Can FRP Be Used To Build Sunshades?

A: Absolutely. Fiberglass can be used in all different types of applications—sunshades are one of them. Architects love the cosmetic design of fiberglass and the flexibility with colors and shapes.

Office and other commercial building spaces in major metropolitan areas are quite expensive to suitably maintain. For one, the rent is usually much higher than in less populated areas and also, the utilities tend to cost more. This is especially true during the summer months in hotter climates such as the southern states.

During the peak months of the summer season, electric bills for these buildings skyrocket because of the HVAC system usage. Trying to keep a large office building at a comfortable 72° consistently, gets expensive.

That however can be mitigated to some extent without any major structural modifications to the building. FRP sunshades are what make this possible. They are in high demand from property management companies to retrofit existing buildings. Additionally, architects designing new structures are implementing them as a solution to reduce energy costs.

Looks Cool, Keeps Cool

A hot trend in commercial building renovations has seen business owners in these cities using FRP sunshades. Even though a building might be 40 years old or greater, FRP sunshades can easily be retrofitted to their building. These sunshades not only offer practical and functional benefits but also add aesthetic value. So, you get a valuable design feature that also helps keep your building cool. It’s no wonder that businesses are turning to these innovative solutions.

The flexibility of FRP sunshade production allows for many different architectural styles and colors to be implemented. For example, a project we’ve done for a client in downtown Houston was a mid-century-style office space. The building was getting beat down with direct sunlight most of the afternoon. The design of the structure played a large part in that, but major renovations would be cost-prohibitive.

Working with their architects and engineers alongside our design consultants, we were able to match the style and color scheme. We were able to create highly effective sunshades that looked like they were part of the original structure.

The new sunshades created better shading, boosted energy efficiency, and lowered HVAC usage considerably. The building owners knew they wanted sunshades from the onset of the project. However, at first, they were leaning towards traditional building materials and clad them in metal. After discussing the cost of materials, and the huge installation cost of going with metal. Their engineers and architects decided FRP sunshades were the best option.

Why Choose FRP?

If their engineers wanted to retrofit the building with sunshades that were both efficient, practical, and with good aesthetics—they had factors to consider. Houston is known for extreme weather, specifically weather with high winds such as tropical storms.

Metal may be strong, but tropical storms bring with it a lot of saltwater from the gulf. Saltwater is corrosive to metal which presents a liability. Additionally, the paint would need constant maintenance due to oxidation. The final straw—the installation cost. Heavy-duty cranes, special tools, and a lot of manpower would be required.

However, FRP solves all the aforementioned issues. With the same strength as steel but a fraction of the weight—installation would be drastically less expensive. It would not require special tools or heavy load crane work. Additionally, FRP has been put through some of the most brutal stress tests in the engineering industry. They hold up through hurricane-force winds, saltwater and other corrosives, and hail impact.

Not only do they hold up, but they are completely unfazed by these extreme conditions. Also, as far as maintenance goes, with the color being impregnated into the FRP—painting is a non-issue. It doesn’t need painting and doesn’t fade. In fact, FRP is virtually maintenance-free.

What Is FRP?

FRP stands for fiber reinforced plastic and is a composite of several substances, mainly thin strands of glass, and polymer resin. When you combine the two, they become fiber-reinforced plastic, also known as FRP.

The plastic resins bind the glass strands within the structural layer. Different additives can be added to these resins as well. These additives give the FRP certain traits such as corrosion resistance, and fire resistance. The deciding factor is which type of resin is used in production.

At DEFI our FRP is manufactured in a 3-tier layered process, these layers, are called laminates and they act as a binding agent to hold together the glass fibers in the structural layer of FRP, there are three laminates:

  • Structural Layer: This is the base layer that gives the composite structural integrity and temperature resistance.
  • The Chemical Barrier Layer (CBL): This layer is what contains the chemical resistance that allows FRP to resist corrosion so well.
  • Topcoat (Surface Veil): Depending on the application the FRP is being used for, this layer will add additional, use-specific traits.

The most convincing reason to use FRP is its unique ability to be so light, while also being as durable as steel and without being vulnerable to corrosives. That is why so many industries such as oil and gas, automotive, waterworks, and chemical plants use FRP.

Customization Options

FRP composites are highly customizable, not just for sunshades but for any application or design you can envision. Anything that you would normally build with wood or metal can be made infinitely better and more durable with this composite.

It can be manufactured to be translucent, opaque, semi-transparent, or it can even have the color mixed right into the resin bath. Additional surface layer options include things like different textures to increase safety.

Shape profiles vary greatly as well with the pultrusion method of creating FRP. This process makes shape profiles much easier and able to manufacture on a large scale. This is conducive to creating large complex structures for commercial builds and industrial applications.

Choose DEFI For Your FRP Needs

At DEFI we offer an experienced team with decades of experience in the composites industry. From custom designs to building from complex schematics—we have you covered. We specialize in pultruded FRP that is typically used for structural applications.

Whether it’s sunshades for your building or catwalks and platforms for your production plant, DEFI can build it better.

Contact us today and let us help your project come to life—better, stronger, and more durable.

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