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

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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.

A series of black bollards on a sidewalk

#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 andLockmount, 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 baselinecosts 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 to 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 page.

A row of bollards by a staircase

#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.

Several bollards by a sidewalk

#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 ofdomestic 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.

Consult with us

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.

Get a personal consultation.

Top bollards manufacturers at a glance

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The last two decades have seen the emergence of countless bollards manufacturers, their products now dotting big city streetscapes and small town squares across the globe. But what makes these providers different from one another? Which producer is right for your project? 

If you’re searching for a bollards manufacturer for your upcoming project, use this no-nonsense resource to learn the essential facts about the top bollards brands in business today.

Bollards in front of a building

BollardsUSA

Why wouldn’t we put ourselves first? Manufactured and shipped directly from our facility in Middlesboro, Kentucky, BollardsUSA emerged as an American-made option in a largely foreign-sourced market. Offering industry leading customization in addition to a strong inventory of standard cast iron and stainless and powder-coated steel, our brand is trusted by municipal and corporate entities across the U.S. to supply high-quality decorative bollards. All this, coupled with full-circle customer support and sustainable manufacturing practices inherent in domestic production. 

  • Where they are made: Middlesboro, Kentucky
  • Shipping capabilities: Continental
  • Sustainable production: Yes, LEED-certified recycled material
  • Customizability: Yes
  • Custom color options: Yes
  • Removable options: Yes

Reliance Foundry

Owned and operated out of Surrey, British Columbia, Reliance Foundry Co. Ltd. has cemented itself as one of North America’s largest and most experienced suppliers of architectural site furnishings, traffic management products and industrial fixtures. With well over 200 listed bollard products, Reliance’s inventory includes crash-resistant series as well as removable and decorative options.

  • Where are they made: China, with some limited North American production
  • Shipping capabilities: Worldwide
  • Sustainable production: No
  • Customizability: Offers consultation
  • Custom color options: Yes
  • Removable options: Yes

1-800-Bollards

Headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, 1-800-Bollards has collected over a decade of experience in providing architectural and performance-rated bollards for major industries around the world. Possessing one of the largest inventories in the bollard industry, this woman-owned manufacturer offers over 400 different styles of products including high-security, removable and stainless steel options. 

  • Where are they made: Unknown
  • Shipping capabilities: Worldwide
  • Sustainable production: No
  • Customizability: Offers consultation
  • Custom color options: No
  • Removable options: Yes

McCue Corporation

Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Danvers, Massachusetts, McCue Corporation gained initial success with their kick-off of the “cart-stop,” a damage mitigation product found in big box retail stores. Through the next two decades, McCue expanded operations to include retail and industrial solutions. With the release of their “CrashCore” bollard line, the global manufacturer emerged as a full-service manufacturer, distributor and installer of crash-rated products. 

  • Where are they made: Unknown 
  • Shipping capabilities: Worldwide 
  • Sustainable production: No
  • Customizability: No
  • Custom color options: No
  • Removable options: No

Delta Scientific

Designed and manufactured out of their Palmdale, California facility, Delta Scientific has specialized in high-security vehicle control equipment for almost 50 years. Delta offers protective bollards meeting every ASTM safety rating tier, but its inventory extends beyond that to include a wide array of impact-resistant products. In-house mechanical and electrical engineers round out Delta’s team.

  • Where are they made: Palmdale, California
  • Shipping capabilities: Worldwide
  • Sustainable production: Unknown
  • Customizability: Yes, custom sleeves available
  • Custom color options: Yes, custom sleeves available
  • Removable options: Yes

Grainger

Known as a leading provider of miscellaneous industrial supplies, Grainger has recently emerged as a niche distributor of decorative stone bollards. With 75 ASTM crash-rated options, as well as non-rated decorative product lines, the Lake Forest, Illinois-based distributor offers stone barriers, planters and sports-based options as well as off-the-shelf fixed and removable steel bollards. 

  • Where are they made: United States 
  • Shipping capabilities: Worldwide 
  • Sustainable production: No, distributor-only
  • Customizability: No
  • Custom color options: No
  • Removable options: Yes

Atkore Calpipe

Atkore Calpipe manufactures and distributes its wide inventory of protective and architectural bollards from a facility in Downey, California. Removable series can be chosen from manual, assisted or automatic mounts as well as external padlocking fixtures. 

  • Where are they made: Downey, California 
  • Shipping capabilities: Worldwide 
  • Sustainable production: Yes
  • Customizability: Yes, custom sleeves available
  • Custom color options: Limited selection
  • Removable options: Yes

Traffic Guard

Traffic Guard has manufactured bollards in Sycamore, Illinois since 1999. Domestically produced, the manufacturer claims several product lines from removable and collapsible to fixed and parking series.  

