Rebar can be invaluable to construction projects, providing the necessary support for concrete structures. Concrete has great compressive strength but weak tensile strength – rebar can be used to reinforce the concrete by increasing its overall tensile strength.
Because rebar must be used in so many situations and for so many structures, there are a variety of different types of rebar, coming in all sorts of sizes and materials. With so many different types to choose from, how can anyone know which type is best for their specific project?
In this article, I outline seven of these types of rebar and describe the pros and cons of using each. That should help you choose the kind of rebar that works best for your project.
7 Types of Rebar
Before continuing, keep in mind that here, besides talking about actual rebar, I also list one of its alternatives, wire mesh.
Anyways, let’s jump into the list.
Carbon Steel Rebar
Also known as “black bar” or tempered steel rebar, this is the most common type of rebar because of its adaptability to a number of different types of construction projects. Carbon steel rebar is also very inexpensive relative to its tensile strength, which makes it an ideal candidate to use for many simple construction projects.
But although its versatility and relatively cheap cost are certainly great advantages, this type of rebar also corrodes very easily, making it less optimal for structures that are exposed to water or high levels of humidity.
Also known as “green rebar,” this type is carbon steel rebar has an added epoxy coat which helps to increase its resistance to corrosion. This greater resistance to corrosion allows epoxy-coated rebar to be an ideal candidate for certain locations—such as bridges and structures near saltwater—which aren’t suitable for carbon steel rebar.
Epoxy-coated rebar is less likely to rust, so it is able to withstand placement within these marine environments. Despite this, the coating used on this type of rebar can easily be damaged in transport because it is somewhat delicate, so great care has to be taken in handling this type correctly.
This type of rebar is, once again, more resistant to corrosion than the more common carbon steel rebar, but is less resistant than epoxy-coated rebar. Galvanized rebar is created by adding a zinc coating to the original steel rebar, which then is subjected to a plating process to seal this coating and allow the rebar to better withstand corrosion than the typical carbon steel rebar.
Although it does provide less protection from rust than epoxy-coated rebar, galvanized rebar does have an advantage over epoxy-coated, in that its coating is much less easy to damage. That being said, galvanized rebar is also more expensive than epoxy-coated rebar, so even though it can be used in structures exposed to water or high levels of humidity, it may not be the top choice for many people.
This type of rebar is both cheap and very easy to bend because it is made of manganese.
Because of its low cost, this type of rebar could be ideal for more expensive projects; however, it is not recommended that this type of rebar be used for any structure which might be subject to severe natural conditions. That’s especially the case with or strong winds like those from hurricanes or tornadoes.
Because this rebar bends so easily, it may not allow for the greatest amount of structural integrity needed to sustain certain construction projects.
Also called fiberglass rebar, this type of rebar cannot be bent. It is also very expensive. Despite these disadvantages, fiberglass rebar is very lightweight and durable.
Composed of interlaced glass fibers wrapped within a fiberglass resin, this type of rebar cannot corrode from exposure to the elements, including to saltwater. Its resistance to corrosion is in fact considered unmatched in comparison to any other type of rebar.
Stainless Steel Rebar
Stainless steel rebar is highly expensive, but unlike fiberglass rebar, this type of rebar can be bent. In addition, it is also highly resistant to rust and other forms of corrosion. As its name implies, this type of rebar is made of stainless steel instead of carbon steel.
This material is much more apt to withstanding any corrosive elements it may face, so although the initial cost of may be high, it has been suggested that the overall savings it allows in terms of maintenance and repairs make stainless steel rebar a viable competitor against the previously listed types of rebar.
While perhaps not technically rebar—as it is known more typically by the term “Welded Wire Fabric,” or WWF—this material can also be useful for reinforcing concrete in certain structures.
As suggested by the name, this material is a net of thin metal wires arranged to form a grid pattern. This material can be ideal for smaller projects such as sidewalks and concrete slabs.
What Is the Best Type of Rebar?
Clearly, no one type of rebar is superior over any other kind. The best type of rebar for your project is entirely dependent upon what that project is, where the structure will be located, and how much you are willing to spend.
Carbon steel rebar is by far the most commonly used for construction projects, but if you are building in a wet or humid climate, or in an area prone to earthquakes or other forms of severe weather, then epoxy-coated or galvanized rebar may be the better choice. That’s because these types of rebar are more resistant to corrosion but also more inexpensive than stainless steel or fiberglass rebar.
For smaller projects, as with small outdoor walkways or patios, wire mesh may make a good choice. European steel could be a good choice for projects requiring an easily bendable, but not necessarily sturdy type of rebar—perhaps for use in the garden.
Finally, If you are willing to spend quite a bit of money, want to have a structure that lasts and does not require a great number of repairs over the long-haul, then stainless steel rebar is a great choice.
There truly are so many different types of rebar to choose from. Here I have listed some of the most common types.
Next time you are planning a project involving rebar, be sure to glance over this guide to make sure you are making the best choice!