Decorative Tilt-Up Panels
Tilt up panels lend themselves to a variety of decorative treatments. First, you need to decide whether to cast the panels with the exposed exterior face up or down. Most panels are cast face down, since the lifting hardware typically must be in the top face and because exposed aggregate faces can interfere with proper anchorage of the hardware. Lifting hardware positioned in the panel's exposed face would have to be patched after lifting and bracing. In some cases, lifting hardware can be installed in the panel end.
Casting panels face up allows the contractor to stamp and color the panels as if they were a decorative floor. This method has been used, although seldom for major projects. For an example of this, check out this featured project: Traditional Methods Reversed in Concrete Tilt-up Project.
The more common technique for texturing a tilt-up panel is to place formliners on the casting slab prior to pouring the panel concrete. Nearly any type of formliner can be used. Various fractured fins, bands, reveals, and even custom shapes can be formed into the panel faces.
Exposed aggregate is another popular finish for tilt-up panels. For more information, visit the exposed aggregate section.
Embedding thin brick to create a brick-faced panel is another commonly used decorative tilt-up technique. Buck Scott at Scott System developed this technique more than 30 years ago, although others have recently moved into the market. Visit TCA for other thin-brick suppliers.
Integral color can also be used with tilt-up panels, but it's expensive to use pigment for the entire panel. Davis Colors offers specifications for integrally coloring tilt up panels. Stains can be used after panels are erected, but the most common coating is paint or textured coatings. Modern textured coatings have a life of 25 to 30 years.
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