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Pros and Cons of Fiber Mesh Concrete: Worth It?

Pros and Cons of Fiber Mesh Concrete
Written by Brent Butterworth

Fiber mesh concrete comprises natural and synthetic fibers like steel and glass. This type of material is used for patios, sidewalks, and driveways. Usually, a wire mesh is placed down first, and then the concrete is poured over it.

In the case of fiber mesh, the material fortifies the concrete throughout instead of just one plane. It will give the ground more resistance, but it is also known to lead to injury and corrode steel fibers over time.

When deciding whether to use fiber mesh concrete, you need to examine the advantages and disadvantages like that. We’re here to help with that!

Pros and Cons of Fiber Mesh Concrete

Pros

1. Helps with bleed water

Cement is typically made up of just a few ingredients – water, cement, sand, rock, or gravel. Since water is the lightest of all the elements, it tends not to be entirely absorbed by the cement. This will make extra water come up to the surface and pool. This is referred to as bleed water.

2. Holds concrete together longer

Temperature changes can result in cracking to happen as well as during the curing process where the evaporation of water can have cracks to occur. Fiber mesh doesn’t prevent cracks, but it holds the concrete intact, so it won’t crumble or fall apart.

3. Takes less time to use than wire mesh

Using the traditional wire mesh concrete means meticulous measuring to fit the cement pour. On the other hand, fiber mesh can be combined directly with the concrete mix, so you don’t have to measure it before pouring it out.

4. Helps prevent fire damage

Spalling is a term for when the surface of the concrete is heated up, forming steam and then exploding. Instead, the fiber mesh inside the concrete will melt, letting the water enlarge and track away from the heat. This will prevent spalling from happening.

5. Fiber mesh is more cost-effective

There are many things to keep in mind when determining how cost-effective fiber mesh is.

  • Material cost: What is the price of the product?
  • Cost to place: How much is it to put the material in place?
  • Handling cost: This includes storing, moving, and off-loading.
  • Concrete pump: What’s the cost?
  • Permanent support: How much will it be?

When comparing the above information, fiber mesh is much more cost-effective than wire mesh and macro synthetic fibers.

6. Better choice for certain projects

Different projects require different needs. There are instances where fiber mesh is the only way to go. If you need to construct something thin like a countertop or a small layer of pavement, fiber mesh is what you need to use.

Note: Reinforcements like wire mesh or rebar will not work for these projects.

7. Freeze-thaw resistance is better

We know that frozen water will expand. The water inside concrete is also known to freeze. This can cause pressure in the pores of the concrete, and eventually, it will break apart. Fiber mesh improves upon freeze-thaw better when nylon or polypropylene fibers are used in the mix.

8. Benefits of different fiber materials

i) Carbon fiber concrete

It’s low in weight, high in strength, and has a reasonable degree of chemical resistance. It is a durable and long-lasting choice for projects. The absence of corrosion is excellent for industrial places, especially where excessive acidity happens.

Carbon fiber is also known to repel salt and helps avoid damage from seawater.

ii) Blends of fiber concrete

You can accomplish the best type of fiber concrete by mixing different fibers. This could include glass and steel, depending on what attributes you need for your project.

iii) Natural fiber

Using natural fiber is not only efficient but also practical since it is very accessible. The natural fibers can include animals, minerals, or vegetables to be refined into non-woven material. This isn’t a new concept since people have been using straw and horsehair for bricks and mortar for years.

iv) Steel fiber concrete

Steel is always robust and durable. It is a great choice for numerous projects that require fiber concrete. Steel fiber impedes cracks from forming and endures frigid and hot temperatures that’s advantageous in industrial settings.

v) Cellulose fiber

Cellulose fibers are used in textile manufacturing for fabric reinforcement and as chemical filters. This is collected from cellulose, plants, and trees (leaves, bark, wood).

vi) Poly fiber

Poly fiber is a good alternative to using steel fiber. However, you should always consult with your structural engineer to determine the best material for your project.

a) Three-dimensional reinforcing

It has a flexible strength and prides itself on three-dimensional properties. It resists macro and microcracking, and the fibers make it immune to scratches. This material is known to stand up to even earthquakes.

b) Bending resistance/tensile equivalent to steel reinforcement

Poly fibers are equal to the usual steel reinforcing mesh. It boosts overall strength and durability.

c) Crack prevention

Many builders are switching from steel to poly-fiber because of how the material distributes itself. It stops micro-cracks from starting, whereas steel must be close to the micro-crack to cease further damage.

