How To Install In-Ground Bollards

How To Install In-Ground Bollards

Bollards are Everywhere

Look around town and you will see there are bollards all over the place. Yet, the average person doesn’t even know what the word “bollard” means. I explain them as, “They are the steel pipes in parking lots that you don’t want to hit with your car!” And they say, “Ahhh, yeah, I know what you mean!”

Being that bollards are seemingly everywhere, there exists a lot of opportunities in any city or town for the installation and maintenance of bollards. Just about any construction company is capable of installing bollards, but installing them correctly without cutting corners is a way to establish your company as the ones to go to.

Of course, there are many types of bollards for various applications and many ways to install them. Here, we layout the steps we take when we are installing common in-ground bollards.


Bollard Installation Considerations

General Planning

In many cases, an engineer has drawn up the specifications for the project. In other cases, the customer just tells you what they want and/or asks your advice. Be sure you’ve thought through the project and how it will affect vehicle traffic flow, pedestrian movement and if it has proper clearances for crowds, ADA, forklifts, pallet jacks, carts etc. But this is beyond the scope of this article.

Safety on the Jobsite

The safety of you, your workers and others is critical and you should be conciencious of all potential hazards. Use cones, barriers and caution tape to divert people and cars from entering construction area. Always cover holes when unattended. Use steel plate if vehicles may drive over holes. For foot traffic, use 3/4″ plywood and sandbag it and put up cones/tape to divert people away.

Definitely, never leave open holes uncovered overnight or unattended.

Finally, it goes without saying that heavy machinery should be operated by qualified, experienced individuals only.


As a contractor or subcontractor, you should certainly have liability insurance with adequate coverage. Most commercial customers will request a Certificate of Insurance (COI) from you that shows your coverage amounts.

Loading Dock Door Bollards
Bollard Installation Minneapolis

Busy Job Site

The picture above shows a worksite in a parking lot for a liquor store that is open and is quite busy. Cones and tape are used with signage to route customers around work area. An “accordion” style plywood wall stands between the bollards and business entrance, keeping customers out of work area while protecting them from potential flying debris.

Bollard Pipe Size

Bollard Pipe Diameter

Most of the time, we are installing 6″ bollards. These are the most common bollard size. 4″ shouldn’t be used to stop a car, but may help deter vehicles and protect building corners or machinery. 5″ SCH80 (thicker walled) is similar in performance to 6″ SCH40 and is used sometimes for budgetary reasons. Rarely, 8″ pipes are used where greater security is desired, around building entrances for instance.

Bollard Pipe Wall Thickness

For standard common bollards, Schedule 40 (SCH40) pipe is used. Some customers opt for the heavier walled SCH80 for greater security.

-> Browse around our Steel Pipe to see SCH40 and SCH80 differences.

-> Get a Quote on Bollard Pipe

Bollard Foundation Diameter

Typically, a bollard foundation should have 3 times the diameter of the pipe. For 4″ pipe use a 12″ auger bit. For 6″ pipe use an 18″ auger bit. And so on.

Foundation Depth and Bollard Height

The deeper the sturdier. Our in-ground bollards are usually 36″ to 48″ deep. 48″ deep will give you more stopping power in the event a car hits the bollard. 36″ may be adequate. Mostly this has to do with budget. For visibility in a parking lot, we suggest going 48″ high. So, in an ideal world, you’d install 8′ (96″) bollards so they are 48″ high and 48″ deep. Don’t put a 36″ high bollard in a parking lot… they can be hard to see over the hood, especially with how high pickup trucks are these days.

84″ is Stock Bollard Pipe Length

Since bollards are cut from 21′ and 42′ pipes, steel yards tend to stock 7′ (84″) bollards, since you can get 3 out of a 21′ pipe with no waste. For budget reasons, most customers will opt for these.

If visibility is crucial and often is, you’d put these 36″ in the ground. If you definitely need maximum vehicle stopping capability, then you’ll want to go 48″ deep which leaves only 36″ above ground. 36″ above ground is only advised above a curb and not in direct vehicle traffic.

Going for the 96″ Bollard Pipe

If you need both a deep foundation and high visibility, you should probably use 96″ or greater bollard pipe.




