Engineers and architects have known about the benefits of fiber-reinforced concrete for more than a hundred years, but many homeowners and private contractors still use ordinary concrete mixes on residential construction projects. While it is true that FRC increases initial concrete prices, FRC also improves the cohesion of the concrete mix during pumping, reduces the probability of explosive spalling during fires, improves impact resistance, improves resistance to damage from abrasion, improves resistance to damage from freezing and thawing cycles, reduces concrete permeability, and improves the durability of the concrete by limiting the widths of any cracks that develop. While the FRC costs more than standard concrete mixes, labor costs and construction time are both reduced. The improved performance also extends the useful life of the material. Reduced labor costs, shorter construction times, and improved product lifecycle negate the cost of the concrete and make FRC a smart choice when using concrete in almost any residential or commercial project.
The addition of metal or polymer fibers to concrete drastically changes the performance characteristics of the material, but the specific improvements depend upon the type of fibers used, the length of the fibers, the volume of fibers added to the mix, and even the way the fibers are oriented within the concrete. Steel fibers offer advantages for some uses, polypropylene fibers are better for certain uses, and mixtures of steel and polypropylene fibers are often the best choice.
FRC that contains steel fibers provides additional structural strength. It does not completely replace rebar, but it can reduce the amount of rebar required. Steel fibers reduce crack widths, improve concrete ductility, and improve the impact resistance and abrasion resistance of the concrete. They improve the material’s resistance to freezing and thawing cycles and produce a material that is more durable than polypropylene FRC. Steel fiber FRC is the most expensive option, but it is the ideal material for heavily-loaded garage floors, industrial slabs, metal decks, and for use in underground applications.
FRC that contains polypropylene fibers has better cohesion of the wet mix, so it is easier to pump over long distances. It offers improved resistance to explosive spalling during fires and is less likely to exhibit shrinkage during curing or cracking due to settlement. Like metal fiber FRC, it also exhibits improved resistance to freezing and thawing cycles and has improved impact resistance. FRC with polypropylene fibers are used in garages, residential slabs, commercial slabs, and patios.
By using FRC that contains both steel and polypropylene fibers, builders can gain the benefits of both types of materials. Novomesh is a trade name for this type of mixed FRC, and it is widely used in commercial slabs, industrial slabs, walls, metal decks, and in underground applications.
Razorback Concrete Company offers ready mix concrete with steel, polypropylene, and steel/polypropylene fiber blends. The company serves the northeast quadrant of Arkansas (including Little Rock) and can provide expert advice on the selection of the best concrete reinforcement fiber solution for any project. Use our online contact form or call us at 870-735-9580 to get started.