BY LINDA HIRVONEN
Money, money, money. Love it or hate it, we cannot begin a project without a thought to costs. Maybe that’s why the questions we hear the most often are about graphic design and price. When meeting with architects or builders to discuss graphic concrete, one frequently asked question is: “How much does Graphic Concrete cost?” The perhaps-not-so-surprising thing is that, before we can even answer, the questioner finishes with: “… compared to regular, grey concrete panels?”.
Sounds like a legitimate question, right? Naturally, it’s easier to gauge the feasibility of a product or service when you can compare it to something familiar or to the most basic option. But what that question reveals is that people tend to think Graphic Concrete is expensive. And to be honest, the beautiful results do make it look that way.
There’s also the assumption is the question that cost is not objectively determined or a good guide to price. Rather, the value we get helps us determine what we are willing to pay or feel we should pay, that somehow the price is going to be inflated because the object is desirable.
What we find helpful to the client is this immediate response: “Is that the option if Graphic Concrete is not used?” Because, how often, in reality, would Plan B turn out to be “regular grey concrete panels”?
You might already have guessed or know from experience that, 99% of the time, the answer is “No.” Instead, the “price-to-compare” is for something else, such as cladding, plaster, steel panels, or traditional bricks.
As soon as this reality dawns, we all want to move the discussion forward to the real question: “What do we want to achieve?” Yes, cost is one factor in what must be achieved and we can look at ways to optimize affordability, but this is much more complex than price per square meter or foot … Still, that original question needs an answer. Let’s work backward to find it:
So where does graphic concrete fall in the price spectrum of facade materials?
The price point can be anywhere from that of standard bricks or plaster (although these two materials both have maintenance fees in the future, compared to precast concrete, which does not) to that of high-end artwork.
Note that Graphic Concrete is an industrial product made for the construction industry, especially for projects of large scale.
However, we operate in the printing industry space as well and the pricing attributes are the same as with any product from the print industry: The first copy is the most expensive and, from there, the copy prices go down immediately to 10% of the price of the original and so on. For example, if you order new business cards, the first one is the most expensive one. But if you order 1000 pieces, the unit price is a fraction of the original. Graphic Concrete works in the same way.
The size of the original and the amount of repetition affects the price:
How do we optimize cost effectiveness with graphic concrete?
The best end result is achieved when the plan and design are optimized to the chosen technique. With graphic concrete, the technical attributes matter. Here are a few key strategies you can use to help get the best return for your design investment with precast and graphic concrete:
- Repetition and copies
The most cost efficient pattern is a original of maximum size 3200 x 3200 meters (or 10'6'' x 10'6'' feet) in a seamless pattern that is printed as a continuous wallpaper-like way onto the Graphic Concrete membrane.
- Free flowing pattern
Designers tend to think about every detail of the pattern and convert it to equations that form an aesthetic and well-functioning structure. Sometimes planning too much isn’t the best plan. The human eye seeks rhythm and pattern repetition everywhere. Sometimes it is only when the pattern is placed with a freer alignment or random positioning onto the panels that the use of repetition is not so obvious.
- Large quantity / vast surface in the building
For a façade, a minimum of 1000 m2 (or 10,760 ft2) and up is recommended.
- Element sizes and elevation
The graphic concrete membrane maximum printing height is 3200 meters (10'6'' ft), so it is advisable from the cost perspective that the height or width of the panel itself is no more than this measurement. As long as the panel sizes and ratios fit the graphic concrete membrane size, you are on the right track.
Of course, the final plan and design determine the end price. We will be happy to help you optimize your design to the graphic concrete technology in the ways mentioned above and more.
Now, to answer the question of the day …
(drum rolls, please)
The graphic concrete membrane price varies from 15€ to 275€ per square meter ($2 to $31 US per sf). The all-time membrane price average per finished precast project with Graphic Concrete is approximately 36€/m2, or $3,81 US /sf . Note that this is only the membrane price. The final price for the panels depend on panel type, size, amount, and concrete mix design and is always given by the local precaster.
And, how about the end product compared to that “regular, grey concrete”?
On average roughly 30% higher and in the same price range as precast inlaid brick concrete panels.
To get a simple and short answer please contact us for a quote!