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Advantages of Fiberglass in Steeples and Religious Ornaments

Fiberglass molding techniques make it possible to replicate various building materials such as wood, gold, copper, terra cotta, marble, granite and stones, which are native to particular geographical areas throughout the world. Fiberglass is a feasible alternative to some cost-prohibitive traditional materials.

These replicated materials are used to manufacture fiberglass ornaments with religious significance that have been used for centuries. Crosses, domes, steeples, cupolas, and finials are some of the religious ornaments that have enhanced and diversified religious structures from other buildings.

Fiberglass is a desirable material to replicate the unique shapes and styles of different ornaments, which can distinguish a structure's religious denomination. Religious institutions are increasingly building structures in the United States that were once only native to regions throughout Europe, Asia and Africa.

What Is Fiberglass?
In its simplest form, FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic) is a material system consisting of a plastic resin matrix, glass fiber reinforcement, and suitable additives. Mud and straw is an example of a form of composite; the mud acts as a resin matrix, while the straw is the reinforcing fiber. These composite materials are combined and processed by one of a number of methods to meet certain performance and appearance requirements as a finished component or composite.

Fiberglass allows for greater design flexibility. It is non-corrosive, strong, lightweight, and maintenance-free, and it can be erected efficiently and economically. Per unit weight, fiberglass is among the strongest commercial materials available. Pound for pound, fiberglass is stronger than concrete, steel, or aluminum.

Advantages of FRP
New innovative technologies and molding techniques make fiberglass indistinguishable from authentic materials. Fiberglass can be molded into a number of different finishes to mimic wood, stone, terra cotta, concrete, steel, marble, granite, copper, and other popular building materials.

Finishes can range for a smooth dull matte to a high gloss polished look, or a slight texture to a rough stone texture. FRP parts are chosen over other material because it is lightweight, cost effective, corrosion resistant, and is virtually maintenance free. Fiberglass products can be painted or the color can be molded in the surface.

Because FRP begins with liquid polymer resins and formable glass fibers, the finished shape can be curved, corrugated, ribbed, or contoured in a variety of ways, with varying thickness.

Fiberglass is very practical when compared with the material, maintenance, and installation cost of other traditional materials. One should not assume that the material cost of fiberglass is low, but the installation methods and procedures boast lower installed cost and lower life-cycle cost.

Stone or terra cotta decorative ornaments can become dangerous when a building's supporting structure deteriorates to carry the load of a solid, heavy material. Usually stone or terra cotta features require additional robust framing and attachment areas.

Fiberglass elements typically weigh 1.5 to 2.5 pounds per square foot and can be attached to a building without heavy steel supports or structural rehabilitation of the attachment areas on a building. Intricate details that are molded into fiberglass such as brackets, medallions, steps, drip edges, and curves add rigidity and strength to fiberglass elements. In most cases, minimal pressure-treated wood blocking or galvanized steel studs is sufficient for attachment.

Fiberglass ornaments can be screw-fastened, bolted, or hung onto a concealed clip system. Fasteners should be galvanized, stainless steel, or non-corrosive. General contract workers and carpenters are frequently capable of installing fiberglass without heavy lifting equipment and cranes.

The ability to reproduce shapes and sizes of complex configurations allows designers the freedom to recreate historic shapes and finishes without sacrificing the authentic look.

Restoration projects using fiberglass products are gaining further popularity and opening the eyes of owners, builders, architects, engineers, and developers. The restoration market for FRP has not yet blossomed anywhere near its potential.

This article is courtesy of Architectural Fiberglass, www.fiberglass-afi.com.

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Religious Product News