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Carbon fibre-reinforced polymer advantages & disadvantages

Described as the `wonder material of the century`, carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) is favoured by concrete repairs and strengthening specialists all over. The popularity of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer raised in 2016 and has been that way since – and we can see why! Carbon fibre-reinforced polymer is almost 3-4 times stronger and enormously lighter than steel, at an average weight of 600g/m2 and approximately 1mm thick carbon fibre strengthening systems get the job done quickly, easily, and oftentimes more effectively in comparison to materials with similar applications. We could talk about the pros all day – but what about the cons?

Read on to learn the pros & cons of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer.

Got any further points on why you love or loathe carbon fibre? Get in touch!

Carbon fibre-reinforced polymer advantages

  •  It is light weight which means fewer resources workers are needed to deliver and complete the project = a cost-effective option. 
  • It has high fatigue resistance and the flexible carbon fibres crack far less frequently than traditional alternatives like concrete and steel (especially when they’re subject to cyclic loading).
  • Carbon fibre-reinforced polymer has a higher `tensile` strength than materials like aluminium and steel. This means that carbon fibre handles more pressure than its traditional alternatives. 
  • It survives most severe environmental conditions like humidity, rainfall, radiation, chemical exposure, and more. It doesn’t corrode or deteriorate, so any structural elements coated in carbon fibre will continue to work efficiently.

Interested in booking a FREE site visit to see if your building or structure can benefit from carbon fibre applications?  

Get in touch with us today to discuss availability.

Carbon fibre-reinforced polymer disadvantages 

  • Carbon fibre products are expensive compared to other structural building materials used for the same jobs. Though, while products like aluminium and steel are cheaper initially, they require more manpower due to the weight. We always recommend booking a cost analysis before making a decision – that way you can notice the price difference and whether it’s worth it for you.
  • It conducts heat and electricity, so it may not be the best choice for your project if your building or structure works with either of these elements. We always recommend booking a feasibility analysis to see whether carbon fibre-reinforced polymer is the right option, or whether there’s a suitable alternative.  

To learn about the full range of structural strengthening solutions we offer, please visit our dedicated page: Carbon Fibre Strengthening

CFRPs in action: Browse our Projects section

Often, the best way to comprehend a specialist service is by seeing it in action and the difference the project has made. We’ve handpicked some of our recent CFRPs projects for you below!

Carbon fibre-reinforced polymer in action: London South Bank University

Curious about what carbon fibre-reinforced polymer can do? Read all about our recent London South Bank University project.   


A14 Huntingdon Bridge

CCUK worked with the main contractor on site to provide a solution for concrete repairs and the application of CFRP plates. The concrete repairs were done according to material and application specifications provided by the Highways Agency, mostly overnight while traffic was sparse!


Piccadilly Tower, Manchester

During the standard refurbishment, we discovered the soffit panels to be severely damaged. Concrete panels that formed the construction of the floor slabs had suffered some deterioration and damage over the years. 8-week project.


Wolverhampton Tower blocks

Working on behalf of some large contractors and very closely with Wolverhampton Council, CCUK has designed Carbon Fibre Strengthening solutions to enable the refurbishment of the HRRB’s for electrical, mechanical and sprinkler installation. 5-week project.


What are the alternatives to carbon fibre-reinforced polymers?

A more appropriate question, perhaps, is “what did we do before CFRPs?”. The technological advancements that have come along with carbon fibre-reinforced polymer materials mean we no longer *need* to depend on alternative strengthening/seismic upgrading methods. Although, that’s not to say all concrete construction experts use CFRPs (or, at least, they don’t yet!), and let’s be clear – there are still pros to using all types of seismic upgrading and it is usually down to the knowledge and experience of your contractor to suggest the `correct` one.

Here are just some of the methods our industry uses to strengthen reinforced concrete structures and buildings, exemplifying CFRPs. These methods are known as retrofit techniques and there are 6-7 in total, although there is usually a choice of 2-3 [1] once a survey of the building or structure has been completed and feasibility determined. For example, using a method to strengthen certain aspects of the structure could put unnecessary stress on another area, and so on.

  1. Concrete jacketing: Attaching new boards to existing structural elements, often columns, to increase foundational strength.
  2. Foundation strengthening: Widening and thickening foundational elements of a building to increase load-bearing strength.
  3. Reinforced concrete shear walls: Increases lateral load strength and improves the stiffness of a building or structure.
  4. Seismic isolation: Or base isolation, involves reinforcing the base of a structure or building to prevent damage caused by external harms.
  5. Steel bracing: Reinforces every surface of a structure to protect it from external forces, for example, strong winds.
  6. Steel plates & jackets: Or steel plate jacketing is used to apply reinforcement to confined areas.

To learn more about the aforementioned methods of structural strengthening and to compare them with the use of carbon fibre-reinforced polymers, call our expert team on 01482 425250 or fill in our online form today. We look forward to hearing from you!

Continued reading for you suggested on carbon fibre-reinforced polymers

Discover our other NEW blogs on carbon fibre-reinforced polymers: Insider views


[1] Methods of Strengthening of Reinforced Concrete Buildings – Seismosoft