Metal Bollards: Classic Style, Modern Security

Steel pipe bollards aren’t exactly pretty. Cover them with classic cast-iron covers.

iron bollard sleeve architecture
Iron bollard covers adorn the Nashville symphony center

We’d like to think all drivers follow the rules of the road, but many people ignore the rulebook when it’s more convenient not to. Clear road boundaries and signage alone are rarely enough to prevent vehicles from entering restricted areas. Modern site security, safety, and asset protection often include environmental design, like the humble steel pipe bollard. 

For property managers and owners, security posts are an effective way to protect site assets. They let individuals pass through easily, but block large vehicles. Protective steel pipe bollards or attack preventing crash-rated bollards hold up under vehicle impact.

Plain security posts are economical and serviceable but they tend to stick out as an obnoxious eyesore anywhere else.

Thankfully, you don’t have to choose between security and design. Decorative metal bollard covers, in cast-iron and steel, have a long history. They’ve been perimeter markers and protectors of stonework well before the advent of the automobile. 

The modern bollard

As vehicles gained speed, what once was attractive perimeter marking became a way to protect against crash.

Where the threat is an inattentive driver, security posts made of steel filled concrete became an option to make public spaces beside city roads safer. These steel pipe security bollards are manufactured from structural grade steel and filled with concrete.

Unfortunately, vehicles have also become a weapon for everything from smash-and grab-robberies to extremist violence. In these cases, perimeters are being formed with crash-rated bollards (as well as lampposts, planters, and benches). 

In both these cases, though, the beauty of previous perimeters has given way to necessity. These border on ugly…or at least industrial.

Metal bollards, inside and out

Bollards are interesting, because metal decorative covers can be either stand-alone bollards or they can be used as covers over security pipe. In this case, the metal bollard is actually nested bollards: security or crash bollard inside, metal bollard outside.

Choosing how to dress a bollard so it looks consistent with surrounding areas means paying attention to the vernacular use of bollard design. 

Steel pipe bollards can be left in fairly industrial form. They’re often covered with plastic sleeves or painted yellow in parking lots, near utilities, or by loading docks. They’re part of the urban landscape. These same bollards would be a bit jarring in front of storefront entrances and near beautiful architecture. They have the habit of bringing a parking-lot overtone.  

galvanized steel pipe security bollards

Yet these types of bollards must be protected from the environment or they’ll rust. Paint is the cheap-and-cheerful solution: after that bollard-nesting is the way to protect the security pipe. Paint will often scratch and need ongoing attention and even when painted black security bollards tend to look unfinished. 

Covers allow low-maintenance alternative to painting, and they’re available in a variety of materials and styles. 

What is a bollard cover?

Bollard covers are protective sleeve that fit over steel posts. They serve the dual purpose of looking stylish and protecting the inner steel pipe from corrosion. Bollard covers come in a variety of sizes, materials, and styles to compliment different settings. Plastic is available for an inexpensive solution. For weight and profile, metal bollards are available in 316 stainless steel, powder coated iron, steel, or aluminum.

Stainless steel bollard covers

Stainless steel bollard covers give security posts a modern, sleek look while protecting them from corrosion. Thanks to their distinctive aesthetic and superior wear resistance, they are often used to dress up security posts in front of office buildings, shopping plazas, and other modern architecture. Maintenance costs vary depending on the stainless steel grade, street conditions, and how often they are touched. A busy location with lots of pedestrians will probably need a quick weekly wash with soap and water to keep things shiny and fingerprint-free, while more secluded locations only need to be washed a few times a year to stay in good condition. De-icing and salting can damage stainless steel, so pick a corrosion resistant grade like 316 if your location gets lots of cold weather.

stainless steel bollards with reflective tape
Steel pipe bollards with stainless steel covers guard a hospital entrance

Architectural bollards: classic style

Powder-coated metal bollard covers are a high-end option for locations where looks matter. They come in beautiful, distinctive designs to compliment landscaping and architecture. Metal bollard covers are just regular steel, aluminum, or ductile iron bollards, placed over security pipe. This combination is a win-win for style and functionality. 

decorative metal bollard covers

Plastic bollard sleeves

Plastic bollard sleeves are inexpensive, durable, and dead-easy to maintain. They come in a variety of colors, from bright, attention grabbing shades with reflective tape, to subtle colors that compliment the surrounding architecture. There is no paint to chip or scratch, which makes them ideal for high-traffic areas with a risk of rough use or vandalism.

yellow plastic bollard sleeves

Decorative plastic bollard covers

Decorative polyethylene bollard covers imitate the aesthetic of metal bollards without the high-end price tag. They also do less damage to vehicles in minor collisions than the metal bollards they are modelled after. There is usually no paint to chip or scratch, but some fancier finishes might have a texture or surface sheen that can be damaged by heavy wear.

ornamental plastic security post covers

Decorative metal bollard covers are available in ductile iron, steel or aluminum. All of Reliance Foundry’s decorative metal bollard covers are powder coated or given Iron-Armor to protect against corrosion and wear; select from one of six standard colors or enquire about custom color options.

Plastic bollard covers provide cost-effective protection and highlighting available for steel pipe bollards. For the most discerning applications, stylish stainless steel bollard covers are also available.