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FRP Vs Steel: How Do They Measure Up?

Posted by Fibergrate Marketing on Mar 7, 2024 7:58:00 AM

FRP Vs Steel

For centuries, steel has been the go-to material for countless applications from towering skyscrapers to trusty car frames. But over the last 50 years, the FRP vs steel debate has been marking more and more wins for the FRP side. Fiber-reinforced plastic, also known as fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP), continues to gain ground as a trusted, durable, and corrosion-resistant building material. 

So, which material reigns supreme in the battle of toughness and adaptability? Let's delve into the world of FRP vs. steel and see how they measure up.

FRP vs Steel: Composition

FRP: Created by weaving or layering fiberglass strands in a resin matrix, FRP offers a unique combination of properties that make it sturdy and highly functional even under pressure.

Steel: Steel, an iron alloy strengthened by carbon, with its robust nature and affordability has been a popular building material for a very long time. But in the face of modern challenges like corrosion and environmental concerns, steel's limitations are becoming increasingly apparent.

The Properties of FRP vs Steel

Weight: FRP is the undisputed champion in the weight category. Up to 75% lighter than steel, FRP offers significant advantages in transportation, construction, and energy efficiency. It is easy to handle and install on-site, and costs much less to transport vs. steel.

FRP vs Steel - weight

FRP's strength-to-weight ratio exceeds that of steel

Corrosion-resistance: Rust and decay are steel's Achilles' heel. In harsh environments like marine applications or chemical processing, steel succumbs to corrosion, requiring costly replacements. FRP, on the other hand, is highly resistant to corrosion, standing strong against the elements for long-lasting performance.

FRP vs Steel - corrosion resistance

FRP's high corrosion resistance makes it ideal for harsh environments

Heat: When it comes to handling heat, FRP takes the cake. Its low thermal conductivity keeps things cool, making it ideal for applications like pipelines and electrical insulation. Steel, meanwhile, readily conducts heat, posing challenges in specific scenarios.

FRP vs Steel - flame retardant

FRP is flame retardant and highly resistant to heat


Durability and Longevity

FRP's resistance to corrosion extends its lifespan significantly, particularly in environments that would devour steel. This reduces maintenance costs and ensures structures like oil rigs and marine platforms thrive for decades.

From the harsh oil and gas industry to the salty marine world, FRP is proving its mettle. Its longevity and resilience make it the material of choice for critical infrastructure, ensuring safety and reliability where it matters most. Chemical processing plants also benefit from FRP's corrosion resistance, creating a safer and more efficient environment.

Versatility in Applications

Beyond its traditional use in pipelines and tanks, FRP's unique properties – including lightweight strength, corrosion resistance, and design flexibility – make it a valuable material for diverse applications in architecture and design.

It is increasingly used in building components like staircases, walkways, and cladding, offering advantages like low maintenance and reduced weight compared to traditional materials. Additionally, FRP's ability to be molded into complex shapes opens up creative possibilities for architects and designers. This versatility expands the scope of design possibilities, contributing to both functional and aesthetically pleasing structures.

FRP vs Steel - stair treads image

Fibergrate's FRP stair treads


FRP Cost vs. Steel Cost



Depending on the commodities market price of steel, FRP may have a higher initial material cost than steel. But remember, this is just the starting line. The installation of FRP is significantly less costly than that of steel, and when you factor in the long-term picture, FRP remains the clear winner. Think of all the times you've had to repaint or replace a rusty steel structure or building element. With FRP, those days are gone. The material’s low maintenance requirements translate to substantial cost savings over time, making it a wise investment for the future.

FRP Strength vs. Steel Strength

This is not necessarily a direct comparison since strength is measured in different ways. For example, there is the strength to withstand an impact, load-bearing strength, resistance to breaking, etc. Fibergrate’s FRP compares very well to steel and definitely outperforms it in drop tests. We are always happy to demonstrate the performance of our FRP grating vs. steel grating with complete confidence that our products will come out on top.

Poorly made FRP from other manufacturers has raised concerns over the potential brittleness of FRP for certain applications. This is one reason that selecting high-quality FRP from reputable manufacturers like Fibergrate is crucial. Using FRP for innovative applications might bring up questions. Enlisting the help from experienced engineers like those at Fibergrate can help you navigate the unknown and ensure success. The goal is to use the RIGHT material for the RIGHT purpose. Knowing when to use FRP so its strengths shine through will ensure that you are happy with the performance of this material for decades to come.

FRP vs Steel: Conclusion

The battle between FRP and steel isn't about declaring one a victor and the other a vanquished foe. It's about recognizing that each material has its place and choosing the right one for the job. FRP, with its impressive weight-to-strength ratio, corrosion resistance, and versatility, is a game-changer across industries. Its ability to deliver long-term value and unlock new design possibilities makes it a material ripe for adoption in the years to come.

So, the next time you're faced with a material choice, consider FRP. It might just be the lightweight giant that propels your project to new heights of performance and sustainability — and if you need any help along the way, contact Fibergrate.

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Topics: Fiberglass, FRP, Benefits, Corrosion Resistant, Stair Treads, Light Weight

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