Introduction to Fiberglass

Today, fiberglass is a common material used in  hundreds if not thousands of applications around the world. It is found in everything from Kayaks to surfboards, auto bodies and wind turbines, to name a few uses for this strong, light weight material.

In the construction industry fiberglass is commonly found in canopies, dormers, chimneys as an insulator. It is lighter than wood or glass, making it easier to handle and integrate into construction projects.

Fiberglass is a relative newcomer to the construction environment as it has only been around since the mid 1930’s when a method for the manufacture of fiberglass was developed by Owens corning. With the introduction of polyester resins by DuPont in the 1940’s it became possible to combine these resins with the glass fibers to create a material that was not only light, but strong enough to be used in boat hulls and airplane components.

Today, we find fiberglass as the primary component for bathtubs, septic tanks, roofing and external door skins as it is stronger than many types of metals, wood or other man made materials.

Advantages of Fiberglass

  • On a per weight basis, fiberglass is stronger than sheet metal and is corrosion resistant. This makes it an ideal substitute for sheet metal in regions where salt water or chemicals can cause rusting of metals.
  • There are many different types of fiberglass compositions and they can be configured with resins that are fire resistant and will not burn when exposed to flame.
  • Fiberglass is easy to mold into various configurations. This provides designers with a free hand to create architecture that is not only structurally sound but creative and visually appealing.
  • Cost is often another advantage. Shipping charges for fiberglass are much lower than steel or wood product as there is much less weight involved. Additionally, fiberglass prices have been very stable over the last decades without the fluctuations we often see in steel and other ferrous and non-ferrous materials. While not as strong as some of the new carbon fiber composites, it is less brittle and significantly cheaper than this family of materials.
  • When compared to metals, plastics or wood, fiberglass expands and contracts less during large swings in the ambient temperature. This can be very important in certain environments where precise fit is required.
  • Fiberglass is not a conductor of electricity and does not block radio waves such as mobile phone signals. It also is a good sound deadener that can be important in homes that are near lots of traffic or other noise sources.