GRP Vs steel – which is best?

Every material has its place but two that frequently vie for the top spot are GRP and steel.

Steel has long been used to construct industrial flooring, walkways, stairs and platforms but, increasingly, it is being replaced by GRP alternatives.

But what actually is GRP, and is it really a better option than traditional steel?

To help clear up the debate, here the team at HR Kilns lay out the facts to see what GRP offers that steel doesn’t.


What is GRP?

First, let’s be totally clear on what each material is. GRP stands for Glass Reinforced Plastic. It’s sometimes also referred to as fibreglass, composite glass or FRP.

GRP is a fibre reinforced polymer, otherwise known as a composite material. It is made from plastic which has been reinforced using fine fibres made from glass.


What is steel?

Historically viewed as the main contender, particularly in the construction industry, steel is an alloy of iron and carbon and is renowned for its strength and durability.


What does GRP have that steel doesn’t?

Both materials boast impressive strength – it’s one of the key reasons they are so popular. But, weighing in at up to 75% lighter than steel, GRP has a far higher strength to weight ratio, making it much easier to work with and offering huge advantages over steel.

And that’s not the only notable difference. GRP presents a number of other advantages too. They include:


  • Longevity – GRP is virtually maintenance free. Non-corrosive and able to withstand an impressively wide pH range, it can be used in virtually any environment, even those where harsh chemicals are used.


  • Versatility – adding to its list of attractive features is GRP’s adaptability. Not only can it be used for a huge number of applications, but GRP products can also be made with a gritted surface to offer excellent anti-slip qualities – ideal for walkways, step covers and handrails, especially where conditions are liable to become wet and potentially dangerous.


  • Cost-effective – the price of steel is prone to fluctuation, making it difficult to budget and plan for expenditures too far in advance. In comparison, the price of GRP is relatively stable. Long term it offers excellent cost savings, not least because of its longevity and minimal maintenance requirements, but also because it has the added advantage of holding little resale value once it’s fitted, so the risk of theft for resale is kept very low.


  • Manipulable – need to make changes on-site? No problem. Thanks to its lightweight quality, GRP is easy to work with and handle and can be cut and shaped on site to ensure you receive the perfect fit – no hot work required!


  • Non-conductive – steel is an effective conductor of electricity. Great if that’s what you’re after – deadly if it’s not! In many industrial environments, non-conductivity is a big safety advantage and one that you can bank on by using GRP alternatives.


So, which is best?

Let us be clear – we’re not anti-steel! We firmly believe every material has its pros and cons and these need assessing for each individual use. But, with many industrial applications – and particularly in the case of handrails, walkways and means of pedestrian access – GRP easily outperforms steel.


Order your GRP products today

Ready to make the switch to GRP? Then check out our extensive product range. With everything from platforms and walkways to handrails and moulded gratings, you’ll find all you need and more. To place your order, or to find out more about the benefit of GRP products from a member of the team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can call us on 01695 557 711, email or complete our contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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