Tilt up construction has been around a while now. It’s a common form of construction, responsible for the easy creation of many large buildings. Tilt-up is a relatively new form of construction, and its future is looking up.


What is it?


Its name may not be especially easy to figure out, but it describes this form of building perfectly. Tilt-up construction is basically using cranes to lift large structural pieces of buildings into place. These parts of buildings, such as walls and concrete/flooring slabs are often fabricated on-site.

It shares some qualities with pre-fab construction. Pre-fab building is done by building elements off-site, and then bringing them to location. Once there, they are pieced together, or simply placed on their own (depending on the level of prefabrication). Therein lies the main difference, tilt-up materials are built on-site, whereas pre-fab materials come from off-site, sometimes different states, or even countries.


History of tilt-up construction


Originally, this type of construction began to see large-scale use when it was used for “big box” buildings. If you live in America, you know the type. Large stores, like Best Buy, Walmart, and Home Depot probably come to mind. These building were easy to make in the early days of tilt-up. They could have all of their wall pieces laid on the ground in order, and then a crane could easily go through them, one-by-one, tilting them into place. These big boxes relied on economies of scale and were thus an easy and sound investment using this building method.

However, the real history of tilt-up construction is a little longer. It’s been around for 113 years now. Tilt-up was originally showcased by Robert Akin, who built the West Hollywood Schindler House. He poured the concrete walls on site and then tilted them up into place with a crane. 1908 Was the year tilt-up was patented as well, also by Robert Akin.

In that same year, Thomas Edison believed that tilt-up was the wave of the future. He built a whole village of concrete homes in New Jersey using the tilt-up method. As those buildings still stand today, it provides a testament to the staying power of this type of construction.

After the second world war finished, there was a glut of materials and supplies in the US. Additionally, new technology also helped. The war saw a huge race to make more advanced machinery, and now that it didn’t have uses on the battlefield, the ideas behind it were being repurposed back at home. Mobile cranes and cement mixers on trucks became the norm. and this only sped up the acceptance of tilt-up construction. 

For decades, tilt-up could only efficiently build large, boxy structures. Walls had to be straight, joined at 90 degree angles. However, advances in cement and concrete mixing has led to much better tilt-up designs. Ready-mix concrete made tilt-up even more efficient. Construction contractors can now build curved walls, circular or oval openings, and surfaces can be built with aggregate, not just concrete. Brick, stone, and other materials can also be used. Nowadays, it’s common to see hospitals, schools, and houses are also built with tilt-up construction.

Read this article for a complete history of tilt-up construction, from it’s inception to its present.


Tilt-up construction’s many uses


Tilt-up combines some of the best features of modern construction to make a great over-all product.




  • High quality projects can be done. With the pouring and laying of concrete on the ground, quality control is much easier. 
  • The modular style of tilt-up enables setting and curing of concrete to be done more quickly. For example, large amounts of concrete take forever to dry and set. Tilt-up breaks them into smaller bits which take significantly less time. Time equals money, so this results in savings to the commercial contractors and thus their clients.
  • Built to last. The first tilt-up buildings are still standing.
  • Low maintenance.
  • Energy efficient. Concrete walls are good insulators, and it is possible to cast walls with better heat-retaining and cool-retaining properties.
  • Enormous buildings, such as warehouses, can be constructed easily, cheaply, and quickly.

Nowadays, tilt-up construction is used in 15% of all industrial buildings. In some places, like Texas, tilt-up accounts for 75% of new commercial construction! Thanks to new developments, tilt-up can build all kinds of structures, and has uses across the board.


When is tilt-up construction not a good idea?


Although tilt-up is a great method for all-around building, construction isn’t a one-size-fits-all science. In areas with extremely little space, it may be impossible to cast walls on the ground first. Additionally, extremely tall buildings can’t use tilt up, as cranes can’t lift entire cement walls dozens of stories into the air. Finally, some buildings simply aren’t best when made out of concrete. For example, steel frame structures like warehouses, wooden buildings like barns, and others should avoid using tilt-up building.


Have your building made reliably


If you are looking to get that new building made for your business, go to the best. Reliable Commercial Construction has been in the business for almost 40 years, and knows the ins and outs of building in Texas. We have a proven portfolio of successes and are experts in various forms of building. Of course, tilt-up is one of our favorite ways to make new, high-quality buildings that we deliver on-time, and on budget. Our services range from industrial and commercial construction to demolition. We are the go-to company in Texas for commercial and retail repairs and renovation. Our best specialty though, is the construction of new self storage facilities. Contact us today for a free design quote, and we can let you know how best to make your building dream a reality.