GFRC Fabrication and Design for Decorative GFRC Products – All From GC Products, Inc.
Durable, lightweight, and affordable, glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) is a highly effective architectural material. It offers a functional solution and customization options that make it suitable for almost any architectural element on a commercial property.
At GC Products Inc, we are committed to crafting the custom products you need for your architectural designs and our GFRC solutions are one of the premier solutions that we have available. With a team of skilled engineers and designers, state of the art fabrication process, and years of experience, our GFRC development process can provide all of the different architectural components for your next build.
For architects and builders that would like to learn more about our GFRC products, you can find review our GFRC Specs here, and learn more about our product data here: GFRC Product Data. For a custom quote, call us today at 916-645-3870 or fill out our online form, below:
What is GFRC?
GFRC, also known as GRC, is a composite cast material. It contains Portland cement, aggregate, polymers, Alkali Resistant fiberglass, and several different additives. The polymers provide control over the curing time, allowing moisture to evaporate slowly enough to allow the concrete to reach full strength during moist curing. Likewise, the additives are designed to provide extra stability, enhance longevity, and improve curing times.
The Alkali Resistant (AR) glass fibers are what provide a GFRC with its many advantages. While the other components of GFRC are similar to precast concrete and the results are similar in appearance, the fiberglass provides a significant improvement in strength-to-weight ratio. The glass fiber averages approximately 4% to 8% of the total weight of the cement mixture, giving enough stability to the finished concrete after curing is complete without reducing malleability.
In the case of larger elements, like domes, GFRC often does not require the addition of rebar to provide the internal strength as precast concrete would. There is also a lower concentration of sand aggregate in the mixture, all because the glass can provide the necessary stability.
GFRC has been used in building projects since the 1970s, when the alkali-resistant fibers were developed. The alkaline-resistant fiberglass has 90% zirconia added to the glass to prevent it from reacting with the silica in the concrete. Since this innovation, it has grown to become one of the most dependable materials in construction.
It has a variety of applications but it is particularly suited to architectural elements, both decorative and functional. This is because, much like precast concrete, it relies on a mold to create different elements, enabling our team to achieve a range of designs. With low weight and high strength, GFRC can also be easily and affordably installed at any location on a building.
GFRC Manufacturing Process at GC Products, Inc.
At GC Products, we specialize in custom GFRC projects. Our team works with you throughout the process to plan and fabricate GRFC architectural elements that meet your design specifications. We have an expert team and all necessary equipment available in house, which keeps project costs down and lets us provide you finished products with shorter lead times so that you can complete your build on time and within budget.
Planning, Design, and Mold Construction
We begin the fabrication process with detailed renderings of your planned GFRC pieces. We can use any available architectural drawings you have or you can work with our engineers to plan and design custom elements.
We render designs using various CAD software to translate these designs directly into the necessary molds. This also makes it convenient for you to see and approve all designs before we go into production, ensuring that the completed pieces will be what you expected.
Once we have the designs ready, we begin mold making. Because we manage this process through software and state-of-the-art, computer-controlled equipment, we are able to accomplish a high degree of precision in each mold for a final product that has accurate dimensions. For decorative features, we can accomplish a high level of detail. With each mold made individually on a project-basis with advanced equipment, we can alter the dimensions and shapes, constructing elements in expansive sizes or innovative shapes.
GFRC Fabrication Process
With custom molds prepared, we can begin fabrication. The first step includes making the GFRC mixture, for which we use a carefully formulated ratio of Portland cement, polymers, water, and aggregates that reliably gives satisfactory results. There can be some customization to the mixture if certain results are necessary for project specifications, such as architectural components with different strength profiles.
There are then a few different ways we can apply the base mixture and fiberglass to molds. Options for pouring the GFRC depend largely on the size and shape of the architectural component and include:
- Pre-Mix GFRC – In this method, we mix the glass fibers in with the cement and aggregates, and pour the entire mixture into the mold.
- Spray Up GFRC – This method uses a sprayer built especially for this purpose to coat the interior of the mold with an even distribution of fiberglass and cement.
With each method of fabrication, our team is able to deliver strong results with dependable quality every time. This is due to our constant attention to detail and ongoing experience in fabricating GFRC, giving us a firsthand understanding of which methods will reliably yield the right results.
Once GFRC is in the molds, we leave it to cure. A short curing time is one of the many benefits of GFRC. In our optimized curing environment, GFRC takes less than 24 hours before it can be safely handled. It will continue to cure and reach full strength over the following days, but we can already have it unmolded and prepared for shipping during this time.
Extremely fast curing times, especially when compared with precast concrete and other materials, enables our team to manufacture dozens or even hundreds of architectural pieces quickly without needing to schedule in extensive waiting time for the curing process.
This means shorter lead times for projects and also requires less space for storage during the curing process. We can also often reuse molds for identical items like columns, wall panels, GFRC columns, GFRC wall panels, or GFRC trim. These features lead to cost savings that we can pass on to our customers.
