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29 Sep 2017

FRP Handrails Vs Traditional Handrails

FRP products
The fibre reinforced polymer has found many applications in the industrial field. FRP products have become ubiquitous in the urban landscape with pipes and cable trays and other products seen as parts of constructions. But FRP products are more than just conduits for liquids and cables. With their strength, they can be made into bigger structures as well.

FRP can be molded into larger structures like gratings, fences and handrails. FRP handrails are slowly gaining visibility in places where typical construction material cannot work. It has given the industrial sector a perfect alternative for their structures, one that is resistant to corrosion and heat. Its ability to be installed at any kind of environment makes it a highly suitable material.

Why is FRP better than traditional handrail material?

Although traditional material like wood, steel and concrete are still more commonly seen, FRP is now emerging as an alternative material. It is more durable and better able to sustain wear and tear. Metals like steel needs heavy maintenance because it can scale, rust and slowly deteriorate. In relatively corrosive environments like industries, this deterioration will only increase. FRP, on the other hand, is corrosion-resistant, not eating to chemicals or moisture. FRP handrails are also ideal for high heat environments like cooling towers where metals will have a corrosive reaction to high heat. FRP shows no reaction.

The other advantage of FRP is its lightweight. Much lighter than either concrete or wood, FRP is also lighter than steel, almost a seventh of its weight! This is a big positive where installations are to be carried out at a height. Because of its lightweight FRP handrails can be easily lifted. Compare this with concrete or even steel, which will require special equipment for just taking the handrail up to a height. Other materials also need special tools for installation where FRP handrails can be fixed with simple carpenter tools.

Quick installation:
FRP manufacturer pre-fabricate railings in the factory before taking these to the site. The fabrication is done according to customer and site specifications to ensure that the railings are a perfect fit. The entire process takes much less time than steel or concrete, which must be dried. We can also get pre-fabricated sheets that can be used immediately.

Better UV resistance:
All things fade under the sun, even fiber-reinforced polymer. However, in case of metal railings, the faded paint directly affects its durability. This is because the paint layer protects the underlying metal. Without this protection, the metal becomes even more susceptible to corrosion from moisture, heat and chemicals. FRP products, on the other hand, have a polyester surface veil. The paint here is not just on the surface, but all the way through the material. This gives it a much better resistance to UV rays, increasing its durability.

Because fibreglass is lighter, it is often considered to lack in strength when compared to other metals. However, that is far from reality. Despite its lightweight it is much stronger than steel. Moreover, fibreglass railings show a ‘memory’, meaning it will get back to position after a slight bend due to overloading. Steel railings once bent, even slightly, will remain bent.

Metal railings require regular maintenance with their tendency to rust and peel away. This means regular inspections and repairs. Even then they will not last long in a corrosive environment. In contrast, FRP handrails require almost no maintenance and can still stay good for a number of years.

When it comes to cost, FRP falls somewhere in between the cheaper varieties of steel and the more expensive treated alloys. However, FRP can ultimately prove much cheaper than even the cheaper varieties. It has a much more durable life, meaning your investment will last long. Lightweight also means that it has low shipping costs. Coupled with low installation and maintenance costs, the overall price comes down further.

Easily adjusted:
The lightweight of FRP handrails has an unexpected benefit their ability to be easily adjusted. We can remove and realign railings as and when required without any fuss. We can build a temporary platform with handrails in the middle of the sea and then dismantle it without any fuss. All this with basic equipment and little effort!