We ship pipe from coast to coast
4 and 6 inch Bollard Pipe
6 inch Schedule 40 Steel Pipe Bollards
6 inch Schedule 80 Steel Pipe Bollards



  • Bollard Pipes -> Get a Quote
  • Sign Posts – If you are embedding sign posts into pipe.
    • Use 1 1/2″ or 2″ Galvanized Perforated Square Steel Tubing for sign posts.
    • 5/16″ Threaded Rod, washers and nuts – explained below.
    • Signs
    • 5/16″ Hardware for signs – bolts, nuts, washers, nylon washers for use against sign faces.
  • Concrete – We always use a ready-mix concrete truck (unless it’s Sunday).
    • 3500 PSI or higher with some aggregate
    • full air (air entrained) is suggested
    • up to 2% chloride accelerator if it’s cold out.
  • Asphalt – If customer doesn’t want a concrete square around the bollards in an asphalt lot, you’ll leave foundation shy and patch asphalt. Find an asphalt company unless you happen to do asphalt.
  • Gravel – Is helpful to line hole bottoms to adjust pipe height – especially when aligning many. 50 lb gravel bags work well for this.
  • White Spray Paint for Marking
  • Ground Protection: Ram Board, Cardboard, Tarps or Plywood – For keeping existing concrete/asphalt clean while doing concrete work and painting.
  • Paint: Enamel, Primer and Solvents
    • Lacquer Thinner or Acetone – Clean Pipe if Bare Steel.
    • Mineral Spirits – Cleaning paint brush etc.
    • Spray Automotive or Metal Primer if not already primed. Often Red-Oxide.
    • Paint – use Rustoleum Oil with a roller. Usually Safety Yellow.
    • DO NOT PAINT GALVANIZED – Paint won’t stick worth a dang.
  • Rags
  • Gloves: Nitrile Gloves – nice for shaping concrete dome on bollard and painting.
  • Garbage Bags or Demo Bags
  • Bollard Covers – These pay for themselves after year or two because you won’t have to paint and repaint. Steel Bollards do rust, especially at the bottom where they meet the ground.



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Rust-oleum Safety Yellow

Equipment and Tools

  • Machine: Skid Steer, Track Loader and/or Excavator
  • Machine Accessories:
    • Bucket – for debris removal
    • Forks – to unload pipe from truck and move around.
    • Auger Head with Bit(s)
    • Breaker – if you have one, otherwise use a jackhammer.
  • Concrete Saw – Handheld or Walk-Behind
  • Garden Hose – if wet sawing and also useful for clean up.
  • Water Tank with hose spigot – at least 50 gal. If no water spigot source is available.
  • Debris Removal: Dump truck, dump trailer or dumpster – for asphalt, concrete and dirt debris.
  • Long Handled Tools: Shovels, Post hole digger, brooms
  • 2x4s, 2x6s, 2x8s – for shoring up bollards
  • Stakes – for shoring up bollards – wood or Steel Stakes aka Rebar Pins
  • Small Sledge Hammer – for driving stakes.
  • Masonry Tools – float, edger, brush, 5 gal bucket
  • Funnel and Scoop for filling bollard pipes.
  • Concrete Vibrator – if specified
  • Hole Covering: Heavy steel road plate or plywood for covering open holes – use heavy steel road crossing plate (may be rented) if vehicles might drive over hole(s), or simply don’t leave open holes without pipe in them. Sandbagged and coned off, 3/4″ plywood will keep people from falling in a hole.
  • Traffic Safety: Traffic Barrels, pylons, cones, signs and caution tape
  • Measuring/Marking: Tape measures, Level(s), string line, chalk line, crayon, markers
  • Duct Tape – of course.
  • Impact Driver with T-25 Torx bit – for shoring up bollards with stakes and 2x4s
  • T-25 Torx screws – 2″ – 3″ for shoring work
  • Angle Grinder with flap disks and cutoff disks
  • Metal Band Saw – Portable preferred – for cutting of sign posts.
  • Generator – If no power is present and you have corded tools.
  • Extension Cords as needed.
  • Common Tools: utility knife, pliers, channel locks, wrenches, screwdrivers etc.
  • Garbage Bags or Demo Bags
Bobcat Track Loader with 18 inch Auger Bit
Walk-Behind Concrete Saw
Auger Bits
Parking Lot Barricades Picture

Marking the Bollard Layout

Before opening a ticket for Utility Locating, you need to mark where you will be excavating. You may as well do a good job marking now so the layout is completed for tasks that will soon follow.

