The exact differences between fiberglass and steel

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Fiber Dowels - Blog - Fibreglass vs Steel

How strong is fiberglass compared to steel? Fiberglass is even stronger as steel. This means that when you have a steel reinforcement bar, of 25mm diameter for example. It would not be necessary to replace the steel reinforcement bar for a thicker <25mm reinforcement bar made of fiberglass. In some cases you even can reduce the thickness in comparison with steel bars.

Fiberglass vs Steel

We often encounter this question from buyers considering fiberglass as an alternative to traditional materials, particularly steel.

Steel is widely used in construction due to its high tensile strength, which can reach nearly 60,000 psi. However, in terms of strength-to-weight ratio, fiberglass significantly outperforms steel. Fiberglass offers the same strength as steel but is more flexible, making it impact-resistant. Moreover, fiberglass weighs only 25 percent of what steel does while maintaining equivalent strength. Additionally, fiberglass is stronger than steel in the lengthwise direction, making it ideal for load-bearing applications such as loading ramps.

For that reason a lot of industries are asking for fiberglass, because it is stronger and lighter than steel. Moreover, steel has some other disadvantages which makes fiberglass an even better alternative.

Disadvantages of steel

Susceptible to Corrosion

Steel is known to corrode, especially in corrosive environments. Even stainless steel is vulnerable to rust and corrosion when exposed to various reactive chemicals and moisture. Sulfuric acid, for instance, can quickly corrode steel, posing a significant risk to structural integrity in situations with a lot of repetitive dynamic loads. Corroded steel loses its load-bearing capacity and durability, potentially leading to dangerous situations like concrete ruptures in highways or other concrete pavements.

High Cost

The steel price fluctuates a lot. At this moment the steel price is equal in comparison to fiberglass. But from 2021 steel prices majorly have been more expensive than fiberglass. Especially when looking at the operational expenses and maintenance costs that come together with steel. In recent projects we have discovered that we can save up to 40% of the operational costs by replacing steel with fiberglass reinforcement. Especially if you are using our fiber dowels baskets.

Communication Disruptions

Steel is electromagnetic which can cause Electromagnetic Interference (EMI). EMI is an unwanted noise or interference in an electrical path or circuit caused from the outside. With other words, this is radio frequency interference. Steel reinforcement can cause electronics to operate poorly, malfunction or stop working completely. Which is of course not ideal when you are working at an airport, dock, container terminal, etc.

The Advantages of Fiberglass

Our fiberglass dowelsrebars and baskets are absolutely the best alternative when you want to save costs in the operation and in maintenance, increase durability of the concrete and better risk management in terms of corrosion and Electromagnetic Interference (EMI).

Eco Friendly

The most significant impact of switching to fiberglass reinforcement will be on cost competitiveness. Although the initial cost of fiberglass might be slightly higher, its durability, strength, and long service life make it a far more cost-effective long-term solution. You also won’t need to invest in heavy equipment and a lot of project hours. Additionally, fiberglass can be used in any environment, including those with corrosive conditions.

Optimal Density

The density of a raw material signatures the balance between strength and the weight. With a density of around 2000 kg/m3, fiberglass has an optimal balance between strength and weight. Which makes the application of reinforcement suitable for large scale projects and very practically in different sorts of situation.

4x Times higher tensile Strength

The very light characteristics of fiberglass do not compromise with the strength of fiberglass. Fiberglass has tensile strength up to four times higher than steel. Providing fiberglass reinforcement exceptional durability and resistance to stretching or breaking under tension. Which makes fiberglass an absolute reliable material for reinforcement in terms of risk management.

Corrosion Resistant

A major disadvantage of steel reinforcement in concrete is corrosion, especially in aggressive environments such as coastal areas or industrial zones. Fiber Dowels are completely corrosion-resistant, meaning they are better able to withstand environmental and chemical influences. This leads to more durable and low-maintenance structures.

Not Electromagnetic

Fiberglass is a non-electromagnetic raw material, which means that it doesn’t interfere with electrical paths of circuits. This guarantees that there is no interference with radio frequencies or third party equipment used after in the implementation of the fiberglass reinforcement. Perfectly suitable for airports, docks, container terminals, etc.

Thermal Conductivity

The high conductivity of steel makes it less suitable for applications involving electricity, posing potential risks and limitations in certain usage scenarios.

Lower work intensity and increase productivity with the products of Fiber Dowels

Due to the lightweight nature of our fiberglass products, labor intensity is drastically reduced. An employee can carry approximately 10 dowel baskets including dowels. This also increases productivity as projects can be completed much more efficiently and therefore faster.

Fun Fact

Did you know that with Fiber Dowels fiberglass products, employees were able to place 40% more dowel baskets in 1 day than if they had used the steel version?


Is Fiberglass stronger than steel?

Fiberglass, known for its lightweight properties, does not compromise on strength. In fact, fiberglass boasts a tensile strength up to four times higher than that of steel. This impressive strength ensures that fiberglass reinforcement is exceptionally durable and resistant to stretching or breaking under tension. Consequently, fiberglass is a highly reliable material for reinforcement, offering significant benefits in terms of risk management.

What is the difference between fiberglass and metal?

Steel and fiberglass are very different in their composition. Due to the lower density of fiberglass, the fiberglass is a lighter raw material. However the tensile strength of fiberglass is 4 times as high as the tensile strength of steel. Which makes fiberglass lighter and stronger. Furthermore, fiberglass offers unique advantages in terms of resistance against corrosion, non-electromagnetic, low thermal conductivity, etc.

Is Fiberglass cheaper than steel?

From 2021 onwards, fiberglass majorly has been cheaper than steel. Fiberglass as a raw material is very stable in price. As with steel, its price fluctuates a lot due to economic decisions by the central banks or because of transport problems, too much supply in the market also realizes price differences.

What are the cons of fiberglass?

In terms of properties required for its intended applications, fiberglass has no disadvantages compared to steel.

How long does Fiberglass last?

Fiberglass products are renowned for their longevity, often lasting for several decades. Their lifespan frequently surpasses that of steel, particularly in corrosive environments. Unlike steel, which can rust and deteriorate over time when exposed to moisture and chemicals, fiberglass maintains its integrity and strength. This resistance to corrosion and environmental degradation makes fiberglass an ideal choice for applications in harsh conditions. Additionally, the low maintenance requirements and high durability of fiberglass contribute to its cost-effectiveness over the long term, making it a superior alternative to traditional materials like steel in many demanding applications.