  • Where are they made: Sycamore, Illinois 
  • Shipping capabilities: National 
  • Sustainable production: Unknown
  • Customizability: No 
  • Custom color options: Limited selection
  • Removable options: Yes

Let’s talk options

Still need more help vetting bollards providers for your next project? The experts at BollardsUSA can help you sort out what matters — and what doesn’t — as you search for the provider with the right price, right timeline and right level of customer service for your next project.

Contact us now.

Four benefits of sourcing American-made products

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As a domestic manufacturer in an industry dominated by foreign providers, sourcing bollards from BollardsUSA includes inherent benefits in buying American. From shorter and more predictable lead and shipping times to sustainable production and industry-leading quality control, let’s break down why buying American-made should be the only option considered.

(But before you buy, you might need a hand thinking through product specification. This guide covers it in detail.)

Made in the USA

Control costs and preserve timelines

While offshore production may include cost benefits due to cheaper labor and lax safety regulations, these are offset by higher shipping costs because of the distance to the end-user. An often-overlooked aspect of foreign production, sourcing internationally inherently results in slower, less predictable shipping and lead times. 

Take, for example, the Suez Canal blockage of March 2021. The Ever Given, a 1,500-foot container ship, prevented the passage of over 300 vessels through the canal, temporarily halting a significant percentage of global trade. The fallout was severe, “strain(ing) supply lines already stretched by Covid,” possibly delaying international supply chains for several months and surging costs to account for lost time.  

Other factors, such as recent increases on foreign steel tariffs introduced by the Trump administration, have only increased the cost of imported products, such as foreign-sourced stainless steel bollards. 

Limited solely by domestic trade regulations and cushioned by the relative predictability of domestic shipping, sourcing American-made bollards removes uncertainty and adds resilience. 

BollardsUSA offers a two-part delivery system designed to benefit project laborers and planners alike. With this unique system, we can have mounts and pipes delivered to project sites within a few days, allowing for early installation. 

Part one – We’ll deliver mounts and pipes first — within just a few days of your order — so you can proactively install these components without delay.

Part two – Bollard sleeves arrive in a second shipment. With mounts and pipes already installed, sleeve installation is a breeze.

Two-part delivery allows you to make the most efficient use of your installation crew’s time, ultimately reducing total time on-site and, in turn, total project cost. 

As an added measure of quality control, this delivery system also allows end users to identify any required replacement parts. In turn, we supply replacement parts along with the second delivery.

Ensure sustainable manufacturing

Purchasing American-made products intrinsically equates to supporting greener solutions to manufacturing. While foreign products are often cheaper, factors such as the environmental costs of ocean freight are not often accounted for in the total cost of a product. 

Outside the lawful jurisdiction of any one government, global shipping has grown to produce “nearly 3% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions…roughly the same carbon footprint as Germany.”  And, although domestic providers claim sustainable foreign manufacturing of products, their claims often ignore the environmental cost of product transportation. 

In truth, the least environmentally damaging procurement method is buying from a domestic manufacturer that utilizes regional raw material sources. This allows the buyer to tighten the supply chain from material source to manufacturer to end-user, minimizing environmental impact while strengthening the domestic economy as a bonus. 

At BollardsUSA, we believe that sustainable manufacturing is as good for business as it is the planet. Eighty-four percent of material used to produce our cast iron bollards is recycled, meeting LEED criteria for Materials and Resources Credit 4: Recycled Content. By sourcing from regional steel mills that utilize 82 to 99% of recycled production, our steel and cast iron products ensure a full-circle sustainable approach to manufacturing.

Molten metal

Increase product quality

An often-overlooked consequence of sourcing foreign products is a lack of quality control from manufacturer to end-user. When you purchase BollardsUSA products, you receive a direct line to our team. Manufacturers sourcing from outside of the United States often utilize third party customer service providers or unreliable automated systems. 

Simply put, talking to a human shouldn’t be such a tall order. With us, it’s not.

Further, with significantly shorter shipping distances, a domestic provider can deliver replacement parts under the possibility of initial part failure. With BollardsUSA’s two-tiered delivery system in mind, replacements can be shipped within the second shipment. Therefore, the issue can be corrected quicker than a foreign provider could even deliver its first shipment.

Support the American workforce

When you buy American, that ripples outward in support of American industries and American workers.  

But it also introduces the intrinsic benefits of domestic sourcing:

  • Faster lead times
  • Lower shipping costs
  • Better timeline predictability
  • Exceptional customer service
  • Environmental stewardship

If you want your project to be good for business and good for the country, let’s talk about buying American-made from BollardsUSA.

4 factors you should consider before specifying bollards

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Bollards are everywhere.

Some offer protection to public buildings. Some separate vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Some are purely visual, providing architectural definition to common spaces like plazas and parks.

Because these versatile fixtures must serve in a wide variety of functions, they cannot all be alike. And that can make it difficult for the specifiers or buyers responsible for sourcing the right product for their project.

