Your Guide to Architectural, Decorative Bollards in Cast Iron and Steel

Jenny Kleiner Uncategorized

guide to decorative bollards


Bollards provide secure barriers that help to direct traffic and protect pedestrians from potential vehicle crashes. Bollards are all around us, but perhaps you haven’t noticed them before. In some cases, this is because bollards appear to be a decorative feature of an area. Decorative bollards, also called architectural bollards, are designed to capitalize on both form and function to enhance any space.

While the idea of adding security barriers to an area may make you fear it will appear invasive and will take away from the area’s aesthetic, the opposite is true when it comes to architectural bollards. Decorative bollard styles from Blockaides can add charm, sophistication and safety to your space.

Request A Free Estimate

Benefits of Using Decorative Bollards

Bollards offer some valuable functional benefits, and decorative bollards offer aesthetic value as well. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you may want to consider installing decorative bollards on your property.

1. They Are Highly Customizable

There are nearly endless opportunities for customizing your decorative bollards, so you can ensure they help you achieve the exact look you’re going for. You can choose your custom bollards with preferred material, finish, shape and more.

Being able to customize your bollards is important since this allows you to capitalize on their artistic value. For example, if you’re trying to complement and enhance a Victorian aesthetic in a historic district of your town, then you’ll want bollards that reflect the Victorian design. Similarly, if you’re looking to enhance a space with a more modern design, you can customize your bollards to fit in seamlessly.

Endless Options for Custom Decorative Bollards

2. They Enhance Safety

Bollards are designed to restrict vehicle access and even stop a moving vehicle in the event of a crash. This makes sidewalks, bike paths, parking lots and other public areas safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

While there are more heavy-duty designs available, decorative security bollards are still made from crash-rated materials and meet relevant safety ratings. This means you can count on these bollards to look nice as well as offer a protective security barrier.

3. They Visually Define Borders

Bollards don’t just provide protective barriers in the event of a rogue vehicle. They also provide a visual delineation that helps to direct traffic, both vehicles and pedestrians. People recognize bollards as a means of marking a border, so they can help people navigate a space more easily. In this way, bollards provide both functional and decorative value.

For a more complete border, consider incorporating chains from bollard to bollard. This type of barrier, unlike some fences and other barrier options, tends to appear unassuming while still fulfilling its function. You can also illuminate your border by using lighted decorative bollards.

bollard helping to direct traffic

4. They Are Timeless and Elegant

Architectural decorative bollards have a visual appeal that is timeless. This allows them to blend well with the overall aesthetic of a historic downtown area as well as a shiny, modern district.

The timeless look of bollards especially comes through with more historic styles, such as cannon bollards. In the early 19th century, after defeating the French in the Battle of Trafalgar, the British buried cannons from the French warships along the street and used them as bollards. That’s why many decorative bollards today are meant to mimic this cannon shape, sometimes even with a rounded cap to look like a ball in the cannon.

What Are Decorative Bollards Made From?

Bollards are most often made from cast iron, steel or a combination of the two. No matter their design, they are strong enough to withstand a vehicle hitting them and prevent the vehicle from going beyond them.

Decorative bollards are made from the same materials as purely practical bollards, so they offer the same function and durability while also enhancing an environment’s aesthetic. How can you go about selecting the right material for your architectural bollards? To get started, you’ll want to know some of the features cast iron and steel bollards possess.

1. Cast Iron

Cast iron is a traditional material for lamp posts, fences and other decorative features along a street, making it an excellent choice for decorative bollards when you want to invoke an elegant, old-fashioned feel. Cast iron bollards tend to be the best choice for historic districts since even new cast iron bollards can blend in seamlessly with antique fixtures and historic buildings.

The main advantage of cast iron bollard over steel is that it can be molded into custom shapes. However, steel offers some advantages that cast iron lacks, such as lighter weight and greater strength, which is why some architects choose a combined option — they install steel bollards to provide the structural core and then cover them with a decorative cast iron veneer. This is also a more cost-effective option.

Request A Free Estimate


cost iron for bollards in historic districs

2. Steel

We’ve already mentioned some of the advantages of crafting bollards from steel. Steel is extremely sturdy, so it’s a good option when you want your decorative bollards to stand up to potential high-speed crashes. Steel is a more contemporary choice for decorative security bollards because of its appearance as well as its function.

Stainless steel, in particular, has a sleek appearance that complements a modern style. Steel is also a versatile metal that can be modified to fit a variety of aesthetics. For example, you can powder coat or paint decorative bollards in stainless steel to match a branded color palette. You can also style steel bollards to look antiqued if you want to achieve a more traditional look but would prefer steel over cast iron.

