Bollard Barriers for Store Front Protection

Bollard Barriers for Store Front Protection


ALL Readers: The purpose of this page is to give a rough overview of some basic bollard barrier systems. 
Our Definitions: We have come up with many of these definitions for our own purposes. They are not necessarily definitions that are used by others in the industry.

What is Bollard Barrier?

A bollard barrier or barricade is a line of bollards installed to inhibit vehicles from from crossing the line, while still allowing passage of non-vehicular traffic, such as pedestrians on foot, or people in wheelchairs or delivery persons with carts etc. Often called Perimeter Security Bollard Systems, Bollard Barriers have a multitude of applications and range widely in vehicle stopping capability. Here, we are talking specifically about Building Entrance and Store Front Protection from both errant vehicles and ram-raids.

You Cannot Deter an Accident

Obviously, you can’t deter an accident. Errant vehicles happen. Accidents happen at any time and they are most dangerous when employees and customers are present. It’s not only ram-raids you should consider, but accidents too. It’s one thing to lose money. It’s quite another to lose a life.


Bonus: People are Protected by Default

If a bollard barrier is designed stout enough to stop most ram-raids, it should also stop most accidental store front damage events. By stopping ram raids, you have the added bonus that people are protected too.

Bollard Spacing

Bollards that form a perimetery security line should be spaced no less than 3′ (36″) apart and no greater than 5′ (60″) apart. The minimum 3′ is to satisfy ADA requirements and may be different for your jurisdiction. The maximum 5′ is the recommendation to stop cars because they are generally no narrower than 5.5′ wide (66″). It is important to note a couple things. The closer they are together, the better the chances that a car will hit more than one.  The spacing is the distance between the outer diameters (OD) of the pipes, not the on-center distance. For example, a 6″ Schedule 40 has a 6 5/8″ outer diameter and so a maximum 60″ spacing would yield a 66 5/8″ on-center layout.

Errant Vehicles Happen

  • Operator error like “I hit the gas pedal!”, “I thought I was in reverse!”
  • Operator Error caused by Medical Condition
  • Reckless Drivers
  • Intoxicated Drivers
  • Car accidents
  • Mechanical problems


Ram-Raids are like a smash-and-grab with a vehicle. The criminal uses a car or a truck to smash through your front doors, or even a wall to gain access to your business. Often, the vehicle is stolen and is sometimes left at the scene, but other times driven off and typically ditched. Tens of thousands of dollars of damage is typically the effect on the business owner. In some cases, the thief might just grab a carton of cigarettes. That’s what you’d call a serious nic fit. In other cases, thieves have been known to haul of an ATM, or clean out a jeweler of their diamonds. Basically, if you have something people want, there probably exists a person crazy enough to try and get it.

Please Note: Stopping terroristic raids is outside the scope of this article and outside our realm of knowledge. The topic of this article is Bollard Barriers for Store Front Protection. When we talk about ram-raids, we are talking about burglary, not people on a suicidal mission to destroy. The K12 described below begins to enter the realm of High Security, but there are many levels above that. If you are looking for such protection, here’s a Google Search for “terrorist level security bollards”.

3 Levels of Conventional Bollard Barriers for Store Front Protection

All Store Front Protection Barriers are designed with some expectation that errant vehicles may collide with the barrier while providing substantial protection from ram raids. At St. Paul Sign, we construct barriers with conventional bollards in either of three ways:

  1. Deep Pier (DP): 36″-48″ deep independent pier footings. Bollard may be rebar reinforced. Pier typically is not reinforced.
  2. Deep Pier/Shallow Trench (DPST): Each bollard shares a “shallow” trench of say, 18″ deep by 22″ wide and the length of the bollard array. Then, each bollard pier extends down to 48″ below grade. Rebar reinforcement is a must.
  3. Deep Trench (DT): all bollards are set into a common reinforced trench 24″ to 30″ wide, 30″ to 36″ Deep and 30″ on each end longer than the bollard array. This is similar to the configuration of the Impact Rated Bollards Barriers (RBB) in next section. Rebar reinforcement of trench is a must.

CBB Codes

It will be helpful to fully name these systems. They are:

  • DP-CBB: Deep Pier Conventional Bollard Barrier (Strong)
  • DPST-CBB: Deep Pier/Shallow Trench Conventional Bollard Barrier (Stronger)
  • DT-CBB: Deep Trench Conventional Bollard Barrier (Strongest)

Deep Pier/Shallow Trench Conventional Bollard Barrier


Rebar Reinforcement

Concrete has very high compressive strength, but a low tensile strength. Tensile weakness means it will be pulled apart maybe easily. Reinforcing the concrete footing helps minimize tensile weakness there. Reinforcing with a couple pieces of rebar within a bollard stiffens it by minimizing the ability for the concrete to crack into pieces and move apart inside.

Matching Pipe to Footing

If the trench footing is virtually immobile, the weak point is going to be the bollard itself so it is important that it’s staunch enough to handle the impact without sheering off, or bending over. Some bending is good, or it would sheer. On the other hand, If the bollard outmatches the footing, the footing is going to shift or give way. These are the concerns of structural and mechanical engineers who work on designing crash-tested bollards. When one is designing a barrier using conventional bollards that are not crash-tested, one should err on the staunch side when selecting a bollard pipe, especially with a massive concrete Deep Trench DT footing. For more certainty in performance, you must use impact or crash rated bollards for your Bollard Barrier.

