Main image: Photo provided by Bob Moore Construction

Tilt-up construction allows you to integrate the strength and resilience of reinforced concrete with accuracy and efficiency. This enables builders to deliver buildings quickly and economically.

How are tilt-up walls constructed?

Tilt-up walls are created by forming the walls with wooden forms, rebar and concrete horizontally. The concrete is poured into custom-made wooden forms to create reinforced concrete slabs.

How are tilt slabs made?

The forms are shaped to match the final design, along with the rebar being cut to the perfect size. The concrete panels are then tilted into place to compose the building’s exterior walls.

How to connect tilt-up walls

Each wall slab is connected by using bent dowel bars cast into the panel. Some slabs alternatively connect through threaded inserts. They are cast into the panel during concrete settlement. Dowel bars can be set into precast panels.

The difference between tilt-up and precast

Tilt-up concrete panels are poured and cast on the construction site. Then they are lifted into position. On the other hand, precast concrete is fabricated off-site from the construction. The precast concrete is then transported to the construction site after it has been created.

Tilt-up construction explained

Photo credit: Consensus Realty Solutions, Inc

A series of concrete panels are tilted up in place to form a building’s exterior wall. Panels are created on site with the use of wood forms, rebar and concrete, through shaping the forms and cutting the rebar to match the required designs. Thereafter concrete is poured into these forms and finished.

As soon as the walls are set, they are tilted vertically and set on foundational footings to form the external structure. The panels are temporarily braced until the roof ties the whole structure together.

The outsides of the panels are a blank slate on which cladding or veneer can be applied. The interior can also be coated or further insulated.

Is it viable?

Tilt-up construction is a viable alternative to:

  • Labour-intensive wood-frame construction.
  • Costly steel beam construction.
  • Prefabricated steel frame construction with design limitations.
  • Masonry construction.

An inexpensive alternative

Every project is unique, but these broad assumptions can be made:

  • Cost-effective: Tilt-up requires less skilled labour than other methods. Labourers pour and finish the concrete walls, and a crane operator lifts the walls into place. It only takes a handful of workers a few days to erect a building’s walls. Construction materials are much cheaper, and it is easier to find ready-mix concrete and rebar from nearby suppliers.
  • Quick installation: Tilt-up is extremely quick. The concrete panels only take a few days to cure and tilting them into place is much faster and less labour-intensive than other methods. Tilt-up concrete panels are done quickly, thus new structures can be enclosed sooner. Once structures are enclosed, workers, their tools and supplies are out of the elements.
  • Energy efficiency: Reinforced concrete is an excellent insulator on its own, and you can enhance thermal properties by creating walls with extra insulating layers for maximum energy savings.
  • Control: Contractors have more control over tilt-up projects since the panels are quickly assembled on site with locally available materials and labour.
  • Architecturally customisable: Design-build companies use software to design to your exact specifications and remove costly unknowns from the construction process. 5D macro BIM, computer-aided modelling and project estimation software changes’ cost and timeline can be reported in real time as owners select alternatives, empowering them to make the decision reflecting the best balance of a structure’s function and form.
  • Less waste and a lowered negative environmental impact.

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to, and for the information in this editorial.

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