What's the Difference: Rebar vs. welded-wire mesh
Concrete has great strength under compression. Under tension, however, concrete doesn’t fare so well. For example, as concrete cures, it loses water, which causes it to shrink and crack. Similar cracks open as concrete endures the rigors of changing seasons. Reinforcing concrete ensures that the cracks that do develop don’t go far, which could lead to substantial failure. To reinforce concrete, you can use rebar or welded-wire mesh. Either material can be engineered to work in almost any application. With a few exceptions, there is no difference in the tensile strength between each material as long as they’re installed correctly. Choosing the reinforcement becomes a matter of the job-site conditions, the availability of the product, and the way you prefer to work.
Rebar is nothing more than common steel rods that come in sizes ranging from #3 (3/8 in. dia.) to #18 (2-1/4 in. dia.). For residential use, #6 rebar is usually the largest size used.
Rebar’s use depends on its application. In a sidewalk, driveway, or slab, rebar is wire-tied into a grid pattern, usually 12 in. or 18 in. on center, then is supported above grade on small piers so that it ends up in the center of the slab. Building codes dictate what size rebar should be used for which job, as well as the appropriate grid spacing.
In walls, rebar specifications also are determined by code. In some areas and uses, you need to install a grid pattern over the entire wall; in others, you need only a few lengths of rebar.
Rebar clearly outperforms welded-wire mesh in one application: When reinforcing piers or columns, rebar offers superior strength and maneuverability.
Cost: $13 per 20-ft. rod (#4)
Welded-wire mesh is a steel grid that can be used in many of the same applications as rebar. Because welded-wire mesh is usually…