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What problems can FRP solve that steel can't?

Updated: Oct 28, 2022

FRP is short for “Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer,” and it solves many problems in the construction and maintenance industry. Some refer to FRP as "Fiber-reinforced Plastic," but there is a difference between the two. While traditional building materials (i.e., wood, steel, aluminum, etc.) have their place in the construction industry, FRP shines in harsh chemical and corrosive environments.

FRP is made from a combination of polyester or Vinyl ester and fiberglass mat. It can also consist of additives like pigments, UV inhibitors, and fire retardants. Finally, it will have “surface veil, which enhances corrosion resistance, UV protection, and appearance.”[1]

Say a manufacturing facility utilizes harsh chemicals for its processing system. For example, polyesters and vinyl esters composing FRP have strong acid resistance and will prevent spills or leaks with routine maintenance. However, if steel is the material of choice, the acid will eat away at the structure and present serious safety issues to the facility, workforce, and environment.

With safety and sustainability in mind, underground fuel tanks, pipes, and containment areas used by gas stations and chemical manufacturing facilities utilize FRP / Fiberglass Tanks. While the fuel tanks may not contain acid, there can be an acidic attack which “can come indirectly in soil, especially from anaerobic sulfate-reducing bacteria, which form hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and ferrous ion (Fe2+).”[2]

PlasTech field technicians have performed Fiberglass Tank relines and repair services on tanks that hold and process acidic elements. In several cases, the maintenance of the tanks and process piping had been neglected to the point that the acidic material had leaked onto the steel beams, causing erosion. In some cases, the acidic elements eroded structural steel beams in half.

While wood decomposes and steel is susceptible to decay, FRP is not only able to withstand harsh environments but is lighter and stronger than steel at a fragment of the weight. In addition, it is insect resistant and will not conduct electricity, so it is a go-to choice for utility companies like BGE, Dominion Power, Exelon, and Altec. We perform dozens of fiberglass repair and restoration services throughout the year for utility companies in and around Maryland.

FRP can also be utilized for flooring called “grating.” In some cases, the grating can be made of steel, but FRP grating is dynamically different and simply a better option for several reasons. FRP can withstand harsh chemicals, it is easily repaired, and it is lightweight for an easier installation.

Have you ever tried lifting and installing a 4ft x 4ft piece of steel grating? Good luck. However, when it comes to FRP, it can easily be transported and installed. The Baltimore Aquarium, where we have had the unique opportunity to perform fiberglass service, has 2-inch-thick fiberglass grating because of its unique properties and 30-year service life with minimal maintenance.

FRP gives engineers options to solve design challenges with long-term maintenance cost savings and short-term installation savings. On an important final note, we strongly recommend leaving the installation, repair, and maintenance up to the professionals like us. FRP requires harsh chemicals and specific installation techniques to function correctly. If not handled properly, these harsh chemicals and installation or repair areas can present life-threatening circumstances to those in and around the area.

In summary, what problems does FRP solve that steel can't?

  • FRP solves the Chemical Resistance Problem

  • FRP solves the repair difficulty problem

  • FRP solves the supply chain problem

  • FRP solves the weight problem

  • FRP solves the installation problem

  • FRP solves the Corrosion resistance problem

  • FRP solves the fabrication difficulty problem

BOTTOM LINE: FRP is a quality choice for engineers, construction professionals, Chemical Manufacturers, Paper Mills and Paper Manufacturers, Oil and Gas Industry, Tank Storage, and many more.

If you are interested in exploring the engineering capabilities of FRP or need an FRP / Fiberglass expert for maintenance, installation, or repair, please contact us at or 410-737-4700. Our experts are on standby to reduce downtime, cut costs, and boost productivity to keep facilities running longer.


[1] Bedford Plastics. “15 Key Facts About FRP.” Bedford Reinforced Plastics. February 18th, 2017.

[2] Reichhold, Inc. “FRP Material Selection Guide.” Reichhold, Inc. Research Triangle Park, NC. 2009.

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