To help guide you through the specification process, we’ve summarized four factors all buyers and specifiers should consider. For a more in-depth and holistic look at bollard specification, read this guide.

Functionality

Crash-rated and fixed? Or aesthetic and removable? A different combination entirely? Deciding the overall function of your bollards is paramount in specifying the right product for your project. 

First and foremost, does your project call for crash-rated bollards designed to keep pedestrians safe in close proximity to cars and trucks? While stock product lines can be installed with an additional security pipe for enhanced vehicular protection, specifying crash-rated products is an entirely different process altogether. 

Crash-rated bollards are specified for enhanced, measurable protection of people or structures. They’re most commonly found guarding the main entrances of government buildings, other public institutions or some private facilities and are engineered to meet very specific criteria. But while aesthetics have historically been absent from crash-rated bollard specification, some providers are capable of adding visual appeal to these fixtures to ensure they weave into the fabric of the spaces they inhabit more naturally. 

Removable bollards, such as those with our newly patented Twist & Lock mount, offer a unique, additional functionality to our product lines. Allowing for easy removal, these mounts provide the ability to dynamically change the flow of the surrounding area. For example, one day the bollards can be placed to give restaurants and small businesses additional storefront space for extra pedestrian traffic, and removed the next for vehicular traffic or parking space.

Often a product calls for permanent, fixed bollards, while others call for removable options, and there is a desire for the aesthetics of these types to match. As a rare feature, our bollard product line offers varied installation hardware for the same bollard design, allowing all bollards in a specific project to appear the same while serving different functions.  

In this case study, read how our removable bollards helped a small Indiana town develop a dynamic multi-use streetscape and public space designed to allow for vehicular traffic one day and pedestrians the next.

Aesthetic appeal and sourcing materials

The purpose of a row of bollards is deeper than just keeping pedestrians safe and minimizing property damage. These fixtures are a reflection of the spaces they occupy, so how they appear to the public eye (for better or worse) leaves an impression.

After all, bollards are highly visible objects. Their design is defined by their immediate function, but with a little imagination, specifiers and architects can push the bounds of aesthetic appeal by determining the feel surrounding the needs of their project.

Campus bollards for carpool lines and the safety of students, for instance, differ in design than those made for industrial buildings with seldom foot traffic. And though tourist areas such as ballparks and museums might require the structural integrity to stop a moving vehicle, they lend more opportunity for a statement to be made, since they will be frequented yearly. Cemeteries are places of remembrance, so they, too, demand bollards that capture the stylistic integrity of their landscape.

In accordance with minimizing our carbon footprint, BollardsUSA is committed to sourcing regionally repurposed materials including recycled railroad steel. Most of our products are made of at least 84% recycled materials. That means that our bollards can help contribute to achieving your desired project LEED score and play a part in the fight against the deterioration of the environment.

Environmental factors

The responsibility of planning your project’s footer design, utility markings and other preparatory site work often falls on the contractor, but architects ought to consider these factors when choosing bollards, too.

Areas with pre-existing concrete offer a healthy base for decorative or surface mounting bollards. They also reduce installation costs by eliminating expensive site work requirements such as clearing the area of debris, engineering a new pavement foundation and pouring new concrete. 

Certain surfaces, such as asphalt, do not provide a good surface for any bollard installation due to certain factors. When working with these types of surfaces, a concrete footing would need to be poured for any type of bollard to assure a structurally sound installation. 

Other, deeper installation methods can also run the risk of imposing on underground infrastructure like water service lines or irrigation piping. Thorough knowledge of the area is required before installation. If you are considering a deep-mounted, crash-rated bollard and haven’t done a utility survey yet, now’s the time.

Refer to our commonly asked questions guide for an in-depth breakdown of installation costs, including primary costs and extraneous factors.

Customizability

Often secondary in concern when compared to installation area and product function, bollard customizability is an easy way to make fixtures stand out among the surrounding area or fit in perfectly with the color and theme of its environment. 

BollardsUSA services, such as product logo casting and color matching, can help connect your bollards with the community around them. When you partner with BollardsUSA, our design and engineering teams can supply CAD drawings, 3-D product renderings and physical color decks to ensure that you are receiving the perfect product for your outdoor space. 

At BollardsUSA, we know that it is often vital to speak directly with a member of our team during the specification process, especially regarding product customization. In order to create a seamless buying experience, our team is available to help construct a vision of the right product for you, in real-time, from the very beginning.

At BollardsUSA, we make it easy

We know how difficult it is to find information ready for specification. Browse our product page to access 1) installation and product CAD drawings and 2) a three-part Guide Spec written to CSI standards. All available for download to help ease your project planning.

Additionally, our team of experts is ready to speak one-on-one to help guide you through the process. Whether you are starting from scratch or already have an ideal product in mind, we will be there to help from the first call until your bollards are in the ground. 