We prepare all of your products for shipment directly to your job site. Shipping is generally highly affordable because GFRC weighs less than other types of product materials. We take care to expertly package finished products for shipment so that everything will make it safely to your build site.
On-Site Installation and Finishing
GFRC architectural elements from GC Products arrive at your building site ready for installation and finishing. A contractor and team can readily put elements into place.
Although it depends on the size of the piece, GFRC installation is often efficient. This is largely due to the low weight of GFRC. You do not need to build an extensive support structure, even for larger GFRC elements like domes or wall panels. Nor do you need extensive manpower or heavy-duty machinery to install many elements.
This also leads to an installation that is easier to coordinate and fits in better with a busy construction schedule.
Once in place, your team can finish GFRC in any style that matches or complements surrounding exterior surfaces. With GFRC, there are options to paint or texture in a variety of ways to achieve a wide range of desired looks.
Advantages of GFRC Over Precast Concrete and Other Architectural Materials
Almost any aesthetic architectural element can be constructed from GFRC by our team at GC Products, Inc, making GFRC a possible alternative for precast concrete, stone, siding, or other exterior coverings. Yet with the right finishing methods, the appearance of GFRC can be almost identical to any of these materials and provide an attractive look.
Yet there are many inherent benefits that GFRC offers over other construction materials, including:
Reinforcing the concrete mixture with fiberglass, as well as our finely tuned mixture of Portland cement, polymers, sand, and water, create a product with excellent strength. This lessens any need for additional structural support in order to hold GFRC in place. It also leads to damage resistance during installation and throughout the lifetime of your building.
In terms of strength, GFRC excels in the following categories:
- Flexural Strength – GFRC will resist bending – and therefore cracking – when pressure is applied to it. The glass fibers have a high modulus of elasticity, which means they do not allow the GFRC to stretch and bend.
- Tensile Strength – This strength is what enables a GFRC element to be stretched without breaking. This is important for withstanding natural thermal expansion and movement of the earth beneath your building. The tensile strength in GFRC can be more than 3 times that of steel.
- Compressive Strength – GFRC has good compressive strength. Coupled with the fact that it is lighter in weight, these architectural elements are unlikely to take damage from a compressive impact.
If there are specific building requirements that your project needs to meet, such as earthquake safety, we can work with you during the design phase and fabrication to adjust your GFRC products to meet specific requirements.
With its high strength and other characteristics, GFRC will last for many years, often outlasting other elements on your property. It resists cracking, chipping, scratches, and other forms of damage. This resistance also makes it easier to keep clean as either general cleaning or soft pressure washing will remove dirt and keep a GFRC surface professionally clean.
GFRC is malleable before curing, making it possible for us to fit it into molds of any shape or size. We can also fill extremely intricate molds to provide a level of detail that may be difficult with other fabrication methods and, when possible, would be far more expensive.
As a result, GFRC is the perfect material for everything from extremely large shapes to tiny decorative pieces that showcase detail.
A finished GFRC product is approximately two-thirds of the weight of the same element in precast concrete. It is also going to be far lighter in weight than any other equivalent element. This offers benefits throughout the building process as it can save on shipping, equipment, manpower, and time.
It also expands the opportunities for installing GFRC, giving you more options for where you can place elements. Renovations with GFRC are often far easier because you can use existing structures to support new additions. There is also less stress on a building’s foundation with lighter weight structures, giving your entire property greater longevity.
Weather Resistance and Waterproof
GFRC is resistant to different weather conditions and naturally waterproof. This makes it suitable for a range of exterior uses as well as interior locations where moisture is present. There is also no risk of corrosion, rust, or staining from contact with water over time.
Because GC Products makes GFRC architectural elements in molds, each element can be perfectly identical. This is especially useful when making multiple GFRC columns, GFRC balustrades and railings, wall panels, and any other project where a design needs to be carried through different elements. This will give you an extremely sleek and professional final appearance once all of the different pieces are installed.
GFRC is non-combustible and fire retardant. It can also help prevent the spread of smoke. This is beneficial in any commercial or residential property to promote fire safety and decrease the potential for damage or injury as a result of a fire on the property.
GFRC is also a thermal regulator. When it is placed between a surface and a flame, it offers some protection from the excessive heat to the material behind it.
As an eco-friendly material, GFRC is often a material of choice for buildings pursuing LEED certification, but can also be beneficial for any property. GC Products makes our GFRC elements from recycled materials that are inorganic and free of VOCs, producing environmentally friendly and completely safe final results.
Once installed, GFRC also continues to offer energy efficiency when used as wall panels, cladding, or domes since it has low thermal conductivity ratings. It will offer some natural insulation and prevent heat transfer. This can potentially reduce energy costs for your property.
Many of these advantages of GFRC contribute to its affordability with:
- Fast Production Time
- Lighter Weight Shipment
- Easier Installation
- Low Ongoing Maintenance
- Long Lifespan
These all lead to cost savings during fabrication, shipping, installation, and throughout the lifetime of the architectural piece.
