100 YEARS OF PRACTICE DOESN’T MAKE PERFECT: TOP 3 REASONS TO CONSIDER FRP REINFORCEMENT OVER STEEL

FRP rebar has been around for decades, but has been used very seldom in comparison to “good ol’ steel” rebar. Lately, advancements in the composites industry are bringing the price point for such materials down, and there has never been a better time to start considering this alternative material for your next project.

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I think I can speak for the crowd here; everyone likes to be one step ahead of their competition. While this is typically true, fear of the unknown is often greater than this desire to be the top dog. Using a new product requires a change from the status quo, and many people fear change. I’m here to tell you, change is a good thing and when it comes to concrete reinforcement, perhaps change is the only option that makes sense.

Because I know you’ll need some convincing, here are my top reasons why you should consider using FRP rebar in your next concrete project:

  1. No Corrosion. The corrosion of embedded metals (such as steel rebar) is the LEADING cause of concrete failure. Most likely, this isn’t news to you. We all know that steel will eventually rust, but, nevertheless, we continue to embed millions of tons of steel rebar into our concrete infrastructure every year. We are satisfied with sub-par results because it is what we know. It’s familiar and predictable, and we are comfortable with that. We’ve been using steel rebar for over 100 years so no one can fault me for using it, right? When we hear “new material” we think change, which leads to more work, new policies, new design strategies, etc... It’s enough to make our heads spin and then look over at that rusty and spalling concrete bridge and think, “well it’s not so bad after all.” While change can be scary, and can create a little extra work upfront, this disruption is only temporary. The benefits that FRP rebar brings to the table last significantly longer.
  2. Longer lasting Concrete. Because FRP rebar will never rust, causing early failure of the concrete it was meant to reinforce, the concrete will last longer. Since some of the oldest concrete projects using FRP reinforcement are only a few decades old, there isn’t a tried and true statistic telling you how long that structure will last. However, tests were performed on FRP rebar from a bridge in Canada that was subjected to deicing chemicals eight years into its life, and they found that the FRP bars showed no sign of deterioration at that point. Pretty promising results! Click here to view the details of this study conducted by ISIS Canada.

 

Fun fact: currently in the US, the FHWA estimates that one in every three bridges are structurally deficient. Do you think that maybe it’s time to stop “reinforcing” concrete with a material that will eventually destroy it? I think so.

  1. Lifetime Value. Using FRP rebar will save you money in the long run. According to G2MT Laboratories of Houston, TX, corrosion will cost the US over one trillion dollars in 2016, making it one of the largest single expenses that we, US taxpayers, will foot the bill for this year. This number is based on a study conducted by the NACE in 1998. The original figure of $276B annually was adjusted to include both direct and indirect costs of corrosion along with inflation. This one trillion dollar figure recognizes corrosion costs across multiple industry sectors, they include: transportation, infrastructure, government, utilities, and production/manufacturing. Today, within the infrastructure sector, the corrosion of highway bridges alone will cost US taxpayers over 35 billion dollars in 2016. This money goes towards corrosion prevention technologies, corrosion related inspections and maintenance, rehabilitation and refurbishment needed due to corrosion, etc. Of the 607,380 bridges across the US, approximately 56% of them were constructed with concrete embedded with reinforcing steel (either conventional reinforced concrete or prestressed concrete). I think we can all agree that there are billions of dollars to be saved here.

 

Although FRP rebar isn’t a one-for-one direct replacement for steel in all reinforced concrete structural elements, advancements in composites manufacturing have dropped FRP rebar costs making it impossible to simply ignore. So if you’re looking for a way to stand out from your competition, I think it’s time you looked outside of your comfort zone. One hundred years of practice didn’t make perfect… Good thing it’s never too late to change the game.

 

Jesse Garcia

Seguro Construction

"We used GatorBar for a parking lot tearout and repour in Houston. My guys were impressed with the weight advantage, and said they could place GatorBar easier and faster than steel rebar. We are excited to use it again on future projects."