Contact us now and talk to a real person right away. Call 1-502-554-1178.

Everything you need to know about bollard installation

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Correct installation of bollards is one of the most important aspects of any streetscape or landscape project where these fixtures are included.

In fact, the only thing more important than getting them in the ground properly is making sure you’ve chosen the right ones. (Learn more about that here.)

Understanding installation matters because the time, complexity and cost associated with it can vary significantly depending on the product type you’ve chosen and whether it must serve protective as well as aesthetic purposes.

Keep reading to ensure these considerations don’t catch you off guard too late.

And for a deeper discussion on what to think about as you specify bollards, read our in-depth guide.

How function determines installation method

Your bollards’ role will be the most important determining factor in how the products are installed.

Installation requirements fall on a spectrum of difficulty and cost depending on:

  • Whether bollards serve primarily aesthetic or protective purposes — or a blended multi-purpose role
  • Whether bollards are permanently installed or designed for removability

Permanently installed bollards

Purely decorative bollards that need not offer any protective or deterrent value are the most straightforward and least costly to install. Often, surface mounting via some simple hardware and a masonry drill is sufficient. Engaging a concrete contractor is not strictly necessary for installing purely decorative bollards, although many buyers engage these professionals anyway. They make quick work of it.

It’s common that bollards serving a primarily architectural purpose still must offer some degree of protection. When this is the case, the bollard will need to be embedded within new or existing concrete. If protective bollards are installed in an area without concrete, a subsurface concrete foundation is still necessary for the bollard to perform its protective role. As such, installation is more complex and comes at a higher cost. A concrete contractor is definitely recommended.

Finally, the most complicated (and costly) installation is for bollards serving primarily protective purposes in venues where they must meet specific crash ratings. Owing to these more strenuous requirements, installation is much more complex. Installation locations must be prepared for the excavation and pouring of footings that, in some instances, can go as deep as four feet below ground level. Further, a civil engineer must sign their approval that bollards are crash rated. Concrete contractors are necessary to perform the installation.

Removable bollards

But how do installation considerations change when bollards — whether they’re protective or decorative or both — must be removable?

This is generally harder to accomplish so engaging the right concrete contractor is key. However, BollardsUSA has made things a bit simpler with our patented Twist & Lock removable bollard system.

Twist & Lock installation involves embedding a casting into new concrete which is engineered to accept the bollard design of your choice. Then, just like the name says, bollards are twisted to lock into place. 

And if you’re worried that anyone could twist the fixtures out of the ground and walk off with them, our systems are designed such that they can only be removed via special anti-theft tooling.

Again, because installing Twist & Lock bollards involves embedding hardware in concrete, a concrete contractor is required. And if removable bollards must meet specific crash ratings, be prepared for a much more complex and strenuous installation process to ensure required engineer impact certifications are met. 

Searching for inspiration? Aesthetic appeal, pedestrian delineation and removability all make an appearance in this case study from Huntingburg, Indiana. Removable bollards help transform the busy downtown into a safe, pedestrian-oriented gathering space for events and festivals.

Consider K4 mounts for unique protective applications

In some cases, buyers need bollards that offer crash-rated protection but site conditions prevent them from installing fixtures to the required depth below ground level.

There’s a way around that: shallow foundation mounting. 

These bollard foundations are designed with a wider, shallower footprint and can be embedded roughly 12 inches below grade. This design spreads the energy of an impact laterally within a wider but lower-profile concrete slab rather than vertically through a very deep, narrow footing.

A side-by-side comparison drawing of deep mounting and shallow mounting for bollards.

Site prep considerations

Bollards are installed under two basic project scenarios: either they’re incorporated into a newly planned landscape or construction project, or they’re incorporated as an additional element in an existing space.

It’s comparatively easy to install bollards in existing spaces without demolition or other significant site prep if the bollards do not need crash ratings. As noted earlier, it’s just a matter of drilling into the existing concrete of a sidewalk, roadside or plaza and setting the fixtures in place with the necessary materials and hardware.

More often, though, bollards are but one part of a larger new landscape or streetscape project. Site preparation is obviously more involved under those circumstances.

Take care not to let your bollards’ required degree of crash protection go overlooked in project planning.

To achieve a crash-rated foundation, you’ll need sufficient space either deep below grade or wide. Be sure your preconstruction survey reveals what, if anything, lies underground. Remember that some bollards must be mounted as deep as four feet below grade. If you don’t have enough room that far down, you’ll need to go shallower but wider.

For example, during recent work in Newark, New Jersey, the specification of K4/M30 shallow mountings helped project leaders achieve maximum crash protection without worrying about the tangle of subsurface utilities they were sure to encounter in a dense urban environment.

Does BollardsUSA install bollards?

