December 5, 2021
Industry News

Deadly Dangers Of Parking Structures

Conventional repairs to steel-reinforced parking garage can cost millions, but a failing structure is a potentially deadly issue - FRP composites can help lower the cost.

The Looming Perils of Parking Structures: Time to Consider FRP

Back in November 2008, near Montreal, Canada, a multi-story parking structure suffered a devastating partial collapse. Tragically, a Ville St. Laurent resident lost their life in the incident. The primary cause of the collapse was the failure of the steel reinforcing rebar within the concrete slabs that constituted the parking garage.

Instances of such partial collapses are not confined to Canada; they pose real concerns across the United States and worldwide. As a result, many construction contractors are turning to a futuristic material to mitigate the risks of parking structure collapses and reduce the frequency of repairs, potentially saving billions over these structures' lifespans.

The Advantages of FRP in Concrete Slabs

Enter FRP, or Fiber-Reinforced Plastic, the material poised to replace steel rebar in new parking structures. Several factors make it an appealing alternative to steel:

  • FRP is non-corrosive, standing strong against the effects of humidity and corrosion caused by rock salt during winter, in stark contrast to steel.
  • FRP offers double or even triple the tensile strength of steel at the same diameter.
  • With a reduced elasticity of 20-35% (compared to steel's 60-75%), FRP effectively curbs concrete sagging.
  • Studies have indicated that slabs reinforced with FRP composites can use less concrete, delivering both cost savings and a reduction in the overall structure's weight.

While research on FRP materials for concrete slabs in parking structures is ongoing, initial data is highly promising, and many experts firmly believe that FRP composites can offer a superior, safer, and more cost-effective alternative to steel rebar.

Comparing the Costs of FRP Composite to Black Steel Rebar

On a one-to-one basis, FRP composite rebar is pricier than its steel counterpart. However, when evaluating it as a comprehensive construction solution, the cost of FRP is significantly lower. This is because steel rebar requires waterproofing and an additional layer of asphalt to guard against premature degradation due to moisture. FRP rebar, being non-corrosive, eliminates the need for these extra protective layers, making the overall cost of a concrete slab reinforced with FRP more economical.

Furthermore, the thinner and lighter nature of FRP-reinforced concrete, in contrast to steel-reinforced concrete, translates to reduced strength and density requirements for supporting concrete columns. This results in less concrete needed for each column, significantly decreasing expenses across the board.


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