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Steel, concrete or fiber glass storm shelter

Best material. Steel, Concrete or Fiberglass?

In the industry of storm shelters, the above-mentioned materials are used in the manufacturing of storm shelters.

When comparing different options, our clients often ask us about the reason we don’t sell fiberglass or concrete shelters.

 Concrete Storm Shelters

There are still homebuilders or homeowners building safe rooms out of concrete blocks. We understand that sometimes money may not be enough to afford a steel shelter, but while trying to save some money they put their clients and families at risk.

If you must have a concrete shelter, the thickness of the unit’s walls must be 8”, and the concrete at least 4,000 PSI of strength, reinforced with .5” rebar every 12”. Otherwise, the shelter will not be strong enough to withstand severe tornado/hurricane wind forces.

In the following picture, one can appreciate how a piece of wood becomes a bullet that was able to penetrate a concrete sidewalk. This is something that doesn’t happen to our safe rooms made of steel.

Fiberglass Storm Shelters

Storm shelters made out of this type of product have some advantages: they are cheaper, and weight less; they are easier to transport, and they can last over 500 years. There is no human being that will live that long. However, they do have several drawbacks. They break with time, provoking water leaks, and mold. In addition, in the presence of fluctuating ground temperatures, and shifting earth conditions, spider cracks tend to develop. Over time, a fiberglass unit will present premature failure. Similarly, there have been reports of several cases where fiberglass shelters float out of the ground due to the water pressure.


What Happens If a Storm Shelter Is Not Properly Anchored?

At Torshel, we only use steel reinforced units with strong steel frames. If the unit will be buried, it is protected with an epoxy resin, accompanied by a corrosion inhibitor such as a “sacrificial” anode.

All our in-ground shelters are well anchored to the slab with iron rods, and if the unit will be placed outdoors, 5-cubic yards of concrete is poured around its perimeter to keep it from “floating” out of the ground in the vent of saturated soil conditions.

There are several companies that do not anchor storm shelters in a proper manner. The following pictures show the results of inappropriate anchoring procedures.