Concrete vs. Steel Bollards: What’s the Difference?

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Security bollards come in a variety of materials, with steel and concrete among the most common. Each type of vehicle barrier offers unique characteristics that make them suitable for different applications.

Both steel and concrete bollards serve the same essential purpose—providing security, deterring unauthorised access and controlling traffic. However, their material differences lead to variations in many factors including durability, maintenance needs, aesthetics and cost.

In this guide, we will compare concrete and steel bollards, examining each material’s strengths and weaknesses to help you make an informed decision for your specific vehicle security needs.

What Are Steel Bollards?

Steel bollards are robust vehicle security barriers made primarily from steel, an alloy of iron and carbon. The strength of the steel makes these bollards capable of withstanding high levels of force. They are widely used in residential, public and commercial settings due to their strength, versatility and modern appearance. Some common applications include:

  • Residential driveways: To deter car thieves and parking opportunists.
  • Business premises and storefronts: To protect buildings and structures from potential vehicular accidents.
  • Public car parks: To delineate pedestrian and vehicle areas and prevent unauthorised parking or access.

Steel bollards come in various finishes, including stainless steel bollards and galvanised steel bollards, which offer increased protection from rusting and corrosion. They are available in fixed, removable and telescopic (rising) models.

What Are Concrete Bollards?

A concrete bollard is a solid, heavy vertical post made from a mix of cement, aggregate and water. These bollards provide a simple, budget-friendly and effective solution for controlling traffic and restricting vehicular access. They are typically used in public spaces such as parks, town centres and busy cities to designate pedestrian-only areas and prevent accidental vehicle collisions.

Concrete has a natural stone-like appearance, making it a popular choice for bollards. It can also be painted a variety of colours to match the surrounding environment.

Key Differences Between Concrete and Steel Bollards

When deliberating between bollard materials, a multitude of factors need to be considered. Among other things, this includes your budget, your desired appearance and finish, and the level of impact resistance and access control required. Here are some of the main differences between the two.

 

Impact Resistance

In terms of strength, steel bollards are generally able to withstand higher levels of force than concrete bollards. Many heavy-duty steel bollards are designed for HVM (hostile vehicle mitigation) purposes, and crash-tested to ensure effective impact resistance. This makes them particularly suitable for locations with high vehicle traffic or areas prone to potential vehicular attack, such as government buildings and event venues. Concrete, on the other hand, can be prone to cracking or breaking on impact.

Installation

Both types of security bollards must be fixed securely in the ground in order to provide effective protection. However, concrete bollards are much heavier and can be more challenging and labour-intensive to install. This can increase installation time and costs. Additionally, compared to steel metal bollards, concrete bollards are typically more difficult to remove or relocate once they are in place.

Durability and Longevity

Concrete and steel are both designed to be robust, long-lasting security measures, and typically outperform other materials such as plastic and polyurethane. However, their durability and lifespan can vary.

Steel is prone to corrosion, discolouration and rust over time, so steel bollards typically feature a stainless or galvanised coating to prevent this. Concrete bollards, of course, are not affected by chemical changes that impact metals. However, they may be prone to chipping, cracking and erosion when exposed to the elements, which can affect their appearance and functionality. For this reason, steel bollards tend to outlast their concrete counterparts.

Appearance

Steel bollards project a modern, sleek, shiny aesthetic that suits a variety of urban and commercial environments. Concrete bollards, conversely, have a more rustic, natural look that blends well into parks and natural landscapes.

Both types of bollards come with various colour and finish options: concrete can be painted and steel powder-coated. However, only steel bollards can be fitted with reflective panels and lighting, making them a better option for enhanced visibility.

Access Control

Steel bollards offer an extensive variety in terms of design and function. Some common types of steel bollards include:

  • Fixed bollards: These are permanently installed, offering a high level of security.
  • Removable bollards: These can be removed when occasional access is needed, providing excellent flexibility.
  • Telescopic (rising) steel bollards: The most convenient access control solution, these bollards can be lowered into the ground whenever necessary, either manually or using an automatic bollard system.

Concrete bollards, on the other hand, are typically permanent fixtures that cannot be easily removed. This means that they are only suitable for use in locations where vehicle access is never required.

Cost

Due to the complexity of their design and the materials used in their construction, steel bollards typically come with a higher price tag than concrete options. However, it’s essential to remember that the higher upfront investment in a stainless steel bollard can often pay off in the long term. Due to their improved impact resistance, durability and longevity, they will not need to be replaced as often.

Maintenance

Both concrete and steel bollards require periodic cleaning and maintenance to help preserve their appearance and prolong their lifespan, including possible reapplication of coatings.

However, certain steel bollard models (e.g. telescopic and automatic bollards) may also require servicing and repairs to keep their internal mechanisms working correctly. It’s important to seek out a reputable bollard servicing company to ensure your vehicle security barriers continue to perform at their best.

Contact MACs Bollards Today

Are you looking for high-quality steel bollards (UK)? If so, MACs Bollards can help. We supply a wide range of fixed, removable, manual and automatic rising bollards, including standard and HVM crash-rated models in a variety of sizes and specifications.

We have more than 15 years’ experience in supplying high-quality bollards for residential, commercial and public use, and pride ourselves on our fast lead times and excellent customer service. Contact MACs Bollards today and our team of experts will help you find the ideal security solution for your needs and budget. Fill in our enquiry form, email enquiries@macs-bollards.com or call us on 0161 320 6463.

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