Choosing the right material for your projects can make a big difference in the finished outcome, the durability of your finished structure or equipment, and what kind of natural conditions it can handle.
The trick is that many people don't know much about the different material options or the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Here’s what you need to know to choose between fiberglass and steel for your next project.
Fiberglass – When Is Fiberglass The Best Material?
Fiberglass is a fantastic choice for many projects and can have some important advantages over steel alternatives. Fiberglass is surprisingly versatile and effective. It’s corrosion resistant, usually lighter, can be produced faster, and allows for more details than other materials.
For some purposes, like chemical tanks, piping, and fuel or chemical and gas containment, fiberglass works significantly better than alternatives.
If you’re worried about the budget for your project, fiberglass is also usually a more affordable alternative. Additionally, it also provides better insulation than steel.
On the flip side of that, fiberglass doesn’t hold up as well in rough conditions or with too much wear and tear as steel. While it can be hardened with specific coatings and designed for different durability ratings, sometimes you need something a bit sturdier.
Because of fiberglass’s added details and insulation, it can often be the most versatile of these three. That helps make more projects possible while keeping costs and weight down so you can focus on the other details while we make what you need.
Stainless Steel – When You Need Durability
Stainless is probably the best-known form of steel and can be used in a wide range of applications. It’s highly heat resistant, durable, and handles outdoor conditions well.
However, it can also be heavier, less corrosion-resistant than fiberglass, and more expensive.
Often, it’s important to consider whether durability or weight are the most important considerations for a project. If weight is a limiting factor, it might be worth replacing an item more often to get the weight benefits of fiberglass. But if weight isn’t a concern, or durability is a bigger concern, stainless steel might be a good option.
Carbon Steel – Heavy-Duty Uses
Carbon steel is another option, which has some advantages over stainless but can also be more expensive. It handles outdoor conditions even better than stainless steel, doesn’t rust, and can withstand a ton of wear and tear.
Carbon steel also handles friction well. It can heat up without being damaged, so it’s not an issue to let carbon steel be exposed to sunlight, and it’s often longer lasting than stainless.
However, carbon steel weighs slightly more than stainless steel and significantly more than fiberglass.
The good news is that carbon steel is also generally more affordable than stainless steel, making it a more budget-friendly option with many of the same properties and advantages as stainless.
Often, it’s important to consider the scope of the project and whether durability or weight are the most important considerations. If weight is a limiting factor, it might be worth replacing an item more often to get the weight benefits of fiberglass. But if weight isn’t a concern, or durability is a bigger concern, stainless or carbon steel might be a good option.
If you’re still unsure about whether to use fiberglass or steel, we can help!
Need Something Made?
Whether you're in the market to have something made for your next project or need to replace aging equipment, look no further than Painted Rhino. Contact us with information about your project and your needs, and we’ll be happy to send you a quote!