Reinforcing bars, shortened to rebars, function as tension devices to boost the tensile strength of masonry structures and concrete. Different types of rebar have varying strengths, weaknesses and identifying characteristics.
Explore the various types of rebar and the applications that suit them best.
There are various types of rebar made with different materials and grades to give them distinct properties. The following are a few of the common kinds of rebar and the purposes they serve:
Carbon steel rebar, also called black rebar because of its dark carbon color, is the most popular type of reinforcing bar for commercial and residential applications. This type of rebar has impressive tensile strength and is suitable for supporting concrete and building structures.
While it is highly durable and relatively cost-effective compared to alternative materials, it does have some drawbacks. Carbon steel rebar is not ideal for environments with high moisture content because it's prone to rust and corrosion unless treated with a protective coating.
Epoxy-coated rebar is carbon steel rebar with a thick epoxy outer layer intended to combat corrosion and protect the steel inside.
This type of rebar offers the same exceptional tensile strength as carbon steel rebar but is better equipped to resist the difficulties of humid and moist environments. However, it can still be subject to corrosion and rusting if there is damage to the epoxy coating.
Epoxy-coated rebar is used in several different applications, including:
European rebar is also known as manganese-based rebar. Because manganese is a relatively weak mineral that bends easily, this type of rebar is not suitable for applications in regions that experience extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes or earthquakes.
While it is easy to work with, European rebar does not have the strength or resilience to support heavy-duty concrete or applications requiring substantial structural integrity. However, it is quite inexpensive and can serve well in lighter-duty builds.
Expanded metal rebar has a mesh pattern to resemble the diamond-shaped structures of a chain-link fence, and it is very similar to welded wire fabric rebar.
To create the mesh for expanded metal rebar, the manufacturer uses a single sheet of steel, then cuts the material and stretches it out.
Expanded metal rebar is a go-to option when utilizing thick plaster layers to support concrete for things like sidewalks and paths. This particular type of rebar is not strong enough to support heavy-duty applications like a highway or a parking structure.
Galvanized rebar is one of the most expensive types of rebar. It is made with an alloy steel that is hot-dipped into a specialized zinc solution used to prevent rust and corrosion on steel surfaces. The dipping process creates a protective coating that helps the steel resist damage due to moisture exposure.
This type of rebar is often preferred over epoxy-coated rebar options because its outer coating is more effective in protecting the inner steel. It is often used for supporting transportation infrastructure.
Glass fiber-reinforced polymer rebar, also called fiberglass rebar, has one of the greatest tensile strengths compared to other popular types.
Because glass fibers are not susceptible to corrosion, this rebar is a go-to option for applications involving environments prone to heavy water exposure. The material is also lighter than steel, making it easier to work with and less expensive to ship.
Stainless steel rebar is a common alternative to carbon steel rebar, and the two are very similar.
This type tends to be more expensive than black rebar, but still a good choice for applications involving weight-supporting structures. Some of the most common uses of stainless steel rebar include supporting the following:
Stainless steel is inherently resistant to corrosion and is a great option for many applications, though it tends to be more expensive.
Welded wire fabric rebar is made from steel wire with a low carbon content. It is slightly different than other types of rebar because of its design. This type is similar to expanded metal rebar and can be used to reinforce heavy concrete slabs.
Unlike the diamond pattern of expanded metal rebar, welded wire fabric rebar is structured like a grid.
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