Fiberglass vs. Precast Concrete

Precast concrete products may have been the industry standard for years, but fiberglass products are changing the rules.

Fabrication

Fiberglass products are fabricated from a lightweight, non-porous material in strong one-piece molds. Precast concrete is typically created and installed in sections due to massive weight. Since there are no joints in fiberglass products, unlike concrete, infiltration and contamination at the site is highly unlikely. Concrete is also vulnerable to penetration and damage from underground roots. When fresh groundwater enters the system, it can cause an increase in wastewater levels, leading to an increase in treatment costs and even a possible need for over-sized water treatment plants.

Structure

Concrete products appear structurally sound at first, but over time corrosion and cracks caused by expansion and contraction severely affect the structural integrity of concrete. Fiberglass products are as structurally strong as concrete; in fact, the strength to weight ratio for fiberglass is astonishing. Unlike concrete, a fiberglass product that is 30 years old is just as structurally sound as it was the day it was made. Fiberglass products experience no loss in strength over time.

Corrosion

It is hard to give an average life span for precast concrete products since there are many factors that may cause deterioration at different rates. Concrete is susceptible to Microbial Induced Concrete Corrosion (MICC). MICC is a process by which sulfuric acid, found in most wastewater systems when hydrogen sulfide gas and bacteria react, attacks and degrades the concrete. Fiberglass products are resistant against hydrogen sulfide and many other forms of corrosion. Simply stated, fiberglass will not corrode like concrete and has a much longer life span.

Installation

Fiberglass products typically weigh substantially less than precast concrete products, therefore installation is accomplished with less manpower and time. Additionally, in the rare occasion that a fiberglass product becomes damaged and needs repair, fiberglass can be field repaired much more easily than concrete, including on-site repairs.

Cost

Fiberglass products outperform precast concrete in almost all aspects except one: product cost. Precast concrete products are typically less expensive that fiberglass. However, the savings are short-lived. You may save money on your initial purchase cost, but once the additional costs associated with difficult installations, complex on-site repairs, and even replacing the entire product due to deterioration are factored in, fiberglass is clearly the superior choice; ensuring a long-lasting and maintenance-free performance.

Conclusion

Fiberglass products can withstand drastic and unpredictable chemical and environment challenges. These products will not rot, corrode, warp, contract, expand, rust, dent, bow, shrink, twist, fade, blister, split, crack, deteriorate, or distort. Make the smart decision and choose fiberglass products manufactured by VPC, and save yourself from headaches down the road.



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