Barrier Materials Compared: Plastic vs. Concrete vs. Steel Choices

Barriers are often used to keep people safe from possible dangers, but they can also be used to reroute traffic, direct guests, or keep people from getting into unsafe or secured areas. The main purpose of these structures is to keep people safe and avoid accidents.

Plastic, concrete, or steel can be used to make barriers. Each type of material has pros and cons that show how it stacks up against the others. This guide will help you understand each type of barrier material so that you can make a smart choice.

Comparing Different Barriers

Most barriers were made of concrete, but plastic and steel offered a great alternative. If you know the pros and cons of each, you can make an informed choice about which to use for your next building job.

Concrete Barriers

Concrete barriers require heavy machinery like cranes or specialized barrier-laying tools for installation. It is connected to the ground with nuts, connectors, and other tools. In this list, you will learn the pros and cons of concrete barriers.


These are some of the benefits of concrete barriers:

  • It is not easy to knock over.
  • Strong and great for long-term projects


Concrete barriers are not always the best choice:

  • It takes a long time to put them in and take them out.
  • The thing is big and heavy.
  • Compared to highly colored plastic barriers, it can be hard to see at night.
  • It is more likely for accidents to happen with concrete walls than with plastic or steel ones.

Barriers made of concrete work well on roads with slow to medium speeds. It works well when there is no work being done on the road near the fence.

Steel Barriers 

Steel barriers are anchored into the ground with asphalt pins, threaded rods with epoxy, or screw bolts. A steel barrier is “semi-rigid,” which means it breaks down more quickly when hit than concrete.


These are the good things about steel barriers:

  • Strength and life
  • Not prone to fire
  • Strong ability to hold weight
  • Customization well done
  • Very good modularity


Even though steel barriers have some good points, they also have some problems:

  • Setting it up is hard.
  • It needs to be cleaned often.
  • Needs structures to support it
  • Less freedom on the site

Steel barriers work best in places with a lot of high-speed traffic (up to 100 km/h). For medium- and long-term projects, it should be put in places where work is done close to the main road.

Plastic Barriers 

Plastic barriers are made of long-lasting polyethylene plastic and are often reinforced with steel wires to keep vehicles from getting into a work area. They are also strengthened with mechanisms that allow them to link to each other.


These are the good things about plastic barriers:

  • Easy to carry
  • Customizable
  • Lasting Power
  • Not as much work to do
  • It comes in different shades
  • Long-Term Success


In the meantime, here are some bad things about plastic barriers:

  • Take the impact of accidents on cars and drivers instead of deflecting them.
  • Sometimes, their bright colors can be a hindrance.
  • Not meant to be used in places with big machinery

Plastic barriers work best on roads where the speed limit is between 40 and 50 km/h, but not more than 70 km/h, based on the level of approval. They work best in places with little traffic that don’t need work close to the main road.

No Barrier Material Is Better Than The Other 

Each type of barrier material has its unique properties and ways of being made. Concrete barriers are made for low to medium speeds in urban areas and on main roads. Plastic barriers are for low speeds and low traffic in urban areas. On the other hand, steel barriers work best for medium to long-term projects on high-speed roads and in places with a lot of traffic.

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