Are All Bollards Filled with Concrete?

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Security bollards are a familiar sight around commercial buildings, residential estates and public spaces. Installed primarily to control traffic flow and protect property, their heavy-duty construction makes them a stalwart of safety. But what’s inside these robust installations? Are all bollards filled with concrete?

In this guide, we’ll explore what purpose concrete filling serves in a bollard and explore the pros and cons of concrete-filled bollards. We’ll also discuss the key factors to consider when selecting the right bollard for your needs.

Why Are Bollards Filled with Concrete?

Bollards are sturdy vertical posts installed to protect property, control traffic flow and prevent unauthorised vehicle access. While bollards come in a variety of forms, from plastic to stainless steel, many heavy-duty security bollards feature a concrete fill within a structural steel casing.

Not all bollards are filled with concrete. However, concrete infill may be used to provide:

  • An inexpensive way of adding weight to a bollard, to provide stability. Heavier concrete-filled bollards are harder to displace.
  • Reinforcement of the bollard structure against collisions and impacts. The concrete fortifies the inner casing.
  • Weather protection for any internal steel components, reducing corrosion and rust over time.
  • Extreme difficulty in cutting through or vandalising the bollard, thanks to the concrete’s strength.

So concrete can certainly add rigidity and robustness in certain bollard applications. However, concrete fill also brings some limitations, as we’ll now discuss.

Downsides of Concrete-Filled Bollards

Some potential disadvantages of using concrete as an interior bollard fill include:

  • Brittleness – Concrete has low tensile strength, and is not good at absorbing shock. While it may be successful at stopping vehicles, it risks cracking and failing.
  • Inflexibility – Unlike steel, concrete does not bend or deform upon impact, meaning it may not be able to withstand extremely high forces without breaking.
  • Weight – Extremely heavy concrete-filled units can be impractical to transport and install.
  • Permanence – Concrete cannot generally be moved if bollard access requirements change in future. However, some concrete-filled bollards are designed to be removable, and some may be telescopic (able to rise and retract when needed).

In some situations, such as areas requiring high impact absorption, concrete may therefore reduce rather than enhance performance. Other options can often prove more effective.

Types of Concrete-Filled Bollards

Basic concrete bollard posts are pre-cast or poured on site as a solid, single-piece concrete column. Concrete-filled metal bollards typically comprise structural steel pipe internally infilled with concrete. The outer steel casing visually enhances the bollard while containing the concrete.

Common concrete bollard varieties include:

  • Fixed bollards – Permanent concrete or concrete-filled security posts.
  • Removable bollards – Some have a concrete insert within their steel sleeve housing.
  • Telescopic bollards – May be set in concrete or have concrete lower sections for stability when retracted.

Various other bollard types eschew concrete, using different materials and builds. Some steel and stainless steel bollard models, for example, may not require concrete infill to offer superior performance in high-security applications.

When Should You Use Concrete Filled Bollards?

From a budget perspective, the relatively low material cost of concrete makes it an affordable way to add strengthening and stability in low and moderate risk settings. Given their respective advantages and disadvantages, concrete security bollards are generally optimal for use as a visual deterrent, or in low speed areas where only minor impacts from glancing blows or accidental bumps are anticipated.

However, for settings where high-speed head-on collisions are a possibility – such as in anti-terrorism applications – concrete may actually increase the risk of shattering or catastrophic failure. This is because concrete has minimal capacity to flex and absorb major impacts.

For critical security applications, it’s more important to focus on the product’s impact resistance and performance in crash tests than whether it’s filled with concrete. Some concrete-filled bollards may perform better than hollow or solid steel alternatives, while the opposite may also be true.

Choosing the Right Bollard Type

The right bollard choice will provide the ideal balance of aesthetics, durability, strength, functionality and value for your unique setting and risk factors. There are several key considerations when choosing bollards:

  • Intended location – Is it a high or low traffic area? What potential impacts could the bollard realistically face over its lifespan?
  • Anticipated risks – Are high vehicle speeds involved? What size vehicles could make contact? Is hostile vehicular attack a concern?
  • Visual factors – Should the bollard seamlessly blend into the surroundings or stand out? What colours, shapes and finishes best suit the environment?
  • Access needs – Do you require permanently fixed bollards, or easily removable or retractable options to allow occasional access?
  • Budget – What is the project cost ceiling? Achieving an optimal lifespan involves balancing strength and durability with affordability.
  • Installation practicalities – Will heavily concrete-filled bollards be too challenging and expensive to transport and install on-site?

Checking manufacturers’ technical data sheets is crucial too. These provide detailed specifications like the bollard’s exact dimensions, finishes and importantly, its impact resistance rating.

However, interpreting these specifications in context requires expert insight. There is no substitute for guidance from experienced bollard specialists who can objectively match the optimal product range to your unique risk factors and performance requirements.

Trust Macs Bollards for Your Vehicle Security Needs

Looking for steel or concrete bollards for sale? With over 15 years of experience supplying security bollards, Macs Bollards can recommend the most suitable bollard types for your particular installation. Our extensive range includes fixed, retractable, removable and automatic bollard systems to suit all budgets, whether you require a vehicle security solution for your business or home.

Browse our website for more information or contact us to discuss your requirements. Call us on 0161 320 6463 or enquiries@macs-bollards.com. Our friendly team aim to deliver transparent, tailored advice to help identify the ideal bollard solutions for your project needs.

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