Moisture behavior of external insulated precast concrete wall panels

Pauli Sekki, Timo Karvinen, Juha Vinha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


Excess moisture in concrete structures is a major problem in building industry. It is claimed that degradation of the finishing materials of concrete slabs is the largest source of volatile organic compound in the building stock in the Nordic countries. Considering concrete wall panels, the choice of the insulation material influences concrete drying considerably and causes a risk for moisture accumulation on the interior surface, if vapor tight finishing materials are used or if finishing materials are installed prematurely. Mineral wool insulation, which has predominately been used in Finland, is a vapor open material. However, vapor tight plastic foam insulation materials are nowadays more commonplace. Here we show that the overall rate of drying of the concrete panel with a vapor open insulation material is higher in comparison to the concrete panel with vapor tight insulation materials. However, relative humidity distribution near the inner surface of the concrete panel at the end of the drying phase is almost identical irrespective of the insulation material and the water vapor resistance of the interior surface material has a greater impact on the relative humidity level on the inner concrete surface. Moisture behavior of concrete panel walls is studied under a certain building schedule in Finnish environment and building conditions by numerical simulation. The model for drying of concrete is calibrated based on laboratory measurements. According to our study, self-desiccation and changing diffusivity due to the hydration process of the concrete cannot be ignored when evaluating the moisture behavior of the concrete wall panel structure with a low water binder ratio (w/b < 0.5). Measurements indicate that the early age humidity drop is by up to 10 percentage points.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-434
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Building Physics
Issue number5
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Building envelope
  • concrete
  • drying
  • early age
  • hydration
  • moisture behavior
  • relative humidity distribution in concrete
  • self-desiccation
  • wall insulation

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


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