A complete guide to bollard maintenance

A complete guide to bollard maintenance

Bollards are used to protect both people and buildings, and to do their job well, they need to be kept in good condition. If your bollards are worn or damaged, this could cause them to collapse in a collision with a vehicle, which will put both other vehicles and pedestrians at risk.

If you’ve installed bollards as a security feature, you need to stay on top of bollard maintenance to prolong their lifespan and ensure they can work effectively. Let’s take a look at what can damage your bollards and how to handle these risks depending on the type of bollard you’ve installed.

What are bollards?

You’re probably familiar with bollards as a common public security feature, but if you’re wondering what bollards are and what they do, they are strong, robust posts used to protect areas that are completely pedestrianised or to restrict vehicle access. Bollards also have many other uses. For example, they act as a great security measure for businesses and shop fronts. They prevent the approach of unauthorised vehicles, acting as a great anti-theft security measure by preventing criminals from being able to get close to your business and escape rapidly.

However, in order for bollards to perform optimally, it’s essential that they are correctly maintained. Without regular maintenance and cleaning, bollards can easily develop cracks, bumps and other signs of wear and tear, making them less effective at shielding pedestrian areas, managing traffic flow, protecting public buildings from attacks, and preventing unauthorised access to businesses and car parks

What can damage a bollard?

Although bollards are made from sturdy materials, they can sometimes be damaged or develop wear and tear over time. But what exactly can cause damage to a bollard? Here’s two of the main factors:

Environmental factors

The weather can have a large impact on the condition of a bollard. Going from hot to freezing temperatures can cause cracks over time. Likewise, long periods of heavy rain over the years can result in imperfections, especially where wooden bollards are concerned. 

The location of your bollards is also very important. Bollards in coastal areas can face more wear and tear due to the saltwater spray, especially if they’re made from wood. Bollards in urban areas will have to deal with damage from the greater amount of pollution in the environment, and since bollards are commonly used as a traffic-control measure, it’s likely that most bollards will be exposed to high levels of environmental pollution.

This is why it’s important to check your bollards regularly, especially if there has been an extreme change in weather or your bollards are located in a higher risk environment. Metal bollards are less susceptible to weather damage, but over the years it may create some issues. Whatever material you’ve used, you’ll need to inspect your bollards and make necessary repairs every few months to counteract this inevitable environmental damage.

Human factors

Bollards are usually found next to roads, or within car parks, and this means it’s not unlikely that one or two will come in contact with a vehicle. Bumps and scratches can occur, and over time this may lead to permanent damage to your bollards. A CCTV system can help to document any accidents around your perimeter and to check the severity of the damage. If any serious damage is caused, it is always best to replace the bollard.

In addition to accidental damage, bollards can be subjected to intentional damage and vandalism. Minor damage including graffiti can be dealt with through regular bollard cleaning, but in some cases, vandalism can result in structural damage to the bollard. If this damage is too severe, you need to replace the bollard as soon as possible to keep your security strong.

How to inspect bollards for damage

LED black bollard close up

Learning to check your bollards for damage is a great way to improve their overall maintenance. Regularly inspecting them for cracks and breaks (such as once per month or once every few months) means that they can be fixed quicker and no lasting damage will occur. If you have had your bollards for a long time, the exposure to various weather conditions may have caused them to rust or for parts to loosen. With this in mind, make sure to check them frequently. Dirt can also build-up on bollards, so giving them a quick clean every now and then will improve their performance greatly.

Here are the sorts of issues you should look out for when inspecting bollards:

  • Dirt or atmospheric residue buildup
  • Cracks
  • Bumps and dents (e.g., from vehicle impact)
  • Breakdown of surface finish
  • Rust
  • Loose fixings
  • Malfunctioning mechanisms (such as an automatic bollard that doesn’t raise/lower properly)
  • General wear and tear

If you spot any issues, they should be addressed as soon as possible to prevent them from escalating into more serious damage. Many of these problems can be fixed if you call a professional bollard maintenance team, but in some cases, it may be best to just replace the bollard entirely to ensure that all bollards are equally strong.  

How to maintain bollards

Routine checks and regular cleaning are key for prolonging the lifespan of your bollards. However, each type of bollard requires a slightly different form of maintenance. We have broken down how to maintain the various types of bollards below:

Maintaining metal bollards

two metal bollards with LED lights

Probably one of the most durable of its type, the steel bollard requires very little maintenance, although we would recommend cleaning them every so often to prevent dirt build-up affecting their performance. However, you should refrain from using any abrasive, solvent cleaning products on your steel bollards. These bollards are often galvanised, and abrasive cleaning products can sometimes compromise the integrity of this protective zinc coating, leading to premature rusting. 

Flaws should be relatively noticeable on the steel exterior. If you spot any deep cracks or breaks in any of your electric, automatic or telescopic bollards, it is important to get in touch with your maintenance team. They may be able to repair some of the damage, but it may be best to replace your bollards if they’re seriously damaged in order to maintain your current level of security.

Maintaining concrete bollards

single concrete bollard

Concrete bollards require very little maintenance. Due to their sturdy exterior, it takes a lot to damage this type of bollard, but they can still suffer from dirt build-up due to their rough surface. Keeping concrete bollards clean is essential to their overall maintenance, and you can do this by hosing them down regularly or washing them with soap and water. 

If there are any serious problems with your concrete bollards, such as a car accident chipping one, then it is best to get it fixed before a deep crack develops.

Maintaining wooden bollards

wooden bollards on a pier

One bollard that is relatively susceptible to damage is a wooden bollard. As wood is likely to split or splinter over time, these are unlikely to outlast the lifespan of a metal bollard. However, they are a cheaper alternative. 

When installing wooden bollards, make sure that they have been treated. This will prevent them from drying out due to the loss of natural oils, and splits will become less likely. Regular sanding can also be helpful for getting rid of sharp edges and splinters, which will prevent injuries and reduce the risk of further splitting and damage to the bollard. Treating wooden bollards every six months will ensure that they sustain less damage from environmental factors. However, if they are damaged by a vehicle, they should be replaced straight away. 

Bollard cleaning

In addition to inspecting your bollards for damage and performing necessary repairs, your regular bollard maintenance should also involve bollard cleaning. Not only will this improve their appearance, but it can also maintain the condition of your bollards for longer.

For all bollard materials, you should avoid abrasive cleaning products that can damage the surface. For steel bollards, these types of cleaning products can interfere with their galvanised coating and cause premature rusting. Instead, you should opt for warm soapy water when cleaning your bollards. To remove dirt from small cracks in the surface (or rough textures like concrete), you can use a soft brush to work the soap or detergent into it. Finally, rinse this away with water and dry the surface with a soft cloth.

Why is bollard maintenance cover important?

Having a maintenance team can come in handy if any damage occurs to your bollards, or if they malfunction. It is also a safety regulation to have any machine-operated or automated systems checked biannually. This type of cover can include a lot of helpful maintenance features.

What does our bollard maintenance cover include?

Here at Expert Security, we offer a wide range of bollards along with maintenance services to keep them in top condition. Our maintenance cover includes a professional service, provided by our repair engineers, to regularly check your bollards. This will reduce the risk of malfunction or damage. These routine checks will be scheduled in advance, and afterwards we will provide a range of detailed reports surrounding the visit. 

If this is something you would be interested in, or if you’d like to learn more about our broader range of security products, contact us today. You can also check out our blog for more information on security bollards, including the benefits of automatic bollards and where you can and can’t install them.