Mark with White Spray Paint

In Minnesota, we are asked to use white for excavation markings. Your state may or may not be the same. When the snow is flying, sometimes we have to be creative and use another color so it can be seen. Avoid common utility marking colors like orange, red and blue. There are exceptions if the markings are obvious.

Marking on Asphalt and Concrete

Since you will be cutting and removing material, you will save time by marking your cut lines now.  We like to use a square stencil. For a 6″ bollard, we use an 18″ auger bit. So we cut a 22″ x 22″ square out of a 3′ x 3′ larger square of masonite hardboard or cardboard (any flat stock will work).

Line of Bollards

If there are a line of bollards, we’ll pull a string or chalk line that will be one side of the squares. Then we measure out bollards on that line and place the stencil along the line for each bollard and spray paint the edges. This makes for straight cutting lines.

Core Drilling

A note about Core Drilling: If instead you are core-drilling concrete, make the appropriate size square or circle stencil that will help the cutter operator center the core cutter.

Marking on Landscape

Simply put an “X” marks the spot for each bollard and a circle approximately the diameter of your future hole.

Take Pictures

If your state has an online utility locate website, you may be able to upload the pics which helps a ton. Otherwise, they may come in handy for describing markings, or you may end up sending pic(s) to one of the locators if they call you with questions.

Either way, you will be either mapping out excavations on a map online, or describing the excavation locations online or on the phone.


Marking for Utility Locate on Asphalt
Marking for Utility Locate on Grass

Locating Underground Utilities

Open a Utility Locate Ticket

Usually, the excavator who is digging must be the one to open a public Utility Locate Ticket.

Every state has their own utility locate service. If you do not know yours, you can call 811 to find it. Or you can go to their website here:

Those in Canada can also call 811 or go to the 811 website.

Wait to Dig

Usually, there is a 72 hour wait until all locating is done. Some utilities know there is nothing on property so they won’t visit. Some utilities will mark “clear, no conflict” on the ground. Most or all will mark lines that are close to your digging locations. Often, if there is a conflict or they are unsure, they will call you. You will be notified via phone call or email about the status of the locate at the end. Then you will know if there are no conflicts.

Private Lines Underground

IMPORTANT!: Often times there exists private electrical, water, propane, low voltage etc. lines underground that the utility locate ticket WILL NOT LOCATE. The property owner MUST locate these themselves. They may have to contact those involved in the construction of the building, their electrician, their water sprinkler company (the list goes on) in order to find out if there are any conflicts with your digging locations.

If there are Conflicts

If there are conflicts, either public or  private, you will have to modify some digging locations or your entire project. Be safe, not sorry.

Call 811 Before You Dig

Removing Asphalt and Concrete

Cutting Asphalt and Concrete with a Flatsaw

Asphalt is typically 4-6 inches thick, and concrete can be 4, 6, 8 or more inches thick. In any case, your going to be cutting with a concrete saw, handheld or walk behind. The walk behind saw may have water fed to it to keep the dust down and the blade cooler.

There are many types of blades out there to be aware of. Some are all purpose, and some cut one material better than the other.

The walk behind style is a lot easier on the back, but the handheld is quicker if you don’t have too much to cut. The handheld also enables you to get into tighter spaces.

Core Drilling Concrete

Core drilling is done with a large drill on a sort of cart and cuts a hole in the concrete. Core drilling takes longer, requires more specialty equipment and is more expensive. It is most often done where appearance is more important. It’s not typical to be done in asphalt.

When the customer wants core drilling, we subcontract that out. For us, the request is rare enough that it doesn’t pay to own all the equipment.

Asphalt Cut but not Yet Broken Out

Cut Squares in Asphalt – note the Plywood Accordion Wall

Walk-Behind Concrete Saw

Ye Olde Target Portocut III

Remove Asphalt and Concrete

Use a jackhammer or breaker attachment to break up concrete or asphalt enough to remove it. If you find concrete was thicker than anticipated, this can take longer than expected, and you’ll wish you had a bobcat with a breaker.

Keep Debris Types Separate

A lot of disposal places won’t take mixed up dirt, asphalt and concrete. Instead of learning the hard way, keep them all separate. Often, you can keep them pretty separated in a dump trailer, enough to unload the asphalt and/or concrete by hand first and then dump the dirt.

Dump Trailer

Digging Holes for Bollards

Almost always, and whenever possible, we use a bobcat with an auger head and bit to dig holes.

