Stanchion vs Bollard: What are stanchions and bollards used for and how are they different?

Stanchion vs Bollard: What are stanchions and bollards used for and how are they different?

A construction worker, building contractor, or OSHA manager may be well-versed in the safety utilities used in modern warehouses and parking lots, but there are many people who find themselves in need of crowd control or safety solutions who may not be familiar with these utilities. For instance schools and universities, libraries, museums, and even churches may all find themselves in need of safety products they're entirely unfamiliar with.

For instance some safety plan mangers may not know the difference between a stanchion and a bollard.

What's the difference between a bollard and a stanchion?

Stanchions and bollards are both made up of simple upright steel posts, but their typical uses are quite different. While stanchions are used to hold something up (like lights, crowd control ropes, or even the heads of cattle), bollards are more commonly used to create vehicle barriers. 

Below we'll discuss more examples of how bollard and stanchion uses are different, and how their structural designs can differ as well.

What are stanchions used for?

Stanchions are used for different purposes in different industries. In agriculture, stanchions refer to the steel structures which hold cattle in place during milking or feeding. In architecture and interior design, a stanchion may refer to the post portion of a street lamp. In event management, a stanchion refers to the posts which create queue line barriers, block access in hallways, or protect exhibits. 

The two primary types of crowd control stanchions are retractable belt barrier stanchions and classic post and rope stanchions.

What are post and rope stanchions?

"Post and rope stanchions" refer to the stanchions made up of velvet ropes clipped to the top of decorative metal posts. These are commonly used in VIP settings like red carpet events, theater ticketing lines, museum displays, and other event venues. The finials at the tops of these posts are often decorative, and while the ropes can be as simple as plastic chain, they tend to imitate velvet ropes, like those shown below.

You can browse post and rope stanchions for sale here. 

Classic Stanchions and Ropes


What are retractable belt barrier stanchions?

Retractable belt barrier stanchions are slightly more complex in design with belts that extend and retract from a canister at the top of the post. The belts include simple clips at the end which can fasten to another post's canister. These features make the retractable belt barriers more utilitarian than elegant and they are commonly used in airports, bus stations, shopping malls, amusement parks, and even industrial settings like warehouses and construction sites. 

The belts are similar to the seatbelts you find in your car, made to tolerate frequent extraction and retraction. They may also commonly include crowd control or safety messaging and other elements which make them well suited for industrial environments. For instance in the example below, a rubber base adds durability so these stanchions can be used in parking lots or warehouses which might experience high traffic.

You can browse retractable belt barrier stanchions for sale here. 

What are bollards used for?

Bollards are sturdy barriers to block or inhibit vehicle entry into pedestrian areas, no parking zones, or even store front windows. While they're most commonly made from simple steel structures like the steel bollard post here, they can also be more decorative, like these concrete bollards.

Steel or concrete bollards

While you may commonly see bollards used to protect the dumpster area of a parking lot, along the curb at grocery store entrances and walkways, or along pedestrian walkways, some businesses also include them in front of their storefront windows to prevent vehicular break ins.

Bollards are typically divided into two categories based on their crash-resistance. Bollards which are securely mounted into the ground and include steel rebar for optimum durability could be referred to as "crash-resistant" bollards. This means they can truly stop a vehicle in its path and prevent it from crashing into a protected area. 

On the other hand, non-crash-resistant bollards are those which could not physically stop a vehicle's entry, but could deter it. In many cases, a non-crash-resistant bollard is sufficient simply because it looks sturdy enough to impede a vehicle's entry, and this is often enough to stop vehicles from attempting to enter.

When do I need a bollard vs a stanchion?

In summary, bollards are preferred for protecting pedestrians from nearby vehicles. Here are some common examples of when you might use a bollard instead of a stanchion.

  • Use a bollard to protect pedestrian areas of a parking lot like the bike rack area or dumpster area.
  • Use bollards to protect pedestrian entryways from the adjacent parking lot at grocery stores or large department stores.
  • Use bollards to protect the elevator or stairway entries of parking garages.
  • Use bollards to block traffic from pedestrian-only streets and alleyways.
  • Ue bollards to provide a barrier between your ground level storefront window and the nearby street.

When do I need a stanchion vs a bollard?

Stanchions are preferred for managing the flow of foot traffic. Here are some examples of when you might use a stanchion instead of a bollard.

  • Use a stanchion to create customer waiting lines at airport check in or TSA.
  • Use a stanchion to create customer checkout lines in grocery stores or department stores.
  • Use a stanchion to block off hallways being cleaned or undergoing other temporary maintenance.
  • Use a stanchion to deter the general public from entering staff-only areas.
  • Use a stanchion to protect public exhibits from visitors getting too close to the display.

If you have any other questions about either of these popular safety products, reach out to our customer service team at (866) 333-6534 or

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