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Landscape Maintenance and Perimeter Renewal

Spruce up bollards to keep property looking fresh

September 27, 2018

Three beautiful maritime bollards guard the corner of a sidewalk: plantings in the background
A site assessment and maintenance in the fall can address damage and prevent corrosion.

A landscape maintenance schedule should contain a reminder to inspect and maintain site furniture. It is especially helpful to look things over in the fall before the coming winter brings rain, snow, and de-icing chemicals. Iron or steel site furnishings, including bollards, are vulnerable to corrosion if there are chips or scratches that expose raw steel. When outdoor conditions are wet or salty, corrosion can be accelerated. Sometimes, a site inspection leads a landscaper or planner to look at the design of a location with fresh eyes. A fall inspection may lead to the spring renewal of the style of a perimeter. Whether you are looking for bollard maintenance or renewal, here are the steps you can take to keep your site perimeter secure, welcoming, and attractive.

Maintain function of moving parts

A yearly inspection is necessary to keep all bollards looking their best, but operable bollards—those that telescope into receivers or hinge flat to the ground—will usually need a little extra care to keep their working parts in order. An all-purpose lubricant applied three or four times per year to moving parts can ensure the smooth operation of an operable bollard. If debris has gotten into a below-ground bollard receiver, vacuuming it out will remove some of the grit that can cause wear-and-tear over time.

Our technical guide for retractable bollards provides detailed tips for their maintenance, as well as providing solutions to issues such as: “I’ve inserted the key but the lock won’t turn,” and “The bollard will not retract.”

A line of dark bollards stand in the snow, connected with draping chains
Chains hook to eyes with quick-links. They can be installed at several points on the bollard.

Replacing accessories

Sometimes a maintenance check-up reveals that a lid has been broken or removed from a bollard receiver. Or perhaps someone has misplaced a bollard chain, which managers can remove to increase a perimeter’s permeability. These parts are easily re-ordered and re-installed.

The hinged lid that flips up from standard removable bollard receivers are simple to replace, and do not mean replacing the entire unit. The lid is held in place by two screws recessed under the lip of the receiver top. Contact sales for individual receiver lids without the mount.

Bollard chains are hooked to “chain eyes,” the loops fastened into a bollard, with quick links. When organizations remove the chains, often they also remove the links, for aesthetic preference. Check to see if there are links for the chain eyes, or whether those need replacing too.

The LED light caps in our solar bollard lines can be replaced if they are damaged, but this is rare. Their hardiness is well proven both at our warehouse and in the real world. Specialized solar bollard batteries are available for the R-8911 solar bollard line.

Replacing bent bollards

Bollards are there to help direct vehicles. Whether they are impact-resistant or not, they are often placed at a perimeter near traffic, and so are vulnerable to being hit. Oftentimes these accidents just lead to dings or scrapes, but sometimes a bollard can be bent or deformed enough to warrant a closer look.

Retractable bollards that slide into a below ground receptacle can be so bent on impact that they can no longer be lowered. Happily, vehicle strikes rarely damage the below-ground receptacle, and it is only the main bollard body that needs to be replaced, without any new digging or other disruption.

On a narrow urban sidewalk, mid-block bollards protect a line of homes
The bent bollards show how corrosion accelerates when large impacts expose raw steel.

Security bollards that are installed with concrete deep into the substrate depend on the integrity of the full bollard body to provide impact-protection. If they are bent or badly damaged, they will need to be dug-up and replaced to provide maximum impact protection.

Touch-up paint for scratches and scuffs

Durable color on site furnishings is often provided with powder-coating. Powder-coats are electrostatically applied in an even layer, and then baked to create a hard, impenetrable resin.

Although powder-coat can be redone, it cannot be redone on site, so for routine, small maintenance jobs, paint is normally used. Bollards that are lightly scratched can usually be refreshed with touch-up paint.

Like buying a paint pen for a vehicle, touch-up paint on a weathered bollard will not be an exact color match. Even if paint and powder-coat are very close in shade, aging and gloss will make them visually distinct. There are a few techniques to help the touch-up blend in.

Small-sized aesthetic damage: keep the fix local

For a scratch or scuff that only removes a small layer of the powder coat, touch-up paint should be applied only to the affected area and not to either side of the lines of damage. Using this technique will make the damage far less obvious than painting a large patch or square.