Cons

1. Creates a rough surface

When using fiber concrete, it’s challenging to produce a smooth surface. Some materials will show through on top and create a hairy or coarse exterior.

2. Causes injury

Fiber concrete is often made from sharp-edged materials. The material can make its way to the surface and cause harm to anyone touching or stepping on that area.

3. Not suitable for weight-bearing applications

Rebar is better at accommodating heavyweight and extreme movement (like earthquakes). Fiber mesh wouldn’t be utilized in a high-rise or parking structure.

4. Unevenly distributed fibers

The fibers are not guaranteed to mix evenly in the concrete. Some areas will have more fiber than other areas. This means some places will be considered high-fiber areas and others low-fiber places.

5. Steel fibers cause corrosion

Over time, corrosion will occur from the steel fibers. It will upset the durability and stamina of the concrete.

Steel fibers cause corrosion 

Micro-Fibers and Macro-Fibers: How They Differ

DOSAGE

MICRO

Standard dosage rate

0.5 to 3 pounds, PCY

MACRO

Standard dosage rate

3 pounds to 11 pounds, PCY

PURPOSE

MICRO

While concrete is still wet, it will reduce cracking on the surface. It also increases the strength and toughness. Can swap in for steel reinforcements.

MACRO

Improves the toughness of the concrete, reduces cracking (and if it does occur), diminishes the size of them.

DIAMETER

MICRO

Less than 580 denier (0.012 in)

Less than 0.30 mm

MACRO

580 denier (0.012 in) or greater

0.30 mm or greater

APPLICATIONS

MICRO

Use when concrete or slabs need to have a clean appearance and when the rate of evaporation is at a high level, where added toughness is required and or you need to change WWR 6×6-W1.4xW1.4 in, slabs.

MACRO

Steel Floor Decks

Precast Concrete

Shotcrete Bridge Decks

Concrete Pavements

Slabs-On-Ground Composite

APPROVALS

MICRO

ASTM C1116, Section 4.1.3 & Note 2

ICC ES AC32

ATSM D7508

ICC ESR-1699

ASTM D7508

MACRO

ASTM C1116, Section 4.1.3 & Note 2

ASTM D7508

ANSI/SDI C-2011 (alternative to WWR)

 

PRODUCTS

MICRO

FiberForce 100

FiberForce 150

FiberForce 300

FiberForce 500

MACRO

FiberForce 650

FiberForce 1000 HP

Performance Plus DOT

Macro Pro

FAQs

1. What type of fibers are used to reinforce concrete?

Ans. There are four options for you to use to strengthen and reinforce concrete, including glass fiber, steel fiber, synthetic and natural. If you use synthetic fiber, you must realize that your concrete will have macro or microfibers.

2. Is it acceptable to use the fiber method for concrete-related projects?

Ans. Fiber mesh is a great reinforcement material. It has a reasonable finishing time, is impact resistant, and isn’t as expensive as wire mesh. Some projects need fiber mesh (thin sidewalks or countertops).

3. Does fiber mesh replace rebar?

Ans. Fiber mesh is great for reducing cracking while the concrete sets. It is not a wire mesh or rebar replacement since they serve different functions. Although, some people have used the fiber mesh on sidewalks and patios.

4. Does fiber mesh create extra durability and strength to concrete?

Ans. Yes, fiber mesh provides strength to your concrete. It does this physically because it secures the concrete in place. This doesn’t mean that it will increase the compressive strength of the concrete.

About the author

Brent Butterworth

A Professional Woodworker & Custom Furniture Builder

Brent lives in Wisconsin and is a woodworker, custom cabinetmaker, interior consultant, and a freelance writer who got the opportunity to write several magazine articles for different publications on home improvement and woodworking. He’s always amazed at the depth and breadth of woodworking all over the globe, and feels proud to be a part of this great effort. Brent has built everything one can imagine, from unique art furniture to different types of home furniture to canoes and even a sailboat.

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