Tilt-Up vs. Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings

While pre-engineered metal buildings are commonly touted for their speed of construction and low initial cost, concrete tilt-up offers economical and cost-efficient options to building owners seeking investment grade properties. Tilt-up delivers distinct advantages related to durability and energy efficiency, which translates into long-term cost savings for the life of a building.

When evaluating a new building, consider the following.

Tilt-Up Delivers… Advantage
Superior thermal performance It is important to understand the R-value of a finished system—not just the insulation itself—since metal buildings suffer from thermal bridges where wall and roof panels are connected to the structure. With tilt-up, continuous insulation combined with the thermal mass of concrete saves energy and operating dollars.
Bearing and shear walls on perimeter Metal buildings require perimeter columns and steel bracing on the perimeter or interior, consuming valuable interior space and dictating the spacing of exterior openings. Tilt-up wall panels are load-bearing, which eliminates perimeter columns, maximizes usable interior space, and provides greater flexibility for locating exterior openings.
Continuous perimeter foundations Tilt-up concrete walls are supported by continuous perimeter foundations, recognized as an extremely simple, cost-efficient construction process. Metal buildings, with their perimeter columns, need more costly and time-consuming foundations constructed of column pads and anchor bolts.
Reinforced concrete exterior Metal siding typically found on metal buildings is easily damaged, whether on the exterior from weather and vandalism or on the interior from daily operations.  Tilt-up’s concrete walls provide increased durability and security against weather and operations,   minimizing maintenance and prolonging the life of a building.
Combined structure and cladding Where a hard wall is desired, metal buildings provide the exterior structure only and require separate cladding for a completed shell – adding cost to the building shell. With tilt-up construction, the exterior walls perform as both structure and cladding.
Schedule flexibility The schedule for a metal building is dependent on production at steel mills and fabrication plants, and requires that the walls be constructed only after the superstructure is erected.  Tilt-up   projects deliver greater schedule flexibility and faster completion, since tilt-up panels are constructed prior to the superstructure using locally-produced materials, saving as much as four weeks on a 100,000-square-foot building.


  1. Excellent posting! David is “spot”-on (sorry for the pun) with this comment on energy efficiency. Thermally massive buildings can often “flywheel” through peak heating and cooling events with smaller HVAC systems (lower first cost) and lower operating costs. We have seen significant “time shifting” of the peak cooling event of the day, often delaying the peak cooling loads until after 5 PM.

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