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Decorative Concrete Specifier – Benefits Overview

Derbyshire Specialist Aggregates has a long established relationship with the construction industry and the many innovative applications that have advanced the usage and methods that concrete is now specified. Concrete has been used, in some form, since Roman times and it is the most universal construction material around today.

Specifing concrete

Concrete is no longer plain, grey and boring, it is now thought of as a beautiful decorative element of a construction project.

Today’s homeowners, builders, and designers recognize the value in using concrete in their designs and plans.

The advancements in concrete tools, concrete stains and dyes, textures, and patterns have made concrete a versatile, durable and cost-effective material.

WHY Precast Concete?

Architectural precast concrete panels have been produced off-site for many decades and are increasingly being specified to clad a wide range of new buildings including commercial and civic office schemes, residential, retail and leisure developments as well as hospitals and schools. Despite this trend, there are many building projects that fail to benefit because the advantages of precast cladding construction are not fully considered at an early enough stage.

The direct and incidental advantages of precast cladding construction are many and varied. Importantly, they valuably contribute to enhancing quality and safety, to improving effeciency and productivity and to providing programme and price certainty.


The Benefits include:
  • Precast Concrete is SAFE. Everybody knows that concrete does not burn! Not only is the structural stability maintained for longer periods, but concrete construction prevents the spread of the fire from one building to another. It is sufficiently strong to resist impacts, blasts and natural catastrophies like earthquakes, tornadoes and floods.
  • Precast Concrete is VERSATILE. Factory production allows a wide choice of surface finishing, colour range and special shapes. Precast concrete has another advantage; its mouldability which entails designers to copy classical details like keystones and capitals or match the finish of materials like weathered stones. The precast concrete industry can source a wide range of aggregates locally and offer a tremendous variety of colours and visual effects.
  • Precast Concrete is OPTIMISED. Advanced technologies used in the precasting plants create an improved quality product (i.e. reduced  tolerances, thinner sections, engineered solutions) compared with cast-on-site concrete. Additionally this quality can be checked before a unit is inserted into the structure or site work!
  • Precast Concrete is DURABLE. Concrete lasts for years. Egyptian and Chinese people used an ancient form of concrete for buildings and structures that still exist today. Concrete is used where the structural stability has to be maintained for long periods. Effective design detailing helps to lengthen the life of a concrete building; precast manufacturers can offer guidance on designing for durability.
  • Precast Concrete is ECOLOGICAL. Made of natural raw materials (stones, gravels, sand cement), locally available almost everywhere and in an enormous quantity, precast concrete minimises the whole life cycle impact on the environment when compared with other construction materials. Precast concrete units can entirely be re-used or recycled (almost 100% of a concrete building can be recycled, no matter how heavily reinforced).
  • Precast Concrete is FAST. The top floor of a skyscraper can be cast in the factory when the foundations have yet to be started. But the project requirements of a modern construction prefer a just-in-time delivery! On-site construction using precast concrete is not only faster, but also safer as secure working platforms are quickly established.
  • Precast Concrete is AFFORDABLE. Precast concrete combines the excellent quality of factory production with a relatively inexpensive material. The costs to repair and maintain concrete structures are highly limited. There is therefore no need to compromise on quality to reduce costs, simply choose the best way to use locally available resources.

Compared to site-cast concrete, precast does have lots of advantages:

  • Since precast is manufactured in a controlled casting environment it is easier to control the mix, placement, and curing.
  • Quality can be controlled and monitored much more easily.
  • Since a precaster can buy materials for multiple projects, quantity discounts can lower costs.
  • Weather is eliminated as a factor, you can cast in any weather and get the same results, which allows you to perfect mixes and methods.
  • Less labour is required and that labour can be less skilled.
  • On site, precast can be installed immediately, there is no waiting for it to gain strength and the modularity of precast products makes installation go quickly.
  • It’s easy to make many copies of the same precast product; by maximising repetition, you can get plenty of value from a mold and a set-up.
  • Accelerated curing, by heating the precast parts, greatly increases strength gain, reducing the time between casting the part and putting it into service.
  • With the ability to so tightly control the process, from materials to consolidation to curing, you can get extremely durable concrete.

Precast concrete products

3 main categories of products can be identified, following their intended use;

1. Building products

  • Bricks and blocks
  • Floor and roofing elements
  • Facade and wall elements
  • Beams and columns
  • Structural elements
  • Structural openings
  • Other building products

2. Civil engineering

  • Street products
  • Paving units
  • Slabs and flags
  • Kerbs
  • Other linear street elements
  • Noise barriers
  • Ancillaries
  • Infrasructure products
  • Pipes
  • Manholes
  • Channels
  • Culverts
  • Cable pits
  • Shouldering walls and bank protection
  • Ancillaries

3. Products for specific applications

  • Garden products
  • Fences
  • Banisters and bollards
  • Furniture
  • Tanks and vessels
  • Water treatment elements
  • Agricultural elements
  • Slabs for industrial flooring
  • Monolithic modules
  • Garages
  • Cellars
  • Masts and poles.



Precast Concrete Construction








Wembly Stadium

St Barts Hospital

Galway Clinic

Bridgewater Place

Clarence Dock Leeds