10 Benefits of Glass-fibre Reinforced Concrete

Are you looking for a cutting-edge building material that’s strong and durable yet lightweight? Or maybe you’re after a cost-effective and more sustainable alternative to pre-cast concrete? You should consider using glass-fibre reinforced concrete (GRC) for your next project.

Used across Australia for over 40 years, GRC is nothing new, but the benefits of this building material are undeniably attractive to this day. With its ability to cast in almost any style or shape, GRC can be used to replicate traditional, historic features or create modern, futuristic designs.

Glass-fibre reinforced concrete advantages

GRC is a truly unique and highly adaptable material with a number of advantages.

1. Lightweight

Perhaps the flagship advantage of GRC is its weight. In fact, GRC is up to 75% lighter than its pre-cast concrete equivalent!

This property lends itself to a whole range of additional advantages, from being more cost-effective to increased sustainability.

2. Strong

The key advantage of GRC is its weight-to-strength ratio, which is why its use is becoming increasingly popular in construction and architecture. Compared to traditional steel-reinforced concrete, GRC is three to four times stronger. 

This strength comes from the short-length glass fibres mixed into the material. The more fibres in the mix, the stronger it is.  GRC is classified by flexural strength or Modulus of Rupture (MOR). A typical mix of 5% glass fibres will achieve a MOR range of 21-30 Mpa.

These fibres also work to reduce loading and bearings on a structure overall. This means that less GRC is required in a construction while still imparting the same strength as comparable materials.

3. Durable

More than just strong, GRC is also durable. It’s built to withstand a range of environments and stands up better than concrete in most scenarios. GRC is so durable that it’s been known to withstand hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and floods. 

GRC is:

  • Non-permeable, or water-resistant
  • Flexible, so less likely to crack under pressure and will lengthen when stretched
  • Resistant to seismic activity and harsh weather conditions

4. Non-combustible and fire-resistant

Unlike pre-cast concrete, GRC is non-combustible and fire-resistant. This resistance is so strong that it can even protect the materials behind it in case of fire.

This makes GRC a highly advantageous material for constructions that may be at a greater risk of fire.

5. Sustainable

Increasingly, we’re looking for sustainable alternatives for building materials. GRC is a more sustainable material than conventional concrete, making it the building material of the future. A study in the UK found that GRC had a 60% less environmental impact compared to its pre-cast concrete equivalent.

The components used in GRC are low-toxicity and don’t have a negative impact on the environment or ecosystems where they are used. It is also made of recycled materials such as sand and water.

Creating GRC uses less natural resources and produces less waste compared to traditional concrete too. While the lightweight property of GRC also means transporting it to the construction site is less impactful on the environment.

advantages of grc

6. Versatile

GRC is more than just structurally sound, it’s also versatile in its appearance too. Available in a range of colours, finishes and textures, GRC can be used across a range of projects to appear like:

  • Concrete
  • Natural stone
  • Terracotta
  • Wood
  • Smooth panels

This versatility makes it great for renovations to existing buildings as it can often match the material already in place.

Beyond the surface appearance, GRC can be moulded into a variety of shapes, even complex and intricate ones thanks to its casting flexibility.

7. Acoustic design

On top of enhanced structure and aesthetics, GRC is also a great option for acoustic design. GRC can be cast and moulded with specific acoustic controls in mind:

  • Cast to absorb sounds from outdoors and muffle distractions
  • Enhance sound with pitted and textured surfaces
  • Amplify sound so it can be heard everywhere

These can all be combined to create superior sound management using GRC such as in schools, concert halls and churches.

8. Low-maintenance

GRC is low-maintenance in comparison to other building materials. Not only is GRC water and fire-resistant which contributes to its durability, it is also resistant to rot and termites too. A little water from a hose and sprayer is all you need to clear the dust and grime from GRC and keep it in top condition.

Built to withstand anything you throw at it, from fire to torrential rain, GRC is the long-term solution for any construction project.

9. Simpler, safer and faster installations

There are a number of reasons why GRC is easier, safer and faster to install than its concrete counterparts. Primarily, this is due to it being much more lightweight. Workers are less likely to hurt themselves carrying GRC and its components around.

Unlike concrete, GRC installation isn’t weather-dependent – rain, wind or shine, you can install GRC anytime. 

10. Cost-effective

The combination of GRC’s high strength, light weight, durability, low-maintenance and ease of installation make for a cost-effective building material. Using GRC for a construction means you save on labour costs. The increased strength imparted on a structure with GRC means you can often cut back on other building materials that might have been required for the structure’s strength.

You’ll also save when it comes to the ongoing costs thanks to GRC’s greater durability and low-maintenance nature.

benefits of glass-fibre reinforced concrete

Disadvantages of glass-fibre reinforced concrete

The main disadvantage of glass-fibre reinforced concrete is that it is more expensive when compared to concrete at face value. This doesn’t account for the savings you make elsewhere, however, the higher quality of GRC compared to typical concrete and the long list of advantages above.

What applications does glass-fibre reinforced concrete have?

Thanks to the many advantages of GRC, it has a wide range of applications, including

  • Building renovations
  • Heritage restorations
  • Water and drainage solutions
  • Panel lining on bridges and tunnels
  • Cladding
  • Acoustic barriers
  • Intricate building work
  • Architectural façades
  • Three-dimensional elements
glass-fibre reinforced concrete building and architecture