Water-Filled Barriers vs. MASS vs. Concrete Barriers: Pros & Cons

Posted on in Concrete Barriers, Helpful Guides, Plastic Barriers
close-up of jersey barriers on a road

When it comes to choosing the right type of security barrier for your construction or traffic management project, there are a few key options to consider. The public and private sectors often have varying security requirements depending on the size, scale, and complexity of a project.

In any given situation, particularly if there are going to be road disruptions and heavy foot traffic, certain types of protective barriers will work better than others. This is why it’s important to consider the distinct types of security barriers and blocks at your disposal and see whether they suit your project requirements.

Water-filled barriers, MASS (multi-application safety system) barriers, and traditional concrete barriers can work for a plethora of construction and engineering projects. Each type of protective barrier has its own unique advantages and limitations. In this short blog, we’ll compare the pros and cons of these three popular barrier types to help you select the best fit for your specific needs.

Water-Filled Barriers: An Overview

Water-filled barriers, also sometimes called water walls, are modular plastic barriers that are designed to be linked together and filled with water for stability. Made from a sturdy, resilient and UV-resistant polyethylene coating, these heavy-duty barriers can suit a range of applications.

Let’s look at the main pros and cons of water-filled barriers.

Benefits of Water-Filled Barriers

  • Lightweight and portable – Individual water barriers are light enough to be moved manually when empty and with minimal risk. This makes construction site security extremely easy and quick to set up and take down.
  • Quick and easy installation – Interlocking these empty plastic safety barrier units together is fast and straightforward. When placed together, these interlocking water barriers can create curves, straight paths and bends as needed.
  • Minimal maintenance – Water-filled barriers don’t require much ongoing upkeep at all. Their sturdy protective coating offers excellent weatherproofing and damage resistance, so they will serve you well for a long time.
  • High visibility – The bright colours of these barriers stand out, improving visibility and safety. Reflective strips can further enhance visibility at night.
  • Non-damaging – Water-filled barriers don’t risk scuffing or scratching floors – or at least not as severely – as concrete barriers sometimes can.

Considerations of Water-Filled Barriers

  • Can leak or be punctured – If the outer polyethylene coating gets damaged, the barrier will begin to lose its stability as water leaks out. Proper handling is important to avoid punctures.
  • Limited weight and stability – While the water filling improves the barriers’ stability, these barriers can be shifted by vehicle impact more easily than heavier barriers.
  • Can freeze in cold weather – The water inside makes them susceptible to freezing in cold temperatures if not properly.
  • Not as durable long-term – The plastic can, over a long period, naturally degrade particularly in direct sunlight, whereas other sturdier options will keep their appearance a lot longer.

What Are MASS Barriers?

MASS barriers are flexible security barriers that connect like most other types of blocks. A MASS base unit is galvanised and powder coated – offering optimum weatherproofing and rust protection – creating a smooth finish that makes it very difficult to climb, which is handy for sites that have encountered trespassers before.

Here are the main pros and cons of MASS safety barriers.

Advantages of MASS Barriers

  • A broad variety of products – MASS products range from the MASS Pedestrian Guard and Siteguard to the Visrail Guard and Screenguard. These barriers are configured with additional steel fencing to improve security, making them highly flexible for different sites.
  • Durable and long-lasting – Built from galvanised steel, MASS safety barriers stand up well to impact, abrasion, and outdoor elements.
  • Highly visible – Finished in Red or White they are clearly visible and suited to highway works, with the design providing high levels of security and vandal deterrence.
  • Easy to handle – These barriers are easy to transport and adjust, with the base unit only weighing 40-60kg. The interlocking mechanism makes them easy to use as a fencing solution, where no drilling or coring is required.
  • Low maintenance – Aside from occasionally checking for any structural damage, MASS barriers require little ongoing maintenance.

Disadvantages of MASS Barriers

  • Non-permanent – While MASS security barriers are a regular go-to option, they are not designed as a permanent traffic calming system. These situations may call for more stable and anti-ram road barriers.
  • Not always ideal for high-speed areas – These barriers may not suit some situations which have high traffic speeds, without additional traffic calming measures or lane restrictions due to offering insufficient protection.

