Everything You Need to Know About Fibre Concrete
Fibre concrete, or ‘fiber’ in U.S. English, which people also call fibre-reinforced concrete, is a type of construction material that contains various types of small fibres. Putting fibres in concrete adds structural integrity for a project as it helps reduce the possibility of any cracking or water permeating the concrete.
There are many different types of fibre that you can add to concrete, with the main advantage of making it more secure. Types of fibre concrete include glass fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC), plastic-based polypropylene fibre concrete, carbon fibre concrete, steel fibre concrete and blends of fibres in some cases.
We make use of fibre concrete in many of our concrete design projects, and you can contact us for a quote if you have a fibre concrete project to complete. The following is a guide to some of the types of fibres reinforced concrete can use and their advantages and disadvantages.
What are the types of fibres in concrete, and what are they good for?
You are probably finding the many variations of fibre concrete somewhat confusing to choose between, but there are different properties, advantages and disadvantages to each.
Some of the types of fibre concrete, and their benefits for different types of projects, include the following:
Glass fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC) for a light weight and strength
GFRC uses small glass fibres and has many applications in the construction industry. GFRC has a lot of useful properties and you make it by mixing cement, water, sand and glass fibre. The type of glass fibre that you use will be alkali-resistant. Alkali resistant glass fibres help prevent absorption.
The advantages of GFRC is that it is lightweight, but still has a high degree of strength. These properties make it suitable for wall panels, countertops and the area surrounding fireplaces. The glass fibre gives GFRC extra strength, so you can use thinner pieces of concrete without reducing the weight it can take.
The disadvantages of using GFRC are that it can be costly to use. It is always more expensive than using regular concrete. You also have to pre-fabricate GFRC, so a lot of planning is necessary. There is also a chance that GFRC will lose some strength over time, which may make it a poor choice in some settings.
Plastic fibre concrete for flexibility and freeze-resistance
Similarly to GFRC, plastic fibre concrete is very lightweight – so has some of the same applications. The properties of plastic fibre lend itself well to the construction industry, most notably because of the fact that plastic has a good level of flexibility – which will help reduce or prevent any cracking.
The kind of plastic that you will typically use in this type of fibre concrete is nylon or polypropylene. Polypropylene is a polymer that has other uses in everything from clothing to medical supplies. Plastic fibre concrete has the advantage of better resistance to very cold temperatures and resisting wear.
The main disadvantages of plastic fibre concrete include the strength of the material. Plastic has properties that are quite soft, so it does not have the same level of strength as other types of fibre concrete. It will also have a low melting point, and so is unsuitable for furnaces or certain other industrial settings.
Carbon fibre concrete for high strength and chemical resistance
Carbon fibre concrete uses small pieces of carbon fibre to fill the concrete. You manufacture carbon fibre by bonding carbon atoms together. The properties this type of concrete fibre has include being low-weight, high-strength and having a solid level of chemical resistance.
Using carbon fibre concrete gives you a lower chance of concrete fatigue over time, and it is an extremely long-lasting choice. The durability and lack of corrosion make it useful for industrial settings, including ones where there is high acidity. Carbon fibre concrete resists salt so will prevent seawater damage.
The primary disadvantage of carbon fibre concrete is that it is a very expensive option. You are probably worrying about the costs of your project, so carbon fibre concrete is not the best choice if you are on a budget. Handling carbon fibre can also be an issue during construction as it conducts electricity.
Steel fibre concrete for durability and crack-resistance
Steel is a reliable and sturdy material that makes it a good choice for many projects that will be using fibre concrete. The properties of steel fibre concrete are that it is highly durable and provides significant structural integrity. If cracking occurs, steel fibre concrete will limit the impact of the cracks.
Using steel fibre concrete is beneficial because it resists freezing temperatures, which means it can have applications in cold conditions. It also has a high melting point, so it has the ability to keep the integrity of its structure at very high temperatures – which makes it useful in industrial settings.
Disadvantages of steel include the weight of the material. When using steel fibre concrete it is difficult to get an even distribution of fibres, which may affect the strength. Steel fibre concrete can also be a pricier option in many cases and may develop corrosion if it has heavy exposure to weather or chemicals.
Blends of fibre concrete for a mixture of attributes
It is possible to blend certain types of fibre to achieve the most suitable type of fibre concrete. The light weight of glass may be desirable, but certain projects may also require a high degree of strength. In this instance, using a combination of glass and steel fibre may be appropriate.
It is essential to remember that blends of fibre concrete do not necessarily give you the same advantages of each type, there will be a reduction in their properties as there will be less of each material present. It is also important to remember that you will also have the disadvantages of each type of fibre.
Choosing the right kind of fibre concrete for your project
It is difficult to choose the right kind of fibre concrete for your design project, but we have the expertise to assist you. It all depends on what properties you find desirable for the concrete, which will relate to the applications that your concrete project will have.
Corrosion resistant fibre concrete is necessary for industrial settings, whereas plastic fibre concrete may be more suitable for domestic settings. Overall fibre concrete is a good way to add extra strength and durability to a structure.