Many factors go into determining the best material for the utility poles needed for your specific job. Whether going with wooden, metal, or spun-concrete poles, there are long-term considerations at play.
Each specific use case will change which material is best. For some, wooden or metal beams may be the best course of action. For this article, we will focus on concrete utility poles and the benefits of concrete products. While that will be the focus of this article, there are still plenty of merits to the other options!
Concrete poles may not be the most popular option and are certainly not as common as wood utility poles in the United States, but they serve a very important role. In instances where they are appropriate, they can provide major advantages.
Pros of Concrete
The most obvious pro for using concrete with utility poles is strength. Concrete utility poles will be much stronger than ones made from metal or wood. Concrete utility poles have the potential for the longest lifetime of all choices.
Given the strength of concrete, they are often a good choice for areas where large storms are common. The added strength they provide makes them less likely to fall.
The number one reason for the replacement of wooden beams is because they rot or degrade. Poles undergo treatment but, over time, it can wear off. When this happens, it risks leaving them vulnerable to the elements.
Unlike wooden poles, concrete doesn’t rot. Even in the dampest of environments, concrete doesn't face that concern. This fact makes concrete a valuable option for wetter areas like swamps or forests.
Erosion and rust resistance
Concrete is resistant to erosion from the elements. This fact often makes them a better choice over wooden beams for areas with heavy winds or frequent storm weather.
Metal beams may not “erode away” but they face a similar issue with rust. Rust and corrosion have the same ability to wear out the metal pole as erosion does with wooden ones. Concrete is also rot-resistant!
There's no need to worry about lightning strikes or nearby fires with a concrete pole. They will be able to stand sturdy against any flames that may occur. Among other places where this offers an advantage, this makes them particularly good for areas that may be prone to forest fires.
Resisting the fire helps to ensure they will stay standing and not provide more fuel to the flames.
Termites are another major way that wooden poles find themselves in disrepair. While termites have evolved to digest wood, they are not yet able to eat rock. As such, concrete poles are safe from them.
Challenges of Concrete Poles
Difficult to Fix
It’s much more difficult to patch up concrete than it is to patch up wooden or metal beams. Compromised concrete poles may need total replacement. The danger they pose of potentially falling over leads to special safety considerations for repair as well.
Difficult to Haul
The reason concrete is the strongest material for utility poles is because it is also the heaviest. With that weight comes an issue with transportation. A 30 ft. treated wood utility pole will weigh around 700-800lbs. A telephone pole of comparable size from concrete will weigh nearly 2000 lbs on the low end.
That translates into transportation considerations and increased costs for hauling.
Dangerous by Roadside
Concrete utility poles are not good options for poles needed by high-trafficked roads. If a vehicle were to collide with it, the incident would be much worse with concrete than it would be from wood. Wood has the potential to snap, concrete can likely withstand the force of a car.
It is also worth considering the risk associated with a potential fall. While they are sturdy, there is always the potential that some fault will crop up. Should a concrete pole fall, there is much greater potential for catastrophe than there would be with a metal or wooden pole.
Concrete poles require more energy in their creation than any other material used. In addition to the factors associated with the creation of concrete poles, there is the issue of transportation. With the increased weight of the pole, it will likely take multiple trips
Even if one concrete pole can make it in one trip, trucks are typically able to haul many wooden beams at once with ease. Concrete poles may last longer and avoid the cutting down of trees but they are by no means a more earth-conscious route.
Blackwood is Here to Help!
Regardless of which material you decide to use for your poles in North America, Blackwood is here to assist. Specializing in hauling utility poles, we’re able to help whether you choose douglas fir or southern yellow pine wood poles, steel poles, or concrete utility structures. Our certified, women-owned trucking company is able to handle all your utility pole hauling needs!
Start a conversation with us today by calling (812)676-8770 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to talk you through our hauling service available to meet your needs!