Mark your depth on a 2×4 and have a second person assist the bobcat operator. When near the bottom of the hole, use the 2×4 to judge depth.

Line the Bottom with Gravel or Debris

Especially when installing a line of bollards, you’ll want them even in height. In this case, it can be helpful to dig a couple inches too deep, then fill the bottom with a couple inches of gravel. This keeps the bollard from sinking too deep and allows you to adjust the height by spinning the bollard into the gravel to drop it, and lifting it back out to raise it. If you need to raise a bollard even more, throw some larger rocks or broken concrete/asphalt down and position it with a 2×4, lifting the bollard on top of it.

Hand Digging Bollard Holes

Hand digging is not fun, but sometimes it is necessary. If you have a situation where you think there may be some private utility lines (e.g. sprinkler system lines), you may need to be more careful digging around these lines, so an auger may be too much. IMPORTANT: If you suspect public utility lines, you shouldn’t be digging at all unless you’ve discussed this with the utility locator and they’ve given you direction.

Fun tip: If you don’t have too many bollards (or if youd do…haha), and you have the energy or the labor, you can surely dig as many bollard holes by hand as you want!


Bobcat with 12 inch Auger Bit for 4 inch Bollards


Hand Digging Holes for Bollards


Setting Bollard Pipes

Standalone Bollards

Bollards that standalone and don’t need careful alignment can be leveled for plumb on the fly. Just make sure it’s seated at the correct depth and the pipe is centered a the hole bottom. Lean the pipe on the edge of the hole until you are pouring concrete.

Use 2x4s to Shore Up Bollard Pipes

On landscape, you can stake a couple 2x4s next to pipe to plumb it square to the 2x4s and stake them and screw the 2x4s to the stakes. Next, plumb it the other way and screw chunks of wood to the 2x4s. See Pic.

On asphalt or concrete, you can use chunks of 2x material to shore up pipe against cut-away asphalt/concrete edge. It helps to have a bunch of different length scraps. Just wedge them in there till bollard pipe is relatively stable.

Set the End Bollards First

For a line of bollards, set the end bollards first, then draw a line between them to set the in-between bollards. This will give you a consistent height and alignment. Since these end bollards are critical, make sure they are shored up sturdy. You can even put a bag or two of quickset concrete at the bottom.

Method to Shore Up a Bollard Pipe
Method to Shore Up Offset Bollards

Embedded Sign Posts

Keeping Signs Straight

If you are embedding sign posts into bollards, keeping signs straight and plumb can be tricky. Here is a method that works well.

Use Xs to Center Sign Posts

As long as your bollards are plumb, your sign posts will be plumb with this method.

  1. Use your choice size of galvanized perforated steel tubing (e.g. 1 1/2″, 2″).
  2. Determine how high you want these to extend above the bollard for the sign(s) (call this length A). Unless you are confident you know the exact sign sizes and target height, you may want to keep the posts longer, then cut them off afterwards. But at worst, if you’re post ends up too short, sleeve it inside and add more tubing above.
  3. Add 12″-24″ to that length (call this length B). This is how far down the posts will be embedded.
  4. Cut your post length L = A + B.
  5. Cut 5/16″ threaded rod the size of the inner diameter (ID) of pipe. Use a grinder with flap disk to fashion the length until it fits fairly snugly.
  6. Make a threaded rod “X” at the bottom of the post. Center rods and screw on nuts with washers.
  7. Make a threaded rod “X” a hole or two below what would be length B from the bottom. Center rods and screw on nuts with washers.
  8. Above the top “X”, mark with tape where the top of the concrete dome will be.
  9. When filling the bollard with concrete almost full, you will stick this contraption in, drop it down to where the top threaded rod is just under the rim of the bollard pipe.
  10. Make sure sign post is oriented correctly so sign will be facing correct direction.
  11. As you fashion concrete dome to the post and as concrete begins setting, be sure the post hasn’t sunken and remains square and plumb.


Method to Center Sign Posts in Bollards

Threaded Rod X

In the pic, these posts actually extended to the bottom of the bollard foundation, so the bottom X was set up higher. We found this method to be unnecessarily expensive because sign posts had to be 13′ to 15′ long. And it was a PITA: you had to fill concrete around the post the whole time without a funnel, rather than just near the top, which was difficult. Having learned, now we just have the post extend 12″ to 24″ into the bollard and leave it out until we have mostly filled the pipe.

