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What is Ferrocement?

Ferrocement is a composite material composed of a mortar reinforced with light steel fabric/mesh, used to form thin sections. (Ferrocement should not be confused with ‘Ferroconcrete’, a name given to early reinforced concrete.) The construction process consists of forming the shape of the required structure with a mesh of fine reinforcement, such as chicken wire or expanded metal. Multiple layers may be used to achieve the required density of steel and the whole may be stiffened with a few standard reinforcing bars. A stiff mortar is then applied to both sides of the layer of reinforcement known as the ‘armature’) and finished to the required thickness.

The technique is very labour intensive, as the mortar is generally hand-applied although can be spray applied. Thus it is mainly used in developing countries where labour costs are low. In the West, the main application for ferrocement has been for the construction of boat hulls, including racing yachts. It has also been used for roof shells and in decorative applications. Ferrocement is more widely used in Asia and parts of the Pacific. Here it is used for fishing boats of various sizes. In addition the material is used for water tanks, storage structures and the like.

Acknowledgement: The Concrete Society