Reinforced Concrete: Challenges and Solutions



Some of the world’s oldest structures such as the Pantheon in Rome are still intact or partially damaged after thousands of years. Yet a large number of modern concrete structures from the 20th Century are crumbling and deemed structurally deficient. So many concrete structures built in this decade will become obsolete before the end of the 21st Century. The major difference is the use of steel as a concrete reinforcement material. This is why the need for strengthening and retrofitting of existing structures is in large demand.

Concrete cancer

The main ingredient in steel is iron and one of iron’s characteristics is that it corrodes. The corrosion of concrete reinforcement damages the durability of structures in a way which is hard to detect and expensive to repair. When steel was first introduced as a reinforcement material, civil engineers thought reinforced concrete structures would sustain a long service life. Unfortunately, the expectations were far from reality.

Corrosive agents like moisture enter through thousands of small cracks and accelerate the electrochemical reaction. Rust makes steel rebar expand up to four times its size tearing the concrete apart.

The affordability of traditional reinforcement materials like plain steel is attractive to civil contractors. However, they fail to evaluate the extended repair and maintenance costs. Billions of dollars are annually spent on structural rehabilitation. There are various techniques which can slow down the corrosion process in concrete. However, none of these technologies can resolve corrosion issues.

Economic cost of rebuilding

In the United States, the annual cost of repair, strengthening and maintenance of concrete structures is between $18 and $21 billion. The world needs sustainable construction materials so that concrete production can be reduced. Building long-lasting concrete infrastructure is the only way to resolve many environmental and economic problems associated with civil engineering in relation to concrete production.

Thousands of structurally deficient bridges in North America show us the consequences of short-term planning and prioritizing affordability over sustainability. We need to go for construction materials that can stand the test of time and save money over the long run.


The application of fiberglass reinforced polymers (FRPs) in civil engineering has produced remarkable results. Also called advanced composites, these materials are inherently strong, corrosion-free and lightweight. The construction industry should increasingly use fiberglass-reinforced materials to build critical concrete structures such as bridges, rail support, LRT, medical and IT facilities, waterside structures and more.


TUF-BAR is a company well-known for its premium quality GFRP fiberglass rebar and accessories. We manufacture and sell fiberglass products in Canada and across North America. Contact us to learn more about our products and how they can help you build sustainable and environmentally-friendly construction projects.