Concrete for Bollards

Estimating Concrete Yardage

You can use our Concrete Yardage Estimator to figure out how much concrete you need. Always get extra, because it’s expensive to get an additional truck. Do estimates for both (1) the foundation as if the pipe wasn’t there and (2) the pipe from the foundation up. Then add these together. Finally, multiply this by the number of bollards you’re installing.


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Order Ready-Mix Concrete

Usually, you want to order the truck a day or two in advance. Larger town and cities probably have Saturday Service except in off-season in the cold north.

Concrete Specifications

For bollards, you may want to use a higher PSI like 3500 or greater. You’ll want some aggregate in the mix.

Air in the Concrete

It is advisable to do “full air” (air entrainment) if you are finishing the concrete at grade level as opposed to topping it with asphalt or dirt. The primary purpose of air entrainment is to increase the durability of the hardened concrete, especially in climates subject to freeze-thaw; the secondary purpose is to increase workability of the concrete while in a plastic state in concrete.

Concrete Slump

You’ll want a slump of about 4″. With slump, the higher the number, the wetter the concrete. You can also order a 3″ slump and have them add water if it seems to dry, but you can’t take water out obviously. Some ready-mix companies are more arbitrary, and the concrete shows up much wetter than expected. If that happens, you can let it sit for 30 mins to an hour before doing final finishing.

Chloride Accelerator

You can use some accelerator if it’s cold out – 1% to 2% max for chloride.

Ask your ready-mix concrete company what they suggest if you are unsure.

Pouring Concrete

Keeping Mess to a Minimum

If you are working over existing asphalt or concrete, you probably don’t want concrete splattered around. Some of it is unavoidable. At least right around bollards, it’s nice to have something on the ground like Ram Board, plywood, masonite, cardboard or tarps. Generally, you can resuse this stuff down the line or on the next job, but you don’t want to blow too much money here.

Also, be careful if there are cars parked close by. Especially when filling bollard pipe, the concrete can really splash up high in the air sometimes.

Pour Slow at First

The truck operator will back up to a bollard and get the chute on and start pouring the concrete. Start with the foundation, and do the pipe only after you have at least half the hole filled. Make sure to go slow at first filling the foundation hole because the concrete can shift the bottom of the pipe and it will be virtually impossible to shift back. While it’s filling, you can distribute concrete around the pipe with a shovel or 2×4.

Filling the Pipe

It helps to use a funnel and a big scoop, like a feed scoop. A funnel is easily made from a traffic cone by cutting off the top. Have the operator fill a wheelbarrow about 1/2 way to work out of. Alternatively, if you aren’t worried about mess, have the chute pour straight into the top of the pipe. You just have to wipe down the pipe then.

Vibrating Concrete

Vibrating concrete is always a good idea as it makes it stronger and reduces voids, especially on the surface. It will help concrete fill out inside the pipe too. Even so, it isn’t typically done in bollard installation, but may be specified by engineers or project managers.

Finishing Concrete

Doming the Concrete

The simplest way is to just wear some gloves and form the dome by hand. If you want to get fancy, you can cut an old basketball in half and use that to form the dome. If it’s too wet, just wait.

Finishing at Grade

Be sure you’ve got the dome pretty much under control so you don’t screw up your finishing work below at grade.

Begin floating the concrete at the grade level and add or remove some as needed. Get it floated out nice and smooth. If specified or desired, you can slope the concrete a bit so it’s higher at the pipe and encourages water run-off. Now use an edger to put a nice consistent rounded finish edge around the square. After floating and edging, let it sit for 15 minutes or so, then brush it to give it a nice even texture. Go around the pipe first, then pick a direction and try to make the brushing straight.

Pipe Cleanup

Wipe down bollards with rags to remove concrete splatters and drips. Don’t worry about the thin layer of concrete film at this time.

Finishing Bollards

Never Leave Bollards Bare Steel

Even if you are covering with a Bollard Cover, you’ll want to at least have primed bollards, but we often paint them as if they were being left uncovered. This will increase the longevity of the pipe. Bare steel will rust, no doubt.

Painting Preparation

If the bollards are not smooth, or have concrete spatter or mild surface rust, it is good to run a sanding sponge over them first. Then, wipe down bollards quickly with a solvent like lacquer thinner or acetone. You can do this even if they are pre-primed. This will remove the dust and oils from the pipe.