An Overview of Concrete Barriers

From simple concrete jersey barriers and interlocking concrete blocks to TVCBs, V blocks, and delta blocks and a range of other precast barriers, concrete is a proven go-to material for sturdy and immovable traffic barriers.

Concrete safety barriers can be used in a range of applications like defined entry and exit points to construction sites, managing open space traffic flow, and crowd management and control.

Looking at the several types of concrete barrier blocks will give you a stronger indication of which ones would suit your needs best. However, let’s look at the main benefits of concrete blocks and whether there are any considerations to be aware of.

Benefits of Concrete Barriers

  • Extreme durability – Precast concrete is extremely heavy and permanent, offering tremendous strength and longevity, suitable for motorways and areas of heavy foot traffic, and everything in between.
  • Excellent stability – Concrete barriers are extremely difficult to displace due to their sheer mass and weight.
  • Weather resistant – Concrete holds up well to rain, sun, heat, cold and other outdoor elements. These heavy-duty barriers and blocks can be reused repeatedly.
  • Highly secure – They can secure building sites and vacant properties, acting as a retaining wall or blocking access to unwanted visitor
  • Customisable – Concrete barriers can come in a range of sizes, designs, and configurations, we can paint them and add company logos to suit your use.

Are There Any Considerations of Concrete Barriers?

  • Heavy duty and not as easily moved – Concrete barriers, as the name implies, can weigh up to 5 tonnes and require specialist equipment to transport to set up and remove.
  • Not as ‘temporary’ – While Maltaward offers a flexible scheme allowing you to hire concrete barriers, some alternative barriers offer better short-term convenience.

Should You Choose Water, MASS or Concrete Barriers and Blocks for Your Next Construction Project?

When choosing between barrier types and materials, carefully consider where and how they will be installed, what level of stability and protection is required, longevity expectations, aesthetics, and budget.

Each of the above protective barrier types suits a range of purposes. Start by identifying the safety considerations of the site, and choosing the right purchase or hire barrier options that suit the project scope. Lightweight water barriers may offer better short-term protection, MASS barriers may provide a bit more flexibility, while concrete blocks would suit a more durable, long-term, and stable installation.

Working with an experienced barrier supplier like Maltaward will ensure you get expert guidance in selecting the optimal barrier solution for your unique project needs and specifications.

Contact us as early as you can to ensure you have all the necessary security barriers in place before your work gets underway.

Steph Davies
Steph Davies
2 November 2023
I have been using Maltaward for about 12 years, mostly using their traveller eviction services. They have always been very helpful and easy to deal with. No fuss, just get the job done! More recently in my new company, I have brought them in to use utilised their vacant security services. They have worked with me to provide the correct service for our specific requirements. They have a common sense approach to everything. I really cannot recommend the team enough. They have been without a doubt the best security company I have been involved with.
Tom Lampard
Tom Lampard
2 November 2023
Everyone, and I mean everyone!, from the office team to the guys that drop the barriers, at Maltaward is very responsive, polite and genuinely helpful! I have used them at several sites and they have never let me down!
Syanne Mara
Syanne Mara
23 January 2023
Amazing service as always with a quick response time. Maltaward always have a solution to all problems and execute any works or requirements swiftly and thoroughly.
Julie Curtis
Julie Curtis
23 January 2023
Excellent product & delivery. We have ordered from Maltaward several times and we can't fault them.
21 November 2022
Quick turnaround and a good job. Many thanks .
Ian Rhoden
Ian Rhoden
26 August 2022
Great experience Keith was top-notch
Declan Goldie
Declan Goldie
9 August 2022
I have used maltaward for years. Jim has been very helpful throughout this time. Thanks
Sally Atkins
Sally Atkins
1 July 2022
Just wanted to say a big thankyou to your driver Del, although he didn’t like nettles :) he carried out the job with no bother. Would highly recommend Maltaward

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