GFRC Specifications and Reference Sheets
At GC Products, we have developed a reputation for being a top GFRC manufacturer in the industry, fitting GFRC products to fit a variety of different design and architectural specifications. Throughout that time, our products have remained consistent in quality and represent some of the most attractive and long-lasting GFRC solutions on the market.
Our work meets all ASTM standards and standard building codes for the materials used, manufacturing process, and characteristics like fire and smoke retardation. You can view a complete overview of our GFRC product data in our GFRC specification sheet.
When more stringent specifications are needed, we may also have the ability to provide additional customizations depending on your requirements. We can determine what is possible during an initial conversation about your project.
Where to Use GFRC in Commercial and Residential Properties
We have designed GFRC architectural elements for properties in many different sizes throughout the country, with our customization options making it possible for us to meet the needs of all different properties.
As a result, we have worked with a wide variety of property types, including:
- Schools and Universities
- Sporting Arenas
- Malls and Shopping Centers, and More
For any of these properties, GFRC can be the best choice for any exterior element because of its waterproof and weather resistant capabilities. Some of the elements that we most often make are:
- GFRC Column Covers – Although not strong enough to serve as support on its own, GCRC can provide a decorative cover for a column that consists of stronger material inside. Column covers can be simple rounded surfaces or can imitate the look of Tuscan columns, Greek columns, and other well known designs.
- GFRC Cladding – GFRC cladding is a siding option for properties that is more effective than brick, wood, vinyl, or metal, but with the same appearance depending on the finishing options.
- GFRC Panels – Wall panels made from GFRC can have a variety of functional and aesthetic purposes. They can introduce decoration to your property while also offering exterior protection to an underlying surface.
- GFRC Domes – We regularly use GFRC to create exterior domes. This is a leading option because the GFRC is so lightweight, making it easy to install structurally and preventing overstressing on the surrounding walls or foundation of the property. With design customization options, GFRC domes can be as intricate or simple, large or small as you would like.
- GFRC Balustrades – We can construct railings, spindles, and plinths to create beautiful railings for balconies, piazzas, staircases, and ornamental spaces. Through the use of molds, the entire balustrade will be uniform in appearance, even if you opt for a detailed look.
- GFRC Door Surrounds – Door surrounds from GFRC are a purely decorative element that can elevate the exterior appearance of a property. Made from GFRC, door surrounds are easy to install and we can design pieces that match seamlessly with the rest of the property.
- GFRC Cornices – As the decorative piece along a roofline, GFRC is the right material to render a decorative cornice because of the many design options. A GFRC cornice can match everything from modern design to features that fit more traditional or historical properties.
- GFRC Bollard Covers – Bollards separate walkways from traffic, protecting pedestrians and buildings. But steel or concrete bollards can be unattractive. GFRC bollard covers let you customize the appearance of bollards are your property, making bollards an attractive element.
- GFRC Cupolas – Cupolas provide venting and decoration at the roofline. With GFRC, we can create a customized and durable cupola that is lightweight for simple installation on your roof.
For each of these items, we can offer a range of different customization options. Architectural styles, sizes, shapes, and other solutions make it possible to create these and other elements, while also completely adapting products to your space. This can include everything from functional designs, such as the incorporation of lighting, electrical, and speaker systems, to aesthetic decisions.
By designing multiple exterior architectural elements together, our team makes it extremely easy and affordable to get a cohesive look throughout your property with both interior and exterior options. GFRC is most often an exterior construction material since it is waterproof, although it can be used in almost any setting, including for interior elements.
Another option for interior features where waterproof capabilities are not necessary is GFRG, or glass fiber reinforced gypsum. This product has many of the same advantages as GFRG, but uses a gypsum base instead of concrete. Because we manufacture both GFRG and GFRC at GC Products, our team can work with you to determine where GFRC is the right option on your property and which customization option will give you the long lasting, affordable, and attractive solutions you need to complete your build.
Why Choose GC Products for Custom GFRC Architectural Elements?
GC Products Inc is one of the only national providers of GFRC designs. Based in Northern California, our team can create nearly any element for our customers. With our processes, production techniques, and advanced equipment, the design possibilities are endless and the results are always the highest possible quality.
Beyond the advantages of reliable projects, our team at GC Products can also offer you a dependable experience as your GFRC contractor with:
- Experienced and Professional Team – Our engineers know how to translate design needs into GFRC. We take the time to fully understand your project requirements to be sure that we can deliver exactly the right results and have the answers to all your questions about GFRC during the process.
- Fast Process – In addition to the naturally faster process of constructing GFRC elements, we have further refined our process to be as efficient as possible. This means your project can proceed on time.
- Innovative Solutions – With both GFRC and GFRG options, GC Products is able to be your partner for all of your construction needs.
GC Products has supplied GFRC for architectural builds both large and small and we are ready to begin crafting your next idea. We pride ourselves on our commitment to quality, craftsmanship, and our long lasting glass fiber reinforced concrete material.
Start Your Project with a Free Quote – Contact GC Products
Wherever you are in your building process, our team is able to take on your project and provide you with effective solutions at an affordable cost. Start the process with a call to our team at 916-645-3870 or by letting us know more about your project in the contact form.