Priming and Primer Touch Up

If you need to prime bare steel or touch up pre-primed bollards, use an automotive primer spray. Most commonly, we use the red-oxide primer spray.

Painting Bollards

The best all around performing coating I believe is  the rustoleum oil out of the can. Most common is the Safety Yellow color. Use a 4 inch roller and a small brush to cut-in around the bottom. Do 2 coats if you can still see through and aren’t getting full coverage. If you are going to cover the bollards, you might find a good spray enamel works just fine. Do lighter coats to avoid dripping.

Installing Bollard Covers

If you painted bollards, of course, wait til they are dry. For enamel, this could take a day.

See our page on How to Install Bollard Covers for the specifics.

Peeling paint on galvanized bollards need covers

Never Paint Galvanized Bollards

Paint does not stick to Galvanized Steel for very long. A quick solution here however, is to install bollard covers.

Walmart Blue Bollard Cover
Primed Bollards in Landscape
Painted Bollards in Landscape
Bollards Lining Service Doors
Door Protection Red Bollard Covers
Midwest Satellite Antenna Services

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How to Measure for Bollard Covers

How to Measure for Bollard Covers

We’ll Do the Rest

When we know the height of your bollards, we can cut your covers to the correct height which depends on the style of bollard cover. If they are domed with concrete, don’t worry. We work that tolerance into all the covers we cut.


What You Might Need

  • Tape measure or ruler to measure height and diameter.
  • Sewing tape works well if you want to measure circumference.
  • Pen and Paper or Text App on phone to record measurements.
Sewing tape to measure circumference of pipe

Measuring Bollard Height

Measure bollard height from the ground to the top edge of steel. If it has a concrete dome, ignore that. 

Measuring Bollard Height

Use Highest Bollard

For consistent look with a set of bollards intended to be the same height, find the highest one and use that height for the heights of all the bollard covers in that set.

Measuring Bollard Pipe Group Height

Measure Bollard Pipe Diameter

Rarely, pipe bollards are out of the ordinary. In most cases, you will have 4″, 5″, or 6″ Pipe. These have outer diameters (OD) of 4 1/2″, 5 9/16″ and 6 5/8″ respectively. Your measurements will very likely be close to one of those common pipes.  See the chart below the next diagram for pipe and cover sizes.


Ways to Measure Diameter

  1. If the top of the pipe is flat or close to flat, just measure across the pipe.
  2. If you have concrete domed on top, you can use 2 straight edges to measure the diameter above the dome.
  3. Or you can measure the circumference around the pipe and divide by Pi (3.14) to get the diameter (or just use the chart below). Measure with a sewing tape, paper ruler or by carefully rocking a rigid ruler around the pipe. If you want to print a paper ruler, go to
Measuring Bollard Pipe Diameter

Common Pipe Diameters

Using your diameter (2nd column), or circumference (3rd column) you can determine your cover size in the 1st column.

Nominal Pipe Size & Cover Size

Outside Diameter (OD)

4″ 4 1/2″ (4.5″) 14.12″ (approx 14 1/8″)
5″ 5 9/16″ (5.563″) 17.48″ (approx 17 1/2″)
6″ 6 5/8″ (6.625″) 20.81″ (approx 20 13/16″)
8″ 8 5/8″ (8.625″) 27.10″ (approx 27 1/8″)
10″ 10 3/4″ (10.75″) 33.77″ (approx 33 3/4″)
12″ 12 3/4″ (12.75″) 40.06″ (approx 40 1/16″)

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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

For comments on this article, please email

Bollard Installation Cost

Bollard Installation Cost

—> A quick note on In-Ground vs Base Plate Bollards

This page is mainly for In-Ground Bollard Installation Cost. Base Plate Bollard Installation is much more straightforward and comes down mostly to the cost of the Bollards and Anchors. 

—> Also check out this Installation Guide 

How to Install In Ground Bollards

Question: How Much Does In-Ground Bollard Installation Cost?

Short Answer: 6″ Parking Bollards Installed Cost is about $700 to $1,200 each

 In-Ground Steel Parking Bollard Installation Cost Estimate

Here, we are lay out the costs associated with the installation of quantity 20 of the most common steel bollards in an existing asphalt parking lot. We hope this transparency will help you understand why bollard installation cost is what it is. By adding up these costs, we will arrive at a rough estimate that should be useful to you if you are planning such a project. The estimate will be somewhat scalable if you are in the same arena. So, say you have 15 or 25 bollards, then you might take the total and multiply it by .75 or 1.2, respectively. If you only have a few bollards, the estimate is not scalable, because some costs don’t scale, like less of a price break on steel and Sonotube, concrete truck minimums, setup time, equipment hours and laborers having less to do overall.

