Commercial concrete is used to develop and enhance business facilities – from industrial buildings and warehouses to retail stores and car parks. It can be found in almost every structure, including the walls, floors, exterior walkways and even within architectural details.
Providing a strong and long-lasting structure, concrete is the most widely used commercial material in the world. It’s a versatile and adaptable material that can be altered and changed simply within the changing demands of a commercial building.
Commercial buildings often require a reduced number of columns to expand open plan areas and increase flexibility.
The solution: high-strength concrete can reduce the number and thickness of supporting columns to create more usable space. Post-tensioning design is a reliable method that can deliver these longer spans.
To be useful in commercial construction, construction materials must be able to absorb and release heat at a rate compatible with the building’s daily heating and cooling cycle.
Timber absorbs heat too slowly to offer an effective thermal mass, while steel conducts heat too rapidly to be in sync with a building’s natural heat flow. This means it’s necessary to use a material that reduces the requirement for an inevitable, energy-intensive and high maintenance air-conditioning.
The solution: Concrete and masonry products are dense materials, able to absorb and release heat at an effective rate, whilst also storing it well.
Both firefighters and commercial building occupiers desire a good fire resistance. The business owner will want to repair the damage and return to business-as-usual as quickly as possible after a fire, rather than have the premises closed, then demolished and rebuilt.
The solution: concrete can offer a high level of fire resistance, well beyond most requirements stipulated by building regulations.
A high rate of air leakage can account for significant heat loss from a building. Reducing air leakage will cut down the ongoing operational costs of heating and cooling.
The commercial concrete solution: concrete structures provide an airtight building with minimum air leakage from interface and joint detailing.
Within commercial concrete construction, noise transmission needs to be considered. Often, minimum noise transmission between rooms and floors is required, due to the nature of their design and surrounding environment.
The solution: concrete’s inherent acoustic performance provides excellent sound insulation for commercial buildings.
For commercial buildings, security is a major consideration at all stages of the construction process.
The solution: concrete walls offer a great amount of resistance to unlawful entry such as ram-raiding and prevents the opportunity for thieves to cut through lightweight steel warehouse walls. Robust concrete walls also provide resistance to the impact damage that is often caused by fork-lift trucks.
Flat slabs: slabs supported directly on columns without any beams. They will be supported by cast in-situ or precast columns and in-situ walls. Flat slabs are highly versatile and widely used in construction, providing minimum depth, fast construction and flexible column grids.
Post-tensioning: a method of prestressing flat slabs that offers the thinnest slab type as concrete is worked to its strengths, whilst mostly being kept in compression. Longer spans can be achieved due to prestress, which is also used to control deflections.
An economic solution for long span situations greater than 12m is a post-tensioned band beam – shallow, wide beams that minimise the overall structural depth. Prestressing maximises the performance of the concrete and controls deflection. Typically this beam is 550mm to 600mm deep.
Double-tee floor units: ribbed precast prestressed concrete units – produced in a variety of depths ranging from 200mm to 500mm. The connecting slab is approximately 2400mm wide x 50mm thick. Double tees are suited for larger spanning floors with a wide variety of services suspended from the flooring.
Hollowcore: 1200mm wide extruded, prestressed and voided slab unit with a reinforced concrete topping. The name is derived from the voids or cores which run through the unit, reducing the self-weight of the slabs, and maximising structural efficiency.
Standard unit depths are 200mm, 300mm and 400mm. Hollowcore is suited for large floor spans with commercial loading.
Hybrid concrete construction (HCC): makes use of precast and in-situ concrete together, combining the benefits of both to give a robust, durable construction which is fast on site with an excellent finish. There are many different forms of HCC, but a popular option for commercial buildings is to use hollowcore units which are prestressed to maximise the floor span.
Tilt-Up construction: a popular method of construction that puts together the exterior frame of a building. What makes Tilt-Up so effective is its combination of affordable cost with low maintenance work requirements, durability, and fast construction.
Tilt-Up panels are cast horizontally on-site, then tilted into position. This method casts pre-fabricated steel plates with lugs into the panel – allowing an attachment to footing, other panels, or roofing. It’s popular to impart a pattern or texture to the face of Tilt-Up panels to allow external cladding to be cast in the same process for maximum efficiency.
There are a number of different design options available in addition to conventional reinforced concrete floors to enhance commercial buildings.
With consultation of a qualified design engineer, steel fibres can work:
Commercial floors need high-performance finishes or coatings, and warehouse floors require excellent flatness to allow racking to be utilised to the full height available. Burnished finishes go hand-in-hand with flatness as they can reflect overhead lighting, brighten indoor spaces, allow forklifts to be used safely, and provide concrete flooring with improved durability and abrasion resistance.
Concrete car parks are optimum for commercial facilities because they are easier to maintain, have a longer life span and can support heavier vehicle loads than asphalt car parks.