BollardsUSA manufactures and ships bollards nationwide from our foundry in Middlesboro, Kentucky, but we do not install bollards on-site. We always recommend engaging a trusted local concrete contractor for that.

That’s one of the most common questions our team is asked. See answers to the others here.

Get a quote or consult for custom options

It takes just a couple clicks to receive a quote for bollards for your next project. Start here — it’s super easy to select the product, choose colors and add-ons and review installation options.

If your upcoming work requires a more customized approach, our designers are ready to lend a hand. Connect with one here or give us an old-fashioned phone call at 1-502-554-1178. 

A real human in Kentucky will answer the phone. 

The guide to bollard specification and selection: Nearly everything you need to know

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Bollards are arguably the most flexible fixture of any hardscape.

They can stand out as a showpiece, or blend in entirely. They protect people and structures in applications ranging from courthouses and military bases to small-town storefronts and public parks.

In other words, you can put them practically anywhere, assign them almost any function and — if you choose the right manufacturer — give them almost any aesthetic quality so that they look like they belong.

Stainless steel bollards protect the entry plaza outside Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

So, you’ve got options. As far as types of bollards goes, maybe even too many.

And the last thing landscape architects and specifiers need is a confusing process that takes too long.

Our objective with this guide is to provide the information you need to specify bollards that perfectly match your project’s requirements — and fast.

It covers:

Click any of the bullet points above to jump directly to that discussion.

Jump to top.

Project parameters drive bollard specification decisions

Above, we hinted that bollard specification is quite widely variable because there are so many ways these fixtures are used.

To break it down most simply, bollards are specified for three main functions.

Specifying fixed decorative bollards

Architects specify decorative bollards because they are an effective way to define or divide spaces in a landscape without creating solid, coarse barriers like walls or fences that hamper access and diminish visual appeal.

Consider the perimeter of a fountain in the town square or the bicycle path meandering through a park. Bollards are common in these spaces because they add aesthetic appeal while preserving people’s ability to move freely.

Your objective, then, is choosing bollards that appear to belong. Available color schemes, design variety and other customizations will be your overriding concerns. What the bollards are made of, and how they are installed, are of secondary importance to preserving the overall aesthetic of a space.

Bollards surround a Christmas tree in a town square.

And though safety is not their primary function, decorative fixtures can keep people and landscapes safe due to the visual friction they introduce in someone’s field of view. Drivers who see barriers that separate one space from another — even that barrier takes the form of a row of bicycle bollards — are more likely to avoid them.  

Cost is covered in detail later, but purely decorative bollards are usually cheaper to buy and much cheaper to install because they do not need to meet any impact resistance criteria.

Specifying fixed protective bollards

These are fixtures specifically rated to withstand vehicular impacts of varying severity.

On one end of the ratings spectrum, protective bollards must be able to stop vehicles weighing 15,000 pounds traveling at 30 miles per hour. These are commonly specified to separate pedestrian and vehicular rights of way on local streets but certainly not along arterial roads or highways.

On the opposite end, bollards meeting the highest standard of protection are commonly found around sensitive buildings like federal courthouses, military installations or diplomatic posts. They must be able to stop a vehicle weighing 15,000 pounds traveling at 60 miles per hour. As the threat of terrorism increased worldwide, these hyper-protective bollards have become a key component of the protection of any military or government installation, including American sites subject to antiterrorism/force protection (AT/FP) benchmarks.

View the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers summary of AT/FP requirements here.

Obviously, these fixtures are more expensive to buy and involve a much more intensive (and therefore pricey) installation.

Some projects blend aesthetics and protection

When that’s the case, a specifier must be able to keep both the aesthetic and protective functions top-of-mind at once.

It is comparatively easy to define the degree of protection that bollards must provide. As long as you understand the installation site, its immediate surroundings and any other previously stated project specifications, you have what you need.

Similarly, aesthetic objectives are also rather easily defined. By the time it is up to you to specify fixtures, the project owner or architect has likely given instruction on what they want to see.

Stainless steel bollards separate a road from a pedestrian sidewalk outside Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

Here’s the hard part:

Locating a provider who can build bollards that look the way the owner wants them to look while also meeting crash protection requirements. Far fewer providers combine the engineering know-how and manufacturing equipment to make custom bollards that meet these complex hybrid requirements.

Which is best for you?

All this is to say that as a specifier, it’s not just that you’re responsible for choosing bollards. You must choose the right bollards.

That means you must balance the competing concerns of a project:

  • Meeting protective requirements, if any
  • Assuring aesthetic appeal
  • Securing timely delivery
  • Specifying correct installation
  • Keeping an eye on cost

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Bollards installation considerations by type: decorative vs. safety bollards

Specifying bollards is a linear process: You won’t know whether a decorative, protective or hybrid fixture is ideal without first understanding the overall project parameters and the environment in which the work will occur.

Similarly, the way a bollard is made and how it should be installed is only clear once you know whether you must specify for protective, decorative or hybrid purposes.