Bollard Pipe Sizes

> To understand Pipe “Schedule” or “Standard” declarations, see our article on Pipe Schedule vs Tube Gauge.

The CBBs are usually constructed using 6″ Schedule 40 Bollard Pipe. Heavier installations with more stopping capability may use 8″ SCH40, 10″ SCH40 or even 12″ STD (Standard) Bollard Pipe. For 6″ and 8″, we can also use Schedule 80, a thicker walled pipe to maximize capability in a more compact form. See 6″ SCH80 and 8″ SCH80. But, it is usually more effective to go to the next larger pipe diameter rather than a thicker wall.

Codes for systems can be appended with the pipe size like so: DP-CBB-6-40 or DT-CBB-8-40.

No pipe size in code means it is 6″ Schedule 40 by default.

3 Levels of Impact-Rated Bollard Barriers for Store Front Protection

For more certainty in the capability of the system to stop a vehicle of a defined weight at a defined speed, we have ASTM Impact-Rated Bollards at 3 levels of fortitude. (For a more in-depth look, see our Impact Rated Bollards page.)

When installed to specifications, these 3 systems are capable of the following:

  • C40: One properly installed single standalone bollard is engineered and designed to stop a 5,000 lbs. vehicle at 30 mph impact with less than 24″ of vehicle penetration. (Strong)
  • K4: The K4 passed an independent ASTM test of 2,430 lbs. vehicle at 42.6 mph with less than 24″ of penetration. (Stronger)
  • K12: One single standalone bollard has the ability to stop 15,000 lb. vehicle at 50 mph with 47″ of penetration. (Strongest)

RBB Codes

Our “Rated Bollard Barriers” (RBB) have the codes C40-RBB, K4-RBB and K12-RBB.

C40 & K4 Install Diagram

K12 Install Diagram

What is Bollard Penetration?

Penetration is how far the vehicle, at least the main part of the vehicle, goes past the bollard. A successful car stopping bollard can make it through the crumple zone of the vehicle and finally stop at the engine, which doesn’t “crumple”. A failed bollard will bend over, sheer or become uprooted at some point in the crunch, and penetrate an arbitrary or unknown amount past the bollard, depending on how much momentum is in reserve at the failure point in time. Impact and Crash Rated Bollards use penetration distances when describing their effectiveness.

C40 Impact-Rated Bollard Test

Levels of Building Entrance and Store Front Protection

Now that we’ve covered a spectrum of types of bollard barriers, it’s time to determine what is economical and sufficient for your business or organization. In general, the cost of a conventional system (CBB) along with a C40-RBB system is considerably less than a K4 or K12 Impact-Rated system. Here, we list the types of systems that an organization might use:

  • Any organization who wants simple errant vehicle protection: DP-CBB
  • Convenience Store: DP-CBB, DPST-CBB
  • Liquor Store: DP-CBB, DPST-CBB
  • Drug Store: DP-CBB, DT-CBB, DPST-CBB
  • Pawn Shop: DP-CBB, DT-CBB, DT-CBB-8-40
  • Cash-on-Hand Business: DP-CBB, DT-CBB, DT-CBB-8-40
  • Jewelry Store: DT-CBB-8-40, C40-RBB, K4-RBB, K12-RBB
  • Check Cashing Store: DP-CBB, DT-CBB, DT-CBB-8-40, C40-RBB
  • Bank:  DT-CBB-8-40, C40-RBB, K4-RBB, K12-RBB
  • Minor Government Building: DT-CBB, DT-CBB-8-40, K4-RBB
  • Major Government Building: K12-RBB or greater not described here
  • Skyscrapers: K4-RBB, K12-RBB or greater not described here
  • Airports: K12-RBB or greater not described here

Choosing Bollard Barriers for Store Front Protection

You don’t have to outrun the bear, just the other guy!

Grim, but often true. You may not necessarily have to have the highest rated bollard barrier to deter ram raiders. You may just need a basic one that is better than other like businesses nearby. If you are remote, or have something extra special like diamonds or cash, then you may want a high rated bollard barrier after all. In all cases, the strategy is to deter first, stop vehicles second.

1) Deter: To protect your storefront or building entrance, the strategy is to first deter would be ram-raiders by having what looks like a heavy duty system where the risk appears to outweigh the benefits of breaking in by ram-raid. Most often, they use stolen or rented vehicles, so it may be of no concern to the thief what kind of damage the vehicle undergoes. So, it may just be that the risk of bodily injury looks too great to bother with an attempt. Especially so if there are other like businesses equally prone to theft that do not have a bollard barrier.

2) Stop Vehicles: For one, the most common reason a business gets crashed into is operator error. This makes the first step, to deter, irrelevant. So, you want a system that can stop an out-of-control car up to a certain speed that you reckon is adequate. At the same time, you want a system that can stop a motivated ram-raider from breaking through.

 It’s a Judgement Call

In the end, only you can decide what kind of protection you may need. We are happy to chat with you and/or visit your property and go over options. Surely, there are budgets to work within, and you can let us know what you are comfortable with. Or have us give you a quote an a couple different systems. We’re here to help.

The ASTM K-4 Bollard Crash Test

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