Medium-sized aesthetic damage: stand back

Medium sized damage will generally require spray paint to rectify, which will mean a more obvious color or shine mismatch. One way to minimize this effect is to stand slightly back from the surface, firing the nozzle from 2-3 feet back. Start 3 feet away, and then move closer if needed. Depending on the size of the area, you might want to mask off the bollard around it: however, a mist of droplets of the paint that fade away into the rest of the bollard, without creating a strong line, is what you’re looking for. You’re airbrushing, by way of spray-paint can.

The beginning of real damage: scratched to raw steel

If your bollard has been scratched to raw steel, corrosion can and will set in. Unaddressed rust beneath paint or powder coat will slowly expand out from the damaged area, causing surface bubbling and chips to begin to flake away. Addressing corrosion before it starts is important when dealing with site furniture.

A regular paint is not enough to be completely protected from the damage caused by rust. Any scratch or ding that exposes steel or iron should be primed and painted, although there are both spray and roll-on paints that have both primer and paint in one. These work well.

Bollard-wide injury

For some locations and situations, the best thing to do is simply paint the full bollard. You can sand it first, if you’re looking for a cleaner look, or paint the whole thing dings and all, if you don’t mind a slightly shabby (but fully-protected) surface.

For any full-coverage solution it’s important to first clean the bollard, removing debris and loose paint. If there is already rust on the bollard, you can sand and scrape, and there are primers that go on top of rust to help ready the surface.

Beside a lake, a “t” shaped bollard for mooring boats has chipped paint and is rusting
This maritime bollard has seen many coats of paint—and is due for another!

Redoing powder coat

Many years of touch-ups to a bollard over scratches and around dings can leave the bollard looking a little ragged. If the bollard is in good condition, the powder coat can be redone, and the bollard will come out looking brand new. This process cannot be done on the street, however, so security bollards that are set into the concrete will often just have to live with re-paint or color. However, metal bollards that can be removed—either because they slip over an inset security bollard, or because they are anchored but not embedded—can be easily shipped back for “burn off” and recoat.

In this process, the bollard is heated until the powder coat loses adhesion and falls off as a dust. The bollard is cooled, cleaned, and then powder-coated again. If site changes have occurred over the years since the bollard was first installed, the powder coat color can be changed!

Although shipping, burn-off and re-powdering are more expensive than simple paint, they do make an old but sturdy bollard look new again, and are a cheaper option than complete replacement.

Covers for style update

Just as interior spaces can be refreshed with a whole new design, so too can the outside of a building be re-imagined so that it no longer looks dated or worn-out. Fortunately, there is a full selection of metal and plastic covers to slip over security bollards, allowing the look of things to change without requiring the excavation of deeply set concrete and steel posts.

Plastic bollard covers, in a variety of attractive colors, can make an old, dinged security bollard look clean and new. The cover is protective of the post, and can be scratched or dented without exposing the bollard beneath. Because the plastic is colored all the way through the material, the damage is often unnoticeable. Unlike paint, which can leave a bollard vulnerable with a scrape to raw steel, a cover will not bloom with rust over the course of the year. It helps protect the bollard underneath from corrosion, and stops corrosion from being visible on the surface. Plastic covers can be simple columns ringed in reflective tape or decorative, traditional shapes that echo the look of cast iron.

Stainless steel covers are a very popular modern look, in both flat and domed tops. They can take underappreciated security bollards from graffitied, messy eye sores to sleek modern site furnishings.

Cast iron and aluminum metal bollards in decorative shapes can be installed alone on mountings (and often are), but can also be used as the cover to a security pipe with concrete core. Using these metal bollards can instantly transform a site. Where grocery parking lots, gas stations, and utility meters might use plastic covers to cover and protect their security poles, buildings wishing to make sure that the bollards enhance an architectural façade might prefer the look of history, in traditional iron bollards.

Yearly maintenance for a beautiful site

Depending on the type of destruction, damaged bollards are less effective in guiding pedestrians or securing perimeters. A row of posts at angles and bleeding rust will also make a site feel neglected or unwelcoming. Taking a little time to care for bollards and other site furnishings gives the opposite feeling: that there are people who care for this stretch of land, and keep it looking sharp. Getting ahead of the problem with a yearly inspection, especially to prevent corrosion from ever starting, can maintain site integrity for a long time.

Plain pipe security bollards are necessary safety items around some perimeters, but they also offer an opportunity to create an atmosphere with a well-chosen style. As trends change, or businesses or organizations rebrand, security bollard renewal or the addition of covers can provide an opportunity to change the aesthetic of a place.

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