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Residential Bollards

Bollards for housing sites

November 27, 2019

A bollard with a thick cannon-shaped base and a ringed cap sits outside a new building
Multi-unit dwellings can use decorative bollards to add to their aesthetic.

Bollards are short posts that provide guidance, access control, placemaking, lighting, or security. Many types of bollards exist to fulfill these different functions. Residential bollard buyers can become confused by the range of options available.

Our sales team often fields calls about the difference in price and function between our products and those on Amazon. Our bollards are often used in residential spaces, but they are commercial grade. We offer substantial, thick-walled posts, made of steel or ductile iron. Our bollards stand between 24-64 inches in height and between 4-13 inches in diameter. Bollards offered by Home Depot or other hardware stores are generally made of lighter cast aluminum or plastic. They usually have thin walls, substantially shorter heights, and smaller diameters.

Small, light-duty residential bollard systems are perfect for many homeowners. Commercial grade bollards are the right choice for others. Heavy-duty bollards can enhance a distinctive estate, light a large area, or act as a driveway barrier. In multi-family dwellings, bollards are useful in many places. They can provide lighting, bike parking, perimeter protection, or wayfinding information.

Driveway bollards

The most common use of commercial-grade bollards at single-family homes is as a driveway barrier. These are especially popular in narrow alleys where non-residents sometimes park in front of the garage. A set of collapsible driveway bollards keeps the garage entrance clear.

Multi-family dwellings with parking lots also install parking bollards. A lockable access post prevents a reserved parking space from being mistaken for visitor parking.

Custom estate bollards

Customized bollards are a way to accessorize and personalize a property. Custom bollards most commonly make small modifications to existing designs. For example, a family might choose a custom cap to place on a traditional bollard body. Custom caps can feature gargoyles, animals, family crests, names, important objects, symbols, or more.

Bollards shaped like fins stick out of the ground along a sidewalk
Fin bollards are both barrier and sculpture. Source: China Plus, November 2018

Creating a fully customized bollard is like commissioning statuary, since the design must go through several iterations and will be cast only once. A large proportion of the cost of a bollard is in original design and pattern making, so these bollards are commissioned art rather than simple manufacturing. Statue-bollards may be very inventive and interesting while continuing to serve the bollard’s typical function.

Lighting bollards

Lit bollards are the most confusing category for residential buyers.

Commercial-grade lighting bollards, hard-wired and solar, are designed as site furniture for public spaces. These bollards must be tough enough to survive attempted vandalism and extreme weather. Anchoring systems must make them hard to steal. To be valuable to cash-strapped facilities, they need to function with minimal maintenance for many years. All public site furnishings must also be safe for the general public. The Americans with Disabilities Act sets out standards to guide this design. Commercial grade bollards should be tall enough not to be a tripping hazard and thick enough to handle minor impacts.

These construction elements put commercial bollards in sharp contrast with the six- or eight- pack of lighting bollards available in garden stores, hardware stores, or on Amazon. The garden store bollard is unlikely to attract vandalism, does not need to comply with ADA, and is often designed to be taken inside during extreme weather.

Bollards for residential construction

Commercial-grade residential bollards often show up around multi-family residential buildings or blocks. There, they serve many purposes.

A series of brick rowhouses on an Old London street
Classical bollards can protect and complement residences in historical districts.

Decorative

Decorative bollards can add to the unity and curb appeal of a site. Town-homes, apartment buildings, and mixed-use residential complexes might add decorative bollards enhance an architectural plan. Bollards can also be used as a decorative upgrade to protect buildings in historic districts.

Perimeter protection

Apartments and townhouse complexes often face arterial roads where traffic is moving at high speed. Hedges are sometimes used for privacy around these developments. Bollards can be placed in or around the hedges or walls to help catch a vehicle’s momentum in the event of a crash.

Bollards also come in handy on very narrow streets and alleys where a driver may misjudge the placement of their vehicle. Thick, impact-resistant posts can be placed in parking lots, around utility -meters, and along the curbs of narrow streets and complexes. One specially designed bollard that is used in these situations is the Martello bollard. Martellos are often placed on corners to catch the wheels of a car making a too-tight turn. Their distinct shape returns the vehicle back to the pavement.

A bollard sits in the middle of the entrance to a residential complex
A well placed bollard can help discourage moving trucks from pulling in too far.

Traffic guidance and variable access control

Housing complexes must manage a few different types of traffic around the perimeter. People moving in and out of a housing complex will try to park as close to their front door as possible. Some areas are safer for people to do this non-standard parking than others. Bollards can prevent trucks from trying to wedge into places that could experience serious structural damage. Similarly, residents will often want to be quite close when loading and unloading groceries. Bollards places around a site can stop vehicles from rolling into unsafe areas.

Emergency, service, and engineering vehicles may need to access parts of the complex that are off-limits to other drivers. Removable or telescoping bollards can be used in these areas to allow for variable access as needed.

Bike parking

Large residential complexes have traditionally had vehicle parking mandated as part of their construction. Bike parking is increasingly important as well. Long term indoor bike parking is particularly useful to residents. Outdoor, short-term parking for visitors and delivery people can be installed as bike bollards.

Residential bollards: uses, costs, and installation

The variety of residential bollards, available in heavy- and light-duty, can make for a confusing range of options to the home buyer. Costs depend on grade and installation.

Amazon or Home Depot bollards have many lighting bollards that sink into the soil on a spike. These shorter, lighter options are perfect for many backyards. They take very little installation know-how: just unwrap and place.

In comparison commercial-grade bollard installation will require bolting, concrete anchoring, or embedding in new concrete. Their additional weight and height require this additional care. Home-owners and residential construction firms look to this grade for various reasons. Traffic management applications should use commercial-grade bollards for safety and dependability. Multifamily dwellings may have the same needs as commercial sites for durability, reliability, and toughness. Large estates can design bollards to create a special sense of place—or may complement their architectural style with stock decorative options.

For any further questions about residential bollards, or your site in particular, please reach out to us!

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