Precast Basement Walls vs. Poured

Building a foundation, full basements, or repairing basement walls needs concrete material that will not crumble in a few months. Concrete is strong, durable, and can withstand most weather conditions. The structure made from concrete will act as basement walls or an underground retaining wall; they act as barriers to keep soil away from the framework.

The dilemma is the precast basement walls vs. poured concrete wall foundation type options. The two methods are the primary choice materials in the foundation industry. Both offer stellar results, but the right choice depends on labor costs, speed of installation, material quality, and routine maintenance. 

Table of Contents

Precast Concrete Walls

Overview

The precast method begins with pouring concrete in liquid form onto steel rebar or molds to shape them into the concrete slab or concrete blocks necessary for the project. A manufacturing company transfers mold-shaped concrete to a controlled environment with ideal conditions. The concrete goes through the curing process in this area, which keeps them moist to give it strength and sun/wind resistance.

Afterward, the cured precast products go to the job site, where a wall contractor can begin the construction project for a home owner or company representative. The skilled labor place concrete slabs or cinder blocks into the shapes needed to make the structure. The assembly comes after prepping the land via excavation.

Outdoor weather does not affect precast blocks or slabs. All precast concrete products must pass rigorous testing before it goes to the construction site. 

Advantages

  1. The walls and foundation easily match a new home’s modern design. A structural engineer manufactures and designs the precast concrete foundation and concrete block walls in many shapes, textures, colors, and exterior finishes. 
  2. It costs less to precast than pour. Because the concrete arrives cured, the experts only need to assemble it. The best part about that is it takes less time to install. Mass production aids in driving down costs because the factory can make dozens of the same slab in minutes.
  3. It takes less time to install precast slabs and concrete block foundations than other foundation types.
  4. The walls gain impact resistance from explosions, earthquakes, and heavy winds through vertical reinforcing steel, horizontal steel rods, and polypropylene fibers. 
  5. Precast walls and cinder block foundations provide energy savings. The energy-efficient process incorporates Styrofoam insulation panels to the walls during assembly. The insulation warms the room in winter and cools the room in summer.
Concrete foundation with waterproofing foam insulation for house

Disadvantages

  1. Repeated punishment from the outdoor elements means most finishes and corners on precast concrete block walls diminish or fade. Therefore, the walls require pigmented sealant or primer every few years. The exact time to reapply sealant or primer depends on the type of foundation or precast wall used.
  2. Since the joints on concrete wall systems loosen over time, the walls may require joint sealant too. A loose panel joint is because of the installation process. The walls install as attached individual vertical panels, and an opening allows unwanted air in the area, reducing the energy efficiency benefit.
  3. The walls are unreliable in areas prone to earthquakes or seismic activity. The shaking can cause cracks in concrete foundations. 
  4. It’s costly to make modifications to walls if problems arise later on. All alterations require a complete overhaul of the foundation and walls.

Superior Walls System

A popular type of precast wall is the superior wall system. That is a wall and foundation system comprising precast panels assembled by expert contractors. The Superior Walls products include electrical wiring, built-in plumbing, Styrofoam insulation, and custom cutouts for window openings and door openings.

In one continuous pour, high-quality concrete bonds with bond beams and concrete facing to make it extra sturdy and durable. Helping to make Superior Walls panels extra strong and durable are solid concrete studs and solid insulation. The precast foundation walls are water resistant, blocking the musty odor commonly found in basements.

Meeting United States building codes, Superior Walls takes a day to install. It is a year-round precast wall option that installs well in most weather. When choosing precast concrete foundation walls, Superior Walls is the better choice.

As the Superior Walls foundations arrive, you will choose concrete footing or crushed stone footing to add underneath them. Gravel footing or crushed stone adds the extra benefit of draining water and moisture away from the basement. That stops the foundation and walls from cracking or sinking while keeping the walls dry.

Poured Concrete Walls

Overview

The poured method doesn’t start in a factory and ship to the building area once hardened. Instead, the pouring, molding, curing, and building process happens at the site of a new construction or new house. While the concrete trucks are pouring Portland cement into molds, the concrete contractors are strategizing the construction process and foundation design and adding a vapor barrier and drain tile.

Also called on-site or site-cast, the poured method depends on the weather. It also determines if the molded concrete is ready for assembly. Factory testing for molded concrete happens on-site too, and the weather plays a role. 

A silver lining is cold temperatures. Cold helps speed up the curing process on molded concrete. Like precast, the land requires excavation before construction. The results are custom-made for the project.

Advantages

  1. A poured concrete foundation has better structural stability and integrity than a precast version. That’s because no joints are tearing at the seams. It’s one continuous slab of concrete.
  2. The poured wall wins with fire and water resistance, assuring you of a drier basement and no high water tables. That may be an advantage in flooding and fire-prone areas. It also has lateral strength to protect itself against soil and water pressure.
  3. Being one continuous slab provides natural impact resistance to natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. No rods are necessary. 
  4. The poured method is sound because it has high density and compression. That reduces water in the basement and makes the construction immovable.
  5. The foundation and walls have less maintenance to remember once installed with poured than precast.
Poured basement wall ready for a house

Disadvantages

  1. The weather can be a bad or good thing with concrete wall foundations. Slabs made on-site rely heavily on skilled contractors, the weather, and material quality, which depend on the amount spent by the linear foot and square foot. The poured foundation will not last long if something is amiss.
  2. It is time-consuming and labor intensive to do everything on-site. A weather delay or late product shipment will push the due date to a later one. That slows production and speeds up cost, making pouring more expensive than a precast slab and cinder block wall foundation.
  3. There are horror stories of foundations cracking, caving, or sinking within a year. That’s because the pouring method doesn’t use horizontal and vertical rods or fibers for reinforcement, which is a huge downside. Worse, a cold seam on a chilly day can cause cracks in the wall and weaken its strength.
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