into a vertical position and moved into place with a crane.

This method of construction was developed in the early 1900’s but became popular after World War II as a means of providing a quick and efficient method of meeting the demand for buildings despite shortages of labor and materials.



tilt up concrete construction
Wardour Office Center, Bedford, Nova Scotia (PCA No. 14529
Tilt-up construction is most frequently used for one-story commercial buildings such as warehouses, office buildings, or big box stores. However, two, three, and four-story buildings are becoming more commonplace. Condominiums and hotels as tall as ten stories have been constructed with tilt-up concrete. This method of construction is well suited for warehouse, shopping centers, or big box stores because contractors can form the windowless unarticulated wall panels quickly and economically. Tilt-up can also be used for buildings with windows and other architectural features.


Tilt-up concrete is economically viable for building individually designed reinforced concrete structures. Ready-mixed concrete for tilt-up is locally available.

Tilt-up concrete lends itself to mass production. At the same time, panel lengths and heights can be easily modified and adapted. Tilt-up concrete can also be colored, textured, and shaped to meet almost any architectural demand using techniques such as form liners, pigments, brick facing, curved surfaces, and exposed aggregates.



Incorporating windows in tilt-up construction (PCA No. 54903)
Incorporating windows in tilt-up construction (PCA No. 54903)
Tilt-up concrete has many environmental benefits during construction and for the life of the structure. For more detail see the sustainability solutions pages listed to the right.

During construction:

Recycled content. Recycled materials such as fly ash, slag cement, silica fume, and recycled aggregates can be incorporated into concrete, thereby diverting materials from the landfill and reducing the use of virgin materials. Can apply to LEED Credit M 4.

Local. Wall panels are constructed with locally available labor and materials. Can apply to LEED Credit M 5.

Resource Efficient. Material efficiencies result from repetitive use of forms. Steel forms and other materials are reused.

During the life of the structure:

Energy Performance. Energy savings are achieved in buildings by combining the thermal mass of concrete with the optimal amount of insulation in tilt-up walls. Concrete acts as an air barrier, reducing air infiltration, and saving more energy. Can contribute to LEED Credit EA 1.

Durable. Tilt-up concrete structures are resistant to fires, wind, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wind-driven rain, and moisture damage.

Cool. Light and natural-colored concrete reduces heat islands.

IAQ. Concrete has low VOC emittance and does not degrade indoor air quality

Recyclable. Tilt-up concrete structures in urban areas are recycled into fill and road base material at the end of their useful life.


Crane lifting tilt up panel
Crane lifting wall panels in place during tilt-up construction (PCA No. 50181)
Builders set steel reinforcing and pour the concrete walls in a horizontal position at the building site. Workers then lift and tilt the walls, which average about 5 to 6 inches thick, into place with a crane. No additional interior or exterior finish materials are required.

