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Fiber Mesh or Wire Mesh Concrete: What’s Better?

When you’re pouring concrete, whether you’re laying a driveway or setting a foundation it’s important to predict what the concrete is going to do in the coming weeks, months, and years. It isn’t an exact science, but those experienced with the material will be able to look at the area it’s being laid in and predict where and how that concrete is going to crack. Not only that, but skilled contractors will be able to best choose the methods that will prevent that cracking for as long as possible.

Two of the methods used to strengthen concrete are fiber mesh and wire mesh. While both of them have their advantages, it’s important to understand what they are and how they work before the project gets rolling.

Fiber Mesh or Wire Mesh: What’s Better?

Fiber-MeshLet’s start with fiber mesh. Concrete is a slurry when it’s first poured, and as it dries the water inside of it evaporates. This causes minor shrinking, and that shrinking can lead to cracks being formed right out of the gate. A fiber mesh will help keep the drying even, and strengthen the concrete against the cracking that it faces when all of the water goes away. Fiber mesh does not lend any long-term strength though, so once the concrete really does start cracking apart there’s nothing keeping it in check.

Wire mesh is by far the stronger of the two options, provided that it’s lifted up into the concrete rather than just laid down on the ground. The wire mesh actually holds the concrete together while it’s drying, but also for years after. When cracks do form it helps keep the concrete as even as possible, preventing one piece from sinking and another from rising up to create an uneven landscape.Sidewalk at Sibley Hall, Cornell, Sept. 2008  Photo by J. Ochshorn

Which of these two options is better for your project depends on a number of factors. For instance, will your concrete be seeing a lot of heavy traffic or will it just be a walkway to the front door? Are there a lot of extreme weather changes that might put undue stresses on the concrete where a wire mesh would be helpful in standing the test of time? Does the project have the budget for wire mesh, or is fiber mesh all that you can afford for this particular job?

Different projects have different requirements. While wire mesh is certainly stronger, there are times when strength is not the highest priority on the list.

For more information about which kind of concrete would be best for your project simply contact us today!