Customization Design Options for Decorative Bollards

We mentioned that customization is a major benefit of decorative bollard. In addition to selecting the material or materials for your decorative bollard design, you can also select from different features, including:

    • Shape: Though all bollards have a generally narrow, cylindrical shape, there are unlimited options. Whether you’re going for a sleek look or an old-fashioned, fluted design, decorative bollards can fit any type of architectural style. There are preexisting shapes you can choose from, or for cast iron decorative bollards, you can create a custom mold for your desired shape.
    • Color: When it comes to decorative steel bollards, you can paint or powder coat them any color you’d like. Match the color of your city or your company, or you can simply select a color that appeals to you. Another option is to purchase decorative bollard covers, which would work for either steel or cast iron options.
    • Illumination: Another way you can customize your bollards is by choosing decorative bollards with lights. These bollards feature lights at the top, which gives them the appearance of light posts. Architectural bollard lighting is an asset to any sidewalk, path or storefront, especially when there is insufficient street lighting nearby.
    • Chains: When you want your bollards to more clearly mark a border or direct traffic, you have the option to add chains from one bollard to another. Chains hang in between each bollard, much like velvet ropes that hang from posts used to mark a line at the theater. Chains can add charm and function to your bollards.
    • Flowers: Some decorative bollards can be disguised as floral displays, or they can be enhanced by adding a planter to the top. Having greenery or flowers flourishing on the top of a bollard can make it an all-in-one option, offering both function and natural beauty for your sidewalk, park, storefront, driveway or wherever your bollards are installed.

customized bollards from Blockaides

Uses and Applications of Architectural Bollards

When you want to install bollards, you need to determine which kind is best for your application. Decorative security bollards are the right choice when you need bollards for everyday use and want the bollard design to add visual appeal to a space. There are some situations, however, where heavier-duty bollards are a better choice. When you need bollards to be strong enough to handle potentially high-impact events from large vehicles, then strength must be your priority.

That said, decorative security bollards are a great choice for a variety of urban and suburban areas. Let’s look at some example applications of decorative bollards:

  • Universities: Since universities tend to experience a lot of foot traffic in addition to slow-moving vehicular traffic, bollards provide helpful visual barriers and protection. For instance, many universities in the U.S. are home to beautiful, historic buildings they want to protect without ruining the aesthetic. Newer universities also care deeply about the look of their campus and may opt for a sleek, modern design. In either case, decorative bollards are an ideal choice for universities.
  • Churches: Churches can also benefit from the protection bollards provide. Bollards can separate walkways from the parking lot or protect the building from roadways. Churches represent some of the most beautiful works of architecture in many of our communities, and bollards can help preserve these buildings in the event of a crash. Decorative bollards can also fit in with a historic style to maintain and even enhance the church’s exterior.
  • Historic districts: With well over 2,000 historic districts in the U.S., there are many areas of villages, towns and cities that are dedicated to preserving and celebrating their historic architecture. In an old downtown area, shiny, modern-looking fixtures would seem out of place. This is where decorative bollards and barriers provide the perfect solution for protecting historic buildings and pedestrians without detracting at all from the charming, historic look of the area.
  • Residential homes: Homeowners can also have bollards installed to protect their walkway or front yard from rogue vehicles. Removable decorative bollards can provide a barrier for your driveway, ensuring you never have to worry about drivers gaining unauthorized access to your home. You can select decorative bollards that match the architectural style of your home, too, so they blend in seamlessly. Homeowners will also appreciate that decorative bollards are easier to install than fixed and heavy-duty bollards.
  • Urban centers: Decorative bollards are ideal for dividing up urban centers or commercial areas without hurting the visual appeal of the surrounding homes and businesses. For urban centers, you’ll want to consult with an expert to make sure you install bollards that are strong enough to handle the type of traffic your area experiences. Remember, you can always opt for a heavier-duty bollard and enhance its appearance with a decorative cover.

How to Use Decorative Bollard Covers

If you already have fixed bollards and security posts in place but are interested in replacing them with more decorative bollards, you may want to consider leaving the bollards you have and covering them with decorative cappings and designs. Bollard covers are the perfect way to visually transform a fixed, bollard security system.

With this option, you keep the function you already have and enhance the appearance. While this option may seem like a compromise, you can select from a variety of shapes and sizes so you can still achieve the exact style you’re going for.

This solution is far more cost-effective compared to demolishing and replacing your existing barrier system. It will also save you the time and effort of removing the existing bollards. If you’re not sure whether you should install new bollards or purchase decorative covers for your bollards, talk to an expert from Blockaides. We can help you determine the best solution for your situation.

Why Blockaides Is Your Trusted Bollard Supplier

When you want to install bollards that are American-made using high-quality materials and production methods, partner with Blockaides. All of our products meet or exceed important safety requirements in addition to having exceptional visual appeal. We feature a range of stylish design choices in all of our bollard products.

For nearly a decade, Blockaides has provided superior products that improve safety and security in both private and public spaces. We have the expertise to help you find the right solution for your security needs. Please visit our product pages and see all our bollards for sale. You can also contact us with any questions you may have or to talk with a representative about your unique bollard options and decorative bollard designs.