The 7 questions you’ve probably asked before choosing bollards for your project

Find answers to the most commonly asked questions about our products - get to know the basics of buying and installing bollards.

Published on: Aug 4th, 2021 02:23 PM

Often a forgotten piece of construction projects large and small, the right bollard can become the cornerstone of any landscape feature or architectural facade.

But just what product is right for you? Where should you start? It’s best to begin with the basics. To help you get started, we’ve compiled answers to the most commonly asked questions our team has received over the years.

#1 - When should bollards be considered?

Bollards are most commonly used as visual barriers tasked with outlining the borders between pedestrian and vehicular areas, as well as deterring unauthorized access. A majority of the products used for this function are not crash-rated.

Bollards should be considered any time there is a need for pedestrian, storefront or building impact protection. Depending on the nature of a project, documents will specify bollards’ required impact performance. We will explore crash ratings in further detail below.

In other cases, architects or landscape architects draw bollards into plans as a way to create aesthetically appealing ways to separate spaces. In some of these cases, bollards are purely decorative and provide no impact protection.

It’s the reality on most landscape projects that bollards feature both performance and aesthetic requirements. Removable bollards, like those outfitted with our newly patented Twist and Lock mount, can turn any streetscape into a flexible hybrid allowing users to modify pedestrian and vehicular usage according to a wider variety of use cases.

#2 - How much does it cost to install a bollard?

Below are some estimated baseline costs that a client may expect to see from a contractor for bollard installation. The below figures are estimates only, bollard installation costs vary greatly depending on location and project conditions.

Estimate based on project requiring 15 – 20 bollards equal to BollardsUSA Century Series model.

New construction

*Site graded and prepared for bollard installation
  • Labor & materials: $450 - $700
  • Bollard cost: $578
Total installation cost per bollard: $1,028 - $1,278

Existing Surface

*Bollard installed in existing concrete surface
  • Labor & materials: $300 - $550
  • Bollard cost: $578
Total installation cost per bollard: $878 - $1,128

The above figures include essential materials for bollard installation including concrete (1/3 cubic yard per bollard, 3,500 psi mix), concrete reinforcement (rebar and wire mesh) and equipment rental (mini-excavator, skid steer with auger bit or similarly priced equipment). Not included in the above estimate are additional materials and equipment such as traffic control rentals, plywood, pavement saw blades and disposal fees.

Labor costs for a typical bollard installation vary depending on the mounting option selected. Pipe mount installations typically require 24 to 48 inches of excavation which amounts to more labor hours than other methods featuring shallower mounts.

The bollard cost in the above estimate is based on a standard Century Series bollard and fixed mount installation kit. Removable bollards may cost approximately $200 - $300 more per bollard due to the additional components required to receive the bollard and allow easy removal.

Smaller bollard installation projects of two or three bollards will run higher costs in both labor and materials as well as product cost. Due to the cost of mobilization and setup time, short load fees and quantity pricing from suppliers, bollard installations consisting of 15 or more bollards realize a lower per-bollard installation cost than small installations.

The above estimate is not applicable to crash rated or K4 bollards. The costs associated with crash rated bollard installations are anywhere from 50% - 100% higher than that of standard decorative bollards.

#3 How deep should a bollard be buried?

The correct depth to bury a bollard fluctuates depending on engineering requirements and the desired mounting method. Fixed bollards using in-ground pipe mounting methods generally require a minimum of 24 inches up to 48 inches of concrete embedment below grade.

Many bollard installation methods do not necessarily require in-ground burial of the bollard. Instead, they are fastened to a separate component that is embedded in concrete below ground. A low-profile concrete embedded iron base is cast in concrete at a depth of four inches to secure the bollard in place using an all-thread rod. Similarly, all-thread may be anchored into a pre-drilled hole no more than six inches below grade to secure the bollard down onto an existing concrete surface.

Removable bollards, such as our Twist & Lock product line, often benefit from a lower-profile design requiring only eight inches below grade burial for the concrete embedded receiver casting.

Crash-rated bollards may require a burial depth greater than 48 inches, but low profile options are available for these applications as well. The BollardsUSA K4 shallow mount is installed at 12 inches below grade.

You can find detailed, downloadable product specs on our product pages.

#4 How far apart should bollards be spaced?

Bollards should be placed between three to five feet apart to allow for pedestrian traffic access while simultaneously prohibiting vehicular traffic. In addition, bollards must allow for full wheelchair access in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Exact distances may differ depending on specific project requirements.

#5 Do bollards need to be filled with concrete?

While most bollards are set within a concrete base, not all bollards are required to have a poured concrete interior. Generally, large-scale bollard manufacturers will sell products requiring concrete-filling post-installation.

Often a misconception of product performance, proper interior pipe installation can make internal concrete and threaded pipe crash rating differences negligible. BollardsUSA products are installed using a threaded pipe interior, accompanied by an additional top cap allowing owners to screw the pipe into place. With appropriate steel or cast iron parts inside the product, concrete may actually be the least necessary in terms of impact protection.

However, certain projects do require bollards with filled concrete interiors, in which case our products will arrive without the top cap to allow for alternative concrete fixation.

#6 What are bollard impact resistance requirements?

In most cases, bollard impact resistance requirements are defined by the nature of the project in mind. While some project specifications define the aesthetic quality of the product, more high-risk locations may demand more significant levels of site security.

K-Ratings

Developed in 1985 by the U.S. State Department and revised in 2003 following the rising prevalence of domestic terrorism, K-Ratings certify products based on the distance the front bumper of a 15,000-pound vehicle is able to pass after impacting a certain barrier. Ratings are classified based on speed (K-ratings) and penetration (L-ratings) performance.

K4 bollards, testing against a 30 mile per hour benchmark, are the most common. K8 (40 miles per hour) and K12 (50 miles per hour) bollards are often specified by projects requiring a higher emphasis on building or pedestrian security, such as for Federal building plans.

New ASTM ratings

Within the last decade, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) published standards F3016 & F3016M - 19: Standard Test Method for Surrogate Testing of Vehicle Impact Protective Devices at Low Speeds. These are more meticulous than the State Department standards they replace, defining ratings within categories broken out by vehicle weight and testing speed.

The ASTM classifications are: M (15,000 pounds), C (2,430 pounds), PU (5,070 pounds) and H (65,000 pounds). M40, for example, refers to testing M-category vehicles at 40 miles per hour.

An additional rating specification was implemented to track penetration distance after impact, broken down into the following: P1 (≤ 3.3 ft), P2 (3.3-23.0 ft), P3 (23.1-98.4 ft) and P4 (≥ 98.4 ft).

#7 How do I find a bollard installer in my area?

We recommend getting quotes from small, local concrete contractors.

In our experience, larger regional concrete contractors are not great candidates for bollard installation because they’re built for larger civil engineering projects requiring much more concrete than is needed to install bollards. Project specification, size and location may affect installer options.

At BollardsUSA, we understand that questions can be guided by specific project requirements. Our team is always available to answer your questions and help turn your vision into a reality.

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Alternatively, you can jump to our product page to find a guided selection process and full product and installation specs.

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