Precast and Cast-in-Place Concrete

Concrete is an essential part of the construction process. Knowing what type of concrete fits your specific needs is crucial to the successful execution of a construction project as per plan

Therefore, it’s important to understand the difference between the two primary types of concrete: pre-cast and cast-in-place. There are pros and cons attached to the use of each one, which you should consider when planning a construction project.

This article will discuss the difference between pre-cast and cast-in-place concrete, highlighting each type’s advantages and disadvantages.

What is Pre-Cast Concrete?

Pre-cast concrete is prefabricated, ready-to-use concrete prepared off-site (typically by professional concrete services) in a controlled environment. It’s intended to decrease the time and manual labor required in preparing concrete at the construction site.

It’s primarily used in structural components such as floors, tunnels, pipes, staircases, etc.

What is Cast-in-Place Concrete?

Cast-in-place concrete is unhardened concrete prepared at the construction site. Everything from pouring, and molding, to the curation process is handled by workers present on-site without using any concrete services. It’s primarily used for foundations, concrete slabs, beams, columns, roofs, walls, etc.

Advantages of Pre-Cast Concrete

Decreases Construction Time

Pre-cast concrete arrives at the construction site prepared by concrete services, reducing the time the construction team would have spent preparing it from scratch.

Better quality controls

Pre-cast concrete is prepared in a controlled environment off-site. Concrete services preparing it have more time to run quality checks and advanced tools to inspect for defects.

Typical on-site issues related to temperature and humidity during concrete preparation also vanish with pre-cast concrete.

Reduced cost for bigger projects

Purchasing pre-made concrete in bulk can reduce material costs. For larger projects requiring a large amount of concrete, buyers can negotiate lower prices by purchasing higher volumes.

Strength & Durability

Pre-cast concrete has steel rebars inside, increasing its strength and durability. It’s also typically stronger than cast-in-place concrete due to better quality controls.

Disadvantages of Pre-Cast Concrete

Higher initial investment

Generally, the initial capital required to purchase pre-cast concrete is higher than cast-in-place concrete.

Transportation costs

Pre-cast concrete requires heavy transportation, such as cranes, to transport it to the construction site, often at very long distances.

Complexity in post-customization

Because pre-cast concrete is already prepared, it’s a hassle to dismantle or modify it if such requirements arise. You can’t use it for two-structural systems, either.

Advantages of Cast-in-Place Concrete

Better insulation

Cast-in-place concrete is harder to penetrate and better insulated from elements such as sound or mold. It can also withstand cold temperatures and moisture, which erodes the concrete’s quality.


The on-site construction can customize the concrete according to their requirements.

Two-way structural system support

Cast-in-place concrete can support two-way structural systems.

Suited to smaller projects

Cast-in-place is more cost-effective and helps avoid high-initial investment requirements.

Disadvantages of Cast-in-Place Concrete

More labour and time are required.

Because the concrete must be prepared on-site and no outside help, such as professional concrete services, is required, there will be a greater burden of labor for the concrete’s preparation.

More time is required to implement strength tests and concrete curing processes.

Quality control

Preparing the concrete in an uncontrolled environment opens the doors for quality control issues. Unfavorable weather conditions, especially humidity, can erode the concrete’s quality.

Should you go for Pre-Made or Cast-in-Place concrete?

Choosing between pre-cast and cast-in-place concrete is a matter of assessing internal requirements. Remember, knowing the difference is just the first step. Using the right type can make all the difference in planning and execution.

If you decide to go for ready-to-use concrete, we can help. MQR Precast provides concrete services in Calgary, including high-quality, ready mix concrete that can be cast in place, and precast options as well. Reach out today to leverage our 40 years’ worth of experience!

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