How to Choose the Right Type of Bollard

Are all bollards created equal? A bollard is a bollard, right? A piece of pipe is a piece of pipe, right?
Well… not really. There are different diameters, different wall thicknesses of steel, and different manufacturing methods. When comparing bollards for not only price but utility, there are several factors to look at. What is the application that I will be using for the bollard? To stop a car, truck or fast moving vehicle, or just a traffic deterrent? Do I need it installed permanently? Do I need it to be removable? Is there enough space below grade to install the bollard? A lot to consider. Here are some of the various elements to consider when choosing the right type of bollard.

Steel Pipe

There’s carbon steel and stainless steel. There’s Schedule 10, 20, 40, 80, XH and many more. Those are just a few of the wall thickness’ you can get in a pipe.

Pipe comes in black or plain pipe, stainless steel, galvanized, primed for painting or powder coated. But, the most important thing to consider is what size, style and wall thickness of bollard do I need?

Typically, bollards come in various diameters with a Schedule 40 wall thickness. That wall thickness will vary depending on the diameter of the bollard. In some higher security applications, the wall thickness will be Schedule 80 or XH for “extra heavy”. Schedule 10 is basically for stainless steel bollard covers that go over a larger and thicker piece of pipe. You can save money by having a thinner walled stainless steel cover as opposed to a thick walled stainless steel bollard.

To simplify it, compare apples to apples. Why would you pay someone $200.00, for example, for a bollard that is only .180″ thick, when for the same price or less, you could get one that is .237″ thick? .180″ thickness will not stop much of anything. .237″ will. For the same money or less.

Embedment Sleeves

The same question applies for embedment sleeves. Why would you pay more for an embedment sleeve that has a stainless steel top and a galvanized bottom when you can pay less for an all stainless steel embedment sleeve? Putting anything in the ground that is not stainless steel or that has a zinc epoxy coat is just asking for rust.

What about the lid on the embedment sleeve? If it’s hinged, forget about it. It will break as soon as a car tire turns on it. The best hinge is a floating hinge. It doesn’t break.

To Galvanized or not to Galvanize

Even galvanized bollards will rust. If they get scratched, not only will the scratch rust, but it will spider underneath the galvanization and rust. I am not a big fan of galvanized pipe. You don’t have galvanized pipes anymore in your home. Why? Because they rust. Galvanized pipes were great in the early 1900’s, but they just don’t work in today’s environments. Also, galvanization is expensive and not environmentally sound. I have seen projects that are trying to be LEED certified but have galvanized bollards… which doesn’t make much sense.

There are some companies that plainly state what type of bollard they are selling. There are some companies that do not. When you know the facts and what to look for in a bollard as well as an embedment sleeve, you will be able to make an informed decision and get the best possible spend for your money. Not to mention the best protection for your assets that your money could buy. Cheapest is not always the worst, and the most expensive is not always the best.

So, to summarize, compare the wall thickness of the bollard you want. Make sure your embedment sleeve is 100% stainless steel, and make sure your pipe IS NOT galvanized. By doing those 3 things, you will get the right bollard for the right application and most likely save some money too.

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