How to Install Precast Concrete Panels

What You'll Need
Precast Concrete Panels
Building Plans

The use of precast concrete panels makes building much easier as they are useful for many different applications. They can be used as the outside of a home, or for walls inside the home. Most commonly found in commercial applications, precast concrete panels are also very popular among modern home builders. Working with precast concrete slabs is a very involved process that is most generally done by a licensed contractor. However, if you have the need for erecting a precast concrete panel in your home, or outbuilding, here are some of the steps to take.

Step 1: Plan Ahead

Working with the precast concrete panels is not like working with plywood or other building materials. They are bulky and very heavy. This means that you will need to have the assembled materials in place before you go trying to lift these heavy panels into place. Plan for how many panels you will need, and have them ready for when a crane can be available. You will also have to determine the different elements like windows, doors, and interior walls.

Step 2: Get Required Permits

Since building a new building requires a lot of special permits, the use of precast concrete panels is no different. Go to the local town office and make sure that you have all of the required permits that are needed for your particular building project. These permits will also let you know the specific building codes for the height of the gravel base, the minimum thickness of the panels, and who can safely operate the crane.

Step 3: Build Gravel Base for Panels

For the precast concrete panels you will need to build a gravel base for the panels to rest on. This base should be a minimum of 12 inches, but this can differ according to your building codes. This gravel can rest upon the trench floor without any concrete footing.

Step 4: Set First Panel

Once the gravel base is built and level, you will need to bring the crane into position to lift the panel off the truck and position it to start the wall. Place the precast concrete panel on a corner of a wall so that you have a definite starting point. Use 2x4 bracing on both sides of the panel to support it until the next panels are attached.

Step 5: Set Second Panel

Use the crane again and immediately set a second panel into position. This should be at a right angle to the first so that the braces can be removed and the wall will have a stable starting point. Line up the holes in the panel and press them together.

Step 6: Seal Concrete Panels

Once you have set a few concrete panels into position along your wall, it is a good idea to take the time to seal them with a waterproof sealer. This sealer will come in a tube that can be easily spread onto the panels with a caulking gun. Once on the panel, a thin spreader can be used to smooth it along the surface.

Step 7: Continue Setting Panels

After you have a few panels set, and sealed, you can continue to erect the different panels. Take your time and make sure that they form a tight seal.