Bobcat T550 with 18-inch Auger Bit

We ship pipe from coast to coast

Bollard Installation Specifications

  • 6″ Schedule 40 Steel Pipe, Quantity 20
  • Each pipe is 96″ long, with 48″ above grade and 48″ below grade in footing.
  • Concrete is at least 3500 psi and fills pipe and footing.
  • Concrete Footing has an 18″ diameter and goes 48″ deep.
  • At grade, a 24″ x 24″ square is cut out of asphalt or concrete to allow installation.
  • Footing: Cardboard form (Sonotube) is not generally needed. Pier footing is more stable with irregular walls rather than backfilled around smooth form.
  • At top of bollard, concrete is rounded out to a dome shape.
  • At grade, the concrete square is floated and broom brushed.

Steel Pipe Cost

6″ Schedule 40 Bare Steel Pipe 96″ long and delivered costs about $220

⇒20 Bollard Pipes: $4,000.

Optional Concrete Form

We use carboard “Sonotube” forms sometimes because they help the person who’s augering know they’ve dug the right depth hole, and sometimes they’re just prescibed. But the argument can be made that without them, the footing ties right into the dirt which makes it sturdier. With quantity 20, medium to heavy walled 18″ diameter Sonotube, cut to 42-44″ long, cost about $30-$35 each including sales tax.

 ⇒Concrete Forms: $0 – $700 

Concrete Cost

This job has 20 bollards and each one takes nearly 1/3 of a yard of concrete. Altogether, that’s almost 7 yards, so one concrete load could do it, but usually it makes much more sense to do two pours.

If the parking lot is currently being used by customers, then often it has to be poured in two passes, because the whole lot can’t be overtaken at once. Additionally, it can be tough for a crew to efficiently level (plumb) bollards and manage pour and keep up with the finishing the setting concrete, all while negotiating cone and barricade setup for customers milling about a lot. For this reason, in most cases, it is better to have a smaller crew do 2 days than one. In any case, the pours are a bit putzy, so the concrete truck charges overtime. Also, 4 yards or less incurs a small load fee and brings the concrete cost to about $200-$225 per yard including sales tax. And you want a little extra each time, so we’re doing 2 trucks at 4 yards each.

The concrete pour is the most critical phase. It must be done correctly the first time!

 ⇒Concrete: $1,600 – $1,800

Track Loader and Accessories Cost

Whether rented or owned, a track loader, skid steer or mini-excavator along with accessories cost money. We use our own equipment except we may rent if job is far out of town.

Typically, we use a Skid Loader, a breaker, an auger head with 18″ auger bit and pallet forks. 

⇒Track Loader and Accessories: $1,000-$1,750

Traffic Control Barrel/Cone Rental

This is only needed when traffic control requirement is significant, for a job this size, we would rent 40 Traffic Barrels. Typical is $15 each per week plus delivery and taxes.

⇒Traffic Control: $0-$700

Other Materials Costs

Other materials costs are pretty self-explanatory but I’ll say a few things. Some items like haul-away may be handled by the main contractor. Ply and other materials may just be old stuff used from other jobs. Cutting the 20 squares out of asphalt costs a blade basically. Ram Board is a cardboard floor covering we place on asphalt around each bollard because concrete is messy. The 3/4″ Plywood is used to cover the open holes for safety, and as surface protection. We stock and reuse what we can, but about 4 sheets get ruined and tossed. The costs include taxes.

+Dirt/Asphalt/Debris Haul Away: $0-$400

+Asphalt Cutting Blade: $0-$225

+Ram Board: $0-$80 

+Plywood: $0-$160

+Tarps/Poly: $0-$50

+Diesel for Track Loader: $100

+Gas for Generator, Asphalt Saw: $0-$30

⇒Other Materials: $100-$1,045

Labor Costs

A project this size is equivalent about equivalent to a 5 day job for 2 experienced workers at $500/day each = $5,000

⇒Labor: $5,000


A portion of the company’s overhead has to be calculated into the cost for the project. In general, this is a rough estimate, but we figure this project accounts for about a 1/4 to 1/3 months overhead. This translates roughly to a portion of the liability insurance ($200), office/shop lease ($400), equipment purchases and financing ($400), advertising and website development ($50), office expenses ($50) etc. Not to mention health and vehicle insurance! (but we won’t add that here.)