Decorative bollards materials and installation

With no crash ratings to worry about, purely decorative bollards can be made of anything. Specifiers’ only limitation will be cost.

Cast iron is a good choice because it is readily available, aesthetically pleasing and sturdy when properly coated and maintained. Timber beams, while quite cheap, are still a great choice in select settings. Heavy plastics are another option, though not a good one in our opinion. While they are cheap and easily customizable, they do not look the best and are frightfully easy to damage.

Other materials like stainless steel or concrete can be specified for decorative fixtures, but:

  • The low cost of concrete is outweighed by the extreme difficulty in getting it to look nice
  • Stainless steel is overly expensive; it looks beautiful but should only be specified for decorative use if the owner doesn’t mind paying a premium
Unsightly concrete bollards on a roadside.

Decorative bollard installation specifications are fairly rudimentary. If the fixtures will be installed on an existing concrete surface, one needs only to drill holes and bolt them down. For decorative bollards that will be placed somewhere away from an existing concrete surface, a modest concrete footing can be poured. Only in that latter case should hiring a concrete contractor for installation be necessary, provided they have the proper tools and know-how.

Protective bollards materials and installation

Protective bollards are usually made of concrete, steel or cast iron, and in many cases (such as when aesthetics and protection must coexist) you will encounter steel pipe bollards that fit inside a cast iron or plastic decorative sleeve.

Concrete bollard specification is the rarest. Pound for pound, concrete is cheaper than steel. But it takes much more concrete to offer an identical degree of protection as an anchored steel pipe does. As such, concrete bollards serving protective purposes are usually very large and bulky. And even if protection supersedes aesthetics, no one likes an eyesore.

That’s why steel pipe bollard specification (or steel pipe inside a cast iron sleeve) is far more common. When properly anchored, they offer maximum protection in a lower profile. Depending on their protective requirements, they may be made with double walls or anchored in enhanced steel foundations.

A moment ago, we used the phrase “anchored steel pipe.” This may lead to a question we are frequently asked: How deep should bollards be installed?

How deep should bollards be installed?

A traffic bollard’s required crash rating ultimately determines its installation specifications. When maximum protection is needed, bollards will need to be anchored to concrete footings that are sunk as much as four feet below grade. Generally, as protective requirements are reduced, the shallower a bollard’s footing can be poured.

(For some projects, digging downward is not an option. Consider specifying K4 shallow foundation mounting instead. This entails pouring a shallower but wider foundation instead of a narrow but deep one.)

While we’re on the topic of questions, here’s another: How far apart should bollards be?

How far apart should bollards be?

In protective or hybrid applications, station the fixtures no more than four or five feet apart. If aesthetics are all that matter, space them however you please. For crash-rated bollards, it is best to leave installation to the professionals. Engage a local concrete contractor. It’s no knock on them, but ordinary facility or municipal maintenance personnel do not have the needed equipment or skillset for these more complex installations.

Bollards separate a sidewalk from a road beside a public park.

Specifying bollards for both protection and aesthetic appeal

This is a challenge. As we observed above, you will need to balance the project’s protective requirements against an owner’s or architect’s aesthetic guidance.

Your best bet is to locate a manufacturer who has demonstrated they can deliver on both accounts and pick their brain in case their past experience applies nicely to your present project.

The engineers at BollardsUSA are happy to help. It’s easy to get a hold of them, too. Fill out the form here if you want, but you can also just call 1-502-554-1178. A real human in Kentucky will answer the phone.

We also very clearly provide specs on each of our products online — just use our easy selector tool in the products section of our site.

Bollards connected by chains separate pedestrian traffic in an urban setting.

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Crash-rated bollard rules, regulations and standards: A quick survey of who’s in charge

There’s quite a patchwork of agencies and authorities that define rules and standards for crash-rated bollards.

ASTM publishes the F3016 and F2656 standards. The former covers low-speed impacts up to 30 miles per hour while the latter covers higher-speed impacts up to 60 miles per hour.

In addition to potentially meeting the ASTM standards above, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that permanent bollards in regulated work sites must be painted a canary yellow.

Elsewhere, the U.S. Department of State published what used to be known as “K-ratings,” which defined how well the barriers outside their facilities needed to protect against vehicle impact. But in 2009, State conformed its requirements to those published by ASTM.

While the International Building Code (IBC) does not define crash ratings, they do offer recommendations regarding the dimensions and placement of bollards as they relate to building ingress, egress and service areas.

And then there’s your local municipality. A question commonly asked at the outset of any project is: Do I need planning permission to install bollards?

Do I need planning permission to install bollards?

The long answer is that it depends:

If your work is part of a project that already was subject to planning approval, that approval probably covers the bollard installation.

