More and more people are discovering the values and benefits related to living in concrete homes. In the business of concrete, residential use was a $52 billion dollar business in 2004, and it will probably be more in 2005. To put this number in perspective, concrete pavement was the second largest market in 2004 at $28 billion and commercial construction at $8 billion. Residential foundations, floors, hardscapes, and above-grade walls accounted for nearly twice the volume of any other concrete market sector. In the next few years, we can expect the residential use of concrete to further outdistance concrete paving. And the mass destruction to property in the hurricane states in 2005 will make more people aware of the need to live in concrete homes.

In response to the increasing interest in concrete home construction, we have worked with the folks at The World of Concrete (Las Vegas, January 16 to 20) to stage two of this year's three Mega Demos on concrete home building systems. Starting at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 18, and Thursday, January 19, here's what you'll see:

  • CMU. Two masonry wall systems will be constructed: a conventional masonry wall and one using random masonry units reinforced with post-tensioning. A new core-insulating foam system will also be demonstrated.
  • ICF. You'll see wall construction using four manufacturers' systems: panel, waffle, and block units. You can see how the different form systems are set and filled with concrete, and wood decking systems (and their attachment to the walls) will be included the second day.
  • Precast. A local precast company will manufacture and transport panels to the demo where they will be lifted and placed. The panels will have different finishes to demonstrate the possibilities.
  • Removable Form. Using precision aluminum forms, three walls and a deck will be formed and filled with self-consolidating concrete (SCC) pumped through the bottom of the forms. The objective is to fill the wall forms until the concrete spills over and self-levels on the deck. The mix will develop 4000-psi compressive strength within 12 hours so that the forms can be removed the following morning. The interior walls will receive a “knockdown” finish, making the walls ready for paint.
  • Tilt-Up. From 2-inch-thick casting beds the walls will be formed and cast on the first day and lifted by crane into position on day two. Formliner patterns and “Brick Snap” finishes will be included.
Joe Nasvik, Senior Editor
Joe Nasvik, Senior Editor

On the second day of the demos, the walls cast on the first day will be used to demonstrate exterior finishes currently in use. These include acrylic finishes, fiber-cement siding, and stucco.

There will also be a demo showing what happens to a reinforced concrete slab when post-tensioning reinforcement is over-tensioned. The Post-Tensioning Institute will also demonstrate how PT should be laid out for a slab-on-grade foundation.

And last, but not least, there will be a demo showing how to place pervious pavement—currently one of the hottest concrete topics. Water can easily pass through pervious pavement and into the subgrade.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about how different wall systems work. I hope I'll see you there—stop by and introduce yourself.

Joe Nasvik
Senior Editor