Whenever you build something, you want it to last. Rebar used in concrete does just that. Short for “reinforcing bar,” rebar refers to cylindrical bars made out of metal, most often steel, that are embedded in concrete pours and forms to add strength and stability to the concrete. Rebar is utilized in curbs, concrete buildings, driveways and walkways, and other concrete structures. It improves the concrete’s tensile strength and prevents cracking, extending the life of the concrete structure significantly. However, rebar is not always necessary in every concrete project, and there are other good alternatives.

When Rebar is Necessary

Using rebar will improve the structural integrity of any concrete structure, helping it to withstand heavy loads and stresses over time. However, rebar is not always necessary.

It’s generally recommended to use rebar if you are pouring concrete that is more than five inches thick. If your concrete is less than five inches in depth, then rebar is not necessary. However, many still choose to use rebar or an alternative.

Rebar Alternatives

There are a handful of alternatives to steel rebar. Each is going to have its own benefits and drawbacks. Rebar alternatives include:

Wire Mesh/Expandable Metal: Wire mesh offers a measure of strength and durability for concrete, such as in a concrete driveway. One of the advantages is that it’s cheaper than rebar.

Welded Wire Fabric: This product, which looks similar to welded wire fencing, is generally used in slab-on-ground-slabs where the slabs are installed on compacted ground.  

Stainless Steel Rebar: If you’ve ever seen rebar sticking out of broken concrete, chances are likely that it was rusty. Stainless steel rebar is resistant to corrosion, making it a desirable option for areas with high corrosion, such as near saltwater and on bridges where salt is used as a deicer. It is more expensive than standard steel rebar. 

Sheet Metal: Sheet metal can also be used to reinforce concrete like rebar, and it is often used in concrete roofs, floors, and stairs. 

Epoxy Coated Rebar: This rebar is coated with an epoxy, making it even more resistant to corrosion than any other option. It also makes it the most expensive option.

Other Options: There’s been a lot of research into developing alternatives to steel rebar, especially in places where steel is not readily available. Other options include materials like glass, synthetic polymers, natural fibers like bamboo or cellulose, and bars or strips made from high strength fibers such as carbon.

Choosing which is the best option for your concrete project will depend on your specific project requirements, your budget, your local building codes, and the loads your concrete project will need to handle. Trust a professional with extensive experience in the industry, like Tucker Paving, to guide your project and ensure your concrete projects longevity and stability.

Tucker Paving has nearly 30 years of experience in the concrete and asphalt paving construction industry. We offer concrete paving as well as many other concrete construction. Call us at (863) 299-2262, or contact us online, for your concrete project.