Safe and effective construction requires the use of many materials – both in the construction itself and in the tools and structures used in the process. The demands on the latter are just as stringent as those used to build a construct. For example, walkways must be strong and load bearing. They may need to be able to withstand harsh weather or even chemical spillage and much more. Fire resistance and non-conductivity are often essential to safety too.
To achieve the right combination of properties, construction access solutions often utilise FRPs (Fibre-Reinforced Polymers). These are composite materials made up of a polymer matrix that is reinforced with fibres. These fibres may be carbon, aramid or basalt. However, the most common is glass fibre.
Glass-reinforced plastic (also known as GRP, fibreglass, or glass fibre) is a composite material made of plastic and glass fibres. GRP offers unique properties to those of its individual components. It is a more robust material with several properties which make it useful across the construction industry.
Properties of GRP
Composite materials can achieve a combination of beneficial properties that are not readily available in other materials. GRP, for example, is:
Each property itself is desirable. Having all of these properties present in one cost-effective material is hugely beneficial.
Having more lightweight alternatives is a huge benefit to the construction industry. Among many other things, it makes installations far easier. GRP is excellent for this. It provides lightweight solutions whilst continuing to offer the desired qualities found in materials such as steel. For example, GRP grated flooring is just as effective as its steel counterpart. It is also hardwearing and strong, making it ideal for load-bearing structures. However, it sets itself apart as it is lighter and more cost-effective.
Non-conductivity is crucial to health and safety. Where there is an increased electrical risk, GRP is the perfect solution. Therefore, it is popular in the construction industry and is prevalent in the rail sector. There is no room for error when protecting yourself and others from electrical risks. Access to non-conductive materials that still meet your other requirements is essential.
GRP is waterproof. And some GRP products are available with an anti-slip gritted surface. Both of these properties are fundamental to good health and safety. This makes GRP handrails, ladders and stairs popular options across various industries.
Another desirable property of GRP is that it is non-corrosive. As a result, the chemical sector can take full advantage of the many benefits GRP offers. Furthermore, this means GRP is resistant to harsh weather conditions. Being weather-resistant is invaluable for outdoor use.
Where Is GRP Used?
The properties of fibreglass listed above (as well as several others) make it a popular choice across many industries. GRP is used in automotive and aerospace manufacturing. It is also ideal for upholding the high safety standards of the construction industry.
GRP is common in a wide variety of products. Some of the most notable uses of GRP are access solutions, including GRP ladders, handrails, and grated flooring. Fibreglass access solutions such as ladders and handrails are common across construction, rail, water and power sectors.
Why Choose GRP
GRP is a versatile material. It can meet the demands required of load-bearing structures whilst offering many valuable properties which help maintain the highest health and safety standards. And it is often more cost-effective than alternative materials, partially due to its long life span. The savings add up further as it is lightweight and, therefore, easier and cheaper to move and install. Its weather-resistant properties make it suitable for outdoor use too. Plus, you can reap all of these benefits without compromising strength. GRP is actually stronger than many other materials.