⇒Overhead: $1,100

Total Project Costs

Here we total up all the project costs to our company and come up with a Total Cost Range we feel is accurate.

+Bollard Pipes: $4,000

+Concrete Forms: $0 – $700

+Concrete: $1,600 – $1,800

+Track Loader and Accessories: $1,000 – $1750

+Traffic Control: $0-$700

+Other Materials: $100-$1,045

+Salaries and Labor: $5,000

+Overhead: $1,100

⇒Total Project Costs: $12,800 – $15,095

Bollard Installation Estimate Range

The company needs to make a money in order to stay in business. There are many other costs for the business as a whole. Also, the company puts up all the money for materials and labor and is basically financing the operation. On a project like this, we would add 50%-75%. We take the Low Project Cost times 1.5 to arrive at the Low of the Estimate Range. Then we take the High Project Cost times 1.7 and to arrive at the High Project Range. These values together comprise the Estimate Range.

⇒Estimate Range: $17,700 – $25,500

⇒Estimate Range: $885-$1275 per bollard

From Estimate to Bid

Having taken the time to do a thorough estimate, we can now convert it easily into a bid with a few considerations.


The number we arrive at depends on a number of things:

  • How accurate do we feel our estimate is? Are there any wildcards?
  • How efficiently can we execute this project?
  • How busy or slow are we?
  • How soon is the deadline?
  • How short is work window?
  • Is it near freezing, complicating digging, concrete pour and wet sawing?
  • Is it a non-local installation?
  • Is project site remote with extra charges for concrete truck or other materials deliveries?
  • Have materials prices changed or are they different for the region?

Bollard Installation Cost

In this case, the bollard installation cost to the client is about $800 to $1275 per bollard as specified. Lower quantities will be higher per bollard while for higher quantities, you will see a price break. And, if the specifications are different, obviously this will change the cost too. For example, it the bollards were installed before paving, then no asphalt cutting and breaking would be required. Finally, higher quantities have savings. Hence, the cost per bollard might go as low as $700. And $1275 per bollard is unlikely, so let’s say $1200 max.

The per bollard bottom line is…

Bollard Installation Cost is $700 to $1,200


How To Install In-Ground Bollards

Click Here

Pipe Schedule vs Tube Gauge

Pipe Schedule vs Tube Gauge

Confused about Pipe Schedule vs Tube Gauge meanings? Confused as to why 6″ Pipe does not have a 6″ diameter?

Nominal Size

Nominal pipe sizes are given by their inner diameter (ID) while nominal round tube sizes are given by their outer diameter (OD). So a 6″ inch pipe might have an OD of 6.5″. “Nominal” means “in name only”. Simple right? Nope. With Schedule 40 Pipe, a 6″ pipe has about a 6″ ID and 6 5/8″ OD. With Schedule 80, a 6″ pipe has a 6 5/8″ OD but a 5.761″ ID.

What’s important to remember, is these are just names. If the dimensions are critical to you, just call it 6 5/8″ OD with a 0.28″ wall, not just 6″ Schedule 40 pipe.

A 2×4 is not 2″ by 4″

Like when you buy 2x4s, you know they aren’t actually 2″ by 4″, but 1.5″ by 3.5″. Yes, with round tube, the nominal size is the same as the outer diameter. But with pipe, as you would think, the concern is with the volume of a fluid that could flow through it, so it is of lesser concern what the OD is.

Wall Thickness

Wall thickness for tube is given by it’s gauge, while the “schedule” of the pipe is the indication of its thickness. The higher the schedule, the thicker. But unlike the gauge of tube which is the same wall thickness for all tube sizes, the wall thickness of a pipe depends BOTH on it’s nominal size AND schedule. So a pipe the Schedule 40 in a 4″ Pipe will be a different wall thickness than a 6″ Pipe.

Click here for US Standard Pipe Sizes on Wikipedia

Clarification on Bollard Cover Sizes and Thicknesses

When we say a 6″ bollard cover, we mean that it fits a 6″ Pipe. Either 1/4″ or 1/8″ thicknesses in bollard covers will fit over the nominal pipe size as indicated.

Steel Pipe and Tube St. Paul