If you’re installing bollards adjacent to federal or state highways and the project is partially funded or subsidized by the fed or your state, regulators will need to verify the bollards meet crash ratings. In fact, the funding is often contingent on meeting those ratings.

A bollard in a pedestrian path within a mixed use development.

If you’re part of a private entity specifying bollards for installation on property you own, you probably do not need planning permission so long as you’re simply bolting bollards to concrete at grade. But if you’re digging underground, you should assume that some third party, even if it is not the municipality, will need to sign off.

The short answer is, call your municipality to find out. Everyone’s rules are bound to vary. And speaking of rules…

When are bollards required?

A simple answer might be that bollards are required in any setting where pedestrians or structures must be protected against other traffic.

But it’s not that straightforward: Whether the requirement comes from a city council, state legislature or federal agency, it won’t specifically state that “bollards” must be installed.

Instead, it’ll use the word “barrier” or something similarly vague. Barriers are commonly required to control access to city, state and federal government buildings as well as military and diplomatic installations.

Bollards can be considered barriers if they’re appropriately spaced, but a brick wall is a barrier, too. So is a fence or a jersey barrier or even a concrete flower pot.

So, when are bollards required?

Bollards are required when municipal authorities or architects specify that they are the appropriate barrier for the project. Many factors inform this decision, including city planning guidelines, traffic control requirements, pedestrian safety concerns and, as always, aesthetic appeal.

If you’re in doubt, get in touch with any regulating authority involved on the project.

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Bollard paint specification: A quick word on protective coatings

Any bollard installed out in the elements will degrade over time, so protection is crucial.

So, should you paint bollards?

If they’re only made of concrete, yes, you should paint them. Not all coatings are created equal, so be sure you’re using one specifically made for concrete adhesion.

As for cast iron, you have a couple options. Coating cast iron with paint is actually a bad idea because paint degrades when exposed to the elements. That degradation may lead to chipping or peeling which increases the risk of corrosion of the iron underneath.

If you want a smooth, even and attractive finish, powder coating is ideal for cast iron. Powder coating involves the application of organic powder by electrostatic attraction to metal creating a smooth, durable surface finish. In addition to superior longevity and corrosion resistance, powder coating is a more efficient and environmentally friendly coating process than traditional wet paint. Any overspray with powder coating is reclaimed and re-used, and there is no use of environmentally harmful materials since chemical solvents and VOCs are not required.

A bollard top with a custom stamped logo.

It’s also worth noting that cast iron does not require a coating of any kind to effectively resist corrosion or weathering. In fact, bare cast iron is among the most corrosion resistant building materials available. As cast iron is exposed to normal environmental conditions, it will oxidize, or rust. The oxidation of carbon-based metals like cast iron will transition from orange to dark brown colors over time, depending on age and exposure. After a period of time the cast iron develops an oxide layer, or patina, on its surface which acts as a highly durable, visually appealing and 100% maintenance-free finish.

One could sidestep coating requirements by specifying stainless steel bollards, but be sure to weigh the pros and cons. It’s a comparatively expensive option but its corrosion resistance is very high. However, they don’t always look great in settings with a more traditional aesthetic appeal. In that case, opt for powder-coated steel or cast iron. Browse our products to see a wide range of bollard finishes as well as other options, including materials, dimensions, mounts and customizations.

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Consider specifying removable bollards for maximum flexibility

So far, we’ve confined this discussion to fixed bollards that, once installed, stay where they are for life.

But some project requirements are unique enough to warrant fixtures that offer suitable pedestrian protection or space definition one day and then disappear the next.

Here’s where removable bollards come in. They’re engineered for easy removal or replacement inside permanent embedded receivers.

View from above of an embedded mount for a removable bollard.

Same as fixed bollard specifications, removable bollard specifications will vary based on what degree of protection — if any — they must provide. They are best suited for spaces that support many and varied uses.

To get a clearer picture of the versatility these products offer, read about the ones we provided for the city of Huntingburg, Indiana in this case study. With removable bollards incorporated into Huntingburg’s downtown, the city today can turn busy 4th Street into a pedestrian-only open-air space in the snap of a finger.

Removable bollard engineering is a bit more complex, so be prepared for a more involved installation and a potentially higher per-unit cost. And, note that removable bollards, for all their good, are not ideal if superior crash protection is needed. They can offer protection at lower speeds, but they wouldn’t make the grade guarding the perimeter of a sensitive government or military site. In cases where you do need removable safety bollards, this is possible. But be warned: These fixtures are too heavy to be handled manually. You should expect to need machinery to remove or reposition them.

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How much do bollards cost?

You probably guessed by now that the answer is, “it depends.”

And it depends on a lot of factors. But here’s a crude range:

A no-frills plastic bollard with no accompanying crash ratings can be had for less than $200 per unit. You can even find them on your favorite e-retailer website. Of course, you’ll pay workers to install them, and those rates vary based on where you’re located and how complex the installation is.