 Show Detail
Located at Bookstore2005 ASHRAE Handbook - Fundamentals (2005)
The 2005 volume of the ASHRAE Handbook covers basic principles and provides essential data for HVAC&R design. In all, the Fundamentals volume includes more than 1,000 pages and 40 chapters on a variety of HVAC&R topics, covering general engineering information, basic materials, load and energy calculations and duct and pipe design. Available for $155
Located at BookstoreConcrete: Sustainability and Life Cycle (2007)
Portland Cement Association. Item Code: SN3011
Available for download for free This report presents the results of the LCI of three concrete products: ready mixed concrete, concrete masonry, and precast concrete.
Located at BookstoreDesign and Control of Concrete Mixtures, 14th Edition (2002)
S.H. Kosmatka, B. Kerkhoff, and W.C. Panarese, Portland Cement Association, Item Code EB001, 372 pages
Available for $80 Definitive reference on concrete technology covers fundamentals and detailed information on freshly mixed and hardened concrete. Extensively updated and expanded, this new edition discusses materials for concrete, such as portland cements, supplementary cementing materials, aggregates, admixtures and fibers; air entrainment; procedures for mix proportioning, batching, mixing, transporting, handling, placing, consolidating, finishing, and curing concrete; precautions necessary during hot- and cold-weather concreting; causes and methods of controlling volume changes; commonly used control tests for quality concrete; special types of concrete, such as high-performance, lightweight, heavyweight, no-slump, roller-compacted, shotcrete, mass concrete and many more. Applicable ASTM, AASHTO, and ACI standards are referred to extensively.
Located at BookstoreLEED Rating and Tilt-Up (2006)
Kramer, Kimberly W., Concrete International, Vol 28:5
Available for free for subscribers, $20 for nonmembers. To meet LEED requirements, practitioners must design and specify systems with attributes listed as desirable by the USGBC. Tilt-up concrete walls can help contribute LEED points in several categories through their durability, ease of recycling, ability to help moderate temperature swings, recycled materials content, and use of local materials. A brief introduction to these categories is provided in this article.
Located at BookstoreSound Transmission Loss Through Concrete and Concrete Masonry Wall (1978)
Albert Litvin and Harold W. Belliston, Portland Cement Association, Item Code RD066
Many building codes require minimum sound transmission loss values, expressed as sound transmission class (STC), of 45 to 50. Tests of sound transmission loss were made on 8-in.-thick (203-mm) concrete masonry walls and on 6- and 8-in.-thick (152- and 203-mm) cast concrete walls finished with materials intended to increase sound transmission loss. Using furring, acoustic insulation, and wallboard attachments, STC values up to 59 and 63 were obtained for the masonry and cast concrete walls, respectively. Selected STC values, reported by other investigators, for a variety of walls are included for reference.
Located at BookstoreStandard 90.1-2001 - Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings (2001)
ASHRAE. ISBN/ISSN: 1041-2336
Available for $88 member, $110 non-member. Incorporates 34 new addenda covering a wide range of topics, as well as editorial changes and updates to the body of the standard. The new addenda contain information on minimum energy efficiency standards, building envelope requirements, zone isolation, floor, ceiling and roof insulation, and power allowance calculation.
Located at BookstoreSupplementary Cementing Materials for Use in Blended Cements (1996)
Portland Cement Association. Item Code: RD112
Available for $40. Provides information on using fly ash, slag, silica fume and natural pozzolans in the manufacturing of blended cements and the effects of these materials on cement and concrete. This report is also found on CD019 and DVD019.
Located at BookstoreSupplementary Cementing Materials For Use in Concrete (2002)
Michael Thomas and Michelle L. Wilson. Portland Cement Association. Item Code: CD038
Available for $35. The first of a series of interactive distance learning programs specifically designed for training individuals on cement and concrete technology. This fully-narrated CD provides an intense self-contained course on supplementary cementing materials (SCMs) and their impact on the durability, workability, economy, and sustainability of concrete.
Located at BookstoreThe Architecture of Tilt-Up (2005)
Tilt-Up Concrete Association
Available for $95 member, $145 non-member. The manual is the second part of a trilogy of resources on the design and construction of site cast Tilt-Up construction. A general overview of the construction process is provided, as well as information to help designers capitalize on the economy and efficiency the construction medium offers while also serving as a solution for complex design vernaculars. The manual concludes with appendices that provide guidelines specifications, common detailing solutions and theories, as well as a directory of the most current product suppliers.
Located at BookstoreThermal Mass Comparison of Wall Systems (2001)
Portland Cement Association. Item Code: CD026
Available for $35. This 49-page report provides the thermal performance of eleven different structural wall systems: concrete masonry, insulated cast-in-place, insulated concrete forms, and AAC as well as wood and steel frame. The results illustrate the benefits of thermal mass, depending on climatic conditions for most of North America.
Located at BookstoreTilt-Up Construction and Engineering Manual, Sixth Edition (2004)
Tilt-Up Concrete Association
Available for $145. A comprehensive manual dealing with all aspects of tilt-up construction. Includes information about practices and compliance with ACI 318-03 and IBC 2003, comprehensive insulation systems discussion, revised and expanded section on details and connections, expanded information on unique project applications, and updated easy-to-use supplier and product section.
Download DocumentAssessing the Condition and Repair Alternatives of Fire-Exposed Concrete and Masonry Members (1994)
PCA #SR322, 15 pages
Available for free. This guide provides information on assessing the severity of a fire, determining the fire's effects on the load-carrying capacity of fire-exposed members, and repair options.
Download DocumentModeling Energy Performance of Concrete Buildings for LEED-NC v2.1 EA Credit 1 (2005)
Marceau, Medgar L. and Martha G. VanGeem, Portland Cement Association. Item Code: SN2880, 54 pages
This project provides in-depth information on energy savings in mid-rise buildings due to additional thermal mass and for exceeding building envelope thermal performance requirements.
Download DocumentSlag Cement LEED NC 2.1 Guide (2005)
Slag Cement Association
Available for free. This 17-page publication discusses how slag cement can help contribute to achieving 9 different points toward for LEED™-NC certification.
Download DocumentSustainable Manufacturing Fact Sheet: Tire Derived Fuel (2005)
Portland Cement Association. Item Code: IS325
Available for free. By utilizing a cement kiln's controlled combustion environment, scrap tires can be an environmentally-sound source of energy in the manufacture of cement. This fact sheet shows how the popularity of tire-derived fuel has increased over the past two decades and summarizes its environmental benefits.
Download DocumentThe Art of Concrete (2001)
Portland Cement Association. Item Code: PL721
Available for free. White and colored concrete made with white cement have numerous applications, from cast-in-place to precast to tilt-up. This attractive brochure highlights the benefits of this versatile material, which can be used for decorative and structural purposes.
Download DocumentWhat's Your IAQ I.Q.? (1999)
Environmental Council of Concrete Organizations, #2846
Architects, engineers, and builders are becoming more proactive in assuring the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) of the buildings for which they are responsible. Concrete is the best building material for forestalling sick building syndrome. Concrete also reduces the outgassing of indoor air pollutants. Because concrete structures are more energy efficient, they lower emissions form furnaces. This document is available for free from Environmental Council of Concrete Organizations. To find this article: Follow the link provided, then click "catalog" and scroll half way down the page to find the article.
Located at External Web SiteAmerican Coal Ash Association (2006)
A website dealing with the use of coal ash in concrete products.
Located at External Web SiteConcrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (2006)
An industry resource website
Located at External Web SiteSilica Fume Association (2006)
An industry association website.
Located at External Web SiteSlag Cement Association (2006)
An industry resource website dealing with slag cement.
Located at External Web SiteTilt-Up Concrete Association (2007)
The Tilt- Up Concrete industry website houses information on design, construction, training programs, events and additional links for more resources.