Decorative cast iron or steel bollards with no added crash protection component will vary in cost depending on how they’re finished and what customizations, if any, are added on. But a crude number might be $600 to $1,000 per unit when accounting for labor.

Protective bollards offering maximum crash resistance are made of sturdier materials and require digging and pouring foundations. Owing to this added complexity, all-in cost for these bollards could approach $4,000 each.

Again, these are crude numbers. It would be misleading on our part to offer detailed cost guidance without knowing a whole lot more about what you have in mind.

If you’re looking for certainty, let’s talk. Contact us here or dial 1-502-554-1178. Like we said earlier, there’s a real person whose job is to answer that phone.

No robots, no automation.

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Safety and decorative bollard maintenance and warranties

Some may believe that bollards are free of any maintenance requirements — just anchor them to the ground and be done with them.

That’s only partially true.

Our first bit of advice to any architect or specifier tasked with choosing which bollards to install is to ask the manufacturer what maintenance requirements might be present for each product type they’re considering.

Not every manufacturer will be 100% open about this, but the good ones will be. BollardsUSA will always discuss this with anyone who asks.

Second, be sure you know the terms of product warranties. This is crucial because, most of the time, bollards will require maintenance if they weren’t properly cared for prior to their installation.

Here are some pre-installation considerations:

Store the bollards properly before installing them. This is especially crucial in a time where lead times and supply chain challenges force customers to order well in advance rather than receiving delivery right when it’s time to install. Storage considerations include:

  • Keeping the bollards out of the elements and preventing exposure to rain, standing water or salt spray
  • Preventing exposure to chemical fumes, acid or anything else corrosive

Minimize risks to products after receiving delivery. If something happens to damage products while they’re under our control (meaning, at any stage from when we made them until we drop them off at your site), we own fixing the problem. After that, it’s on the customer. Take care not to expose bollards to an environment where they will be struck, scratched, abraded or otherwise impacted — including natural disasters.

Always follow the installation instructions a manufacturer sends along with a delivery. If you don’t, you may accidentally cause a problem you won’t know is a problem until after the products are installed. Warranties won’t cover you in that instance and the cost to repair or replace is yours to bear.

Other manufacturers’ warranties will vary, but ours is simple. If damage occurred when the products were under our control, we’ll either repair them, replace them or refund the cost excluding shipping. We guarantee the integrity of materials and workmanship for five years, and that powder coatings won’t crack or change in color for two years from the date of invoice.

If products are damaged:

  • Identify and document which specific products were damaged
  • Verify and document that the products were handled and installed according to manufacturer instructions
  • Be prepared to grant the manufacturer’s representatives access to the installation site to examine the installation and other site conditions

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Comparing bollards manufacturers

Just as there are many and varied applications for bollards, there are a great many bollards manufacturers in the U.S. and around the world.

How do you know which one to choose?

It comes down to understanding your project’s requirements and knowing the landscape of providers.

Of course, we hope you consider BollardsUSA. Here’s why:

Our products are made in America. And that’s good for more than warm-and-fuzzy flag waving. As ongoing supply chain and logistics problems rattle global commerce, you can rely on faster lead times and cheaper shipping. Our bollards are shipped by truck from Kentucky and not tossed on a cargo ship that might not arrive in port for months (or get stuck in the Suez Canal). If you care about getting the job done on schedule, buy domestic.

They are sustainably sourced. Most of the steel products we manufacture are recycled from railroad rails. Reconditioning this raw material rather than making it from scratch reduces environmental impact — and cost, too.

They are customizable. Thanks to the technical expertise of our engineers and foundry operators, we can make basically any bollard, and make it look however you want with custom color matching and logo casting. We blend form and function so you never have to sacrifice looks for performance again.

But depending on your project and circumstances, we might not be the best fit. Read up on the other providers we’ve listed here. Odds are, you’ll find what you’re looking for — even if it doesn’t come from us.

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Now you’re ready to nail it

Specifying the right bollards for your streetscape or hardscape project can be daunting.

We’re here to make that process a bit faster and easier.

For architects and specifiers who are just shopping around or searching for inspiration, view our full products page. From decorative to protective and stainless steel, coated steel and cast iron, there’s a lot there. You’re bound to find something that strikes you.

If you’re already close to knowing what you need, use the filters on that page to find the exact right bollard for your project faster.

From there, get a fast and accurate quote. You’ll love how easy we’ve made it to choose:

  • Your product series and specific bollard
  • The color of your fixtures
  • Installation options
  • Add-ons and customizations like logo caps, chains and eye bolts

…all from that single page.

And maybe you just need to cut through the clutter and talk to someone who knows their stuff.

If you’re the strong silent type, fill out this form. But we’d love an old-fashioned phone call, too. Talk to a real person by dialing 1-502-554-1178.

You’ll love our charming Kentucky accents.

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