Coal Bunkers: Materials of Construction

Carbery Plastic Coal Bunker on a black background 

Much more than just a fuel tank shop, at Fuel Tank Store, we supply a great range of Coal Bunkers too. Each bunker is ideal for storing a wide variety of solid fuels including briquettes, slack, wooden blocks and of course, coal. A wide variety of Coal Bunker types are available today, manufactured from a wide range of materials, including plastic, GRP, timber, galvanised steel and concrete. All are suitable for the storage of solid fuel, with each having its own merits and drawbacks.

Plastic Coal Bunkers

Today in the UK and Republic of Ireland, more Coal Bunkers are manufactured from plastic than any other material. Most Plastic Bunkers are rotationally moulded from medium density polyethylene (MDPE). Rotational moulding lends itself to the production of large, hollow, unstressed, plastic containers. The same production process and materials are used for the manufacture of plastic Fuel, Oil and Water Storage Tanks too.

Like concrete and GRP Bunkers, Plastic Coal Bunkers will never rot, rust or corrode and do not require painting. They are almost always supplied as a one-piece product and are lightweight and easily handled too. MDPE Bunkers also possess excellent impact resistance properties, capable of taking everyday knocks and bumps in their stride. Some models, such as Carbery's 3-bag and 6-bag Bunkers can even be supplied with a stand, for ease of loading and unloading. 

Whilst most Plastic Coal Bunkers are either green, brown or black in colour, some manufacturers do offer a wider range of colours – allowing you to choose a product, colour co-ordinated with your home or garden. Plastic Coal Bunkers also usually incorporate an integrally moulded base, unlike some Concrete, Timber and Galvanised Steel Bunkers.

Concrete Bunkers

Historically, Concrete Coal Bunkers were a popular choice among consumers – especially in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Concrete is not only affordable, but has excellent weather and impact resistance properties too. Requiring only an occasional coat of water resistant sealant, a Concrete Coal Bunker can quite literally last a lifetime. And concrete frequently remains the material of choice for larger, industrial, solid fuel storage applications.

However, concrete’s biggest drawback is its weight. Even a small Concrete Coal Bunker is heavy, frequently difficult to transport and can prove awkward to handle. Assembly is often a 2-person, or sometimes, a 3-person task. task. And unless you’re prepared to regularly paint your bunker or can somehow conceal it, it might look unsightly in a domestic context - especially as it weathers.

Galvanised Steel Coal Bunkers

Galvanised Steel Coal Bunkers have traditionally been especially popular with consumers in England. They are often supplied as a flat-pack kit, for on-site assembly.

Unlike Concrete Bunkers, Galvanised Steel Coal Bunkers are lightweight and easily handled. They’re also weather resistant, whilst the galvanising process creates a product with enhanced corrosion and chemical resistance properties too. In terms of affordability, Galvanised Bunkers tend to be among the cheapest.

However, when compared with Plastic and GRP alternatives, Galvanised Bunkers can sometimes appear unsightly. They will often require on-site assembly. And some models are supplied without a base, requiring you to construct a purpose-designed base on-site and before final installation.

Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) Coal Bunkers

GRP – sometimes simply referred to as fibreglass – is a fibre-reinforced polymer, made of plastic reinforced with fine fibres of glass. GRP Coal and Solid Fuel Bunkers have been around since the 1960s and they remain in production today.

Unlike concrete, GRP Coal Bunkers are lightweight and easily handled. They also have excellent weather and chemical resistance characteristics and are ordinarily supplied as a one-piece item – with little or no on-site assembly required. Aside from an occasional clean, GRP Bunkers ordinarily require little maintenance. They're also available in a wide range of colours and do not require painting. And unlike some Galvanised Steel and Concrete Bunker types, GRP Bunkers usually incorporate an integral base.

The biggest downside with GRP is cost. Whilst prices can and do vary, GRP Bunkers usually cost more than Concrete, Galvanised Steel, Plastic and some Timber alternatives.

Timber Coal Bunkers

Wooden Coal Bunkers were once the most popular type of Bunker on-sale. However, with the advent of Galvanised Steel and more recently, Plastic Bunkers, sales of Timber products declined.

There has however been a resurgence in sales of timber products during recent years. A wide range of Timber Bunkers is now available. Some are small, others are large. Many are plain and simple, whilst others are ornate. Prices vary considerably, dependent upon design, finish ad capacity and whether they’re delivered pre or part assembled.

One advantage of wood is that it’s possible to have a Bunker created to fit a specific space. Indeed, if you have the time and the skills, there’s nothing to stop you making your own. The biggest downside of a Wooden Coal Bunker is the risk of rot. To avoid this, the Bunker will need regular maintenance, as well as protection with a suitable wood treatment. Additionally, many wooden bunkers are not supplied with a base, so whether you buy or build, you’ll may need to create your own.

The Best Choice?

If you’re hoping we can recommend the best choice of Coal Bunker, the bad news is there isn’t one. Instead, the ideal Coal Bunker for any application will be situation and installation specific.

For many solid fuel users, Plastic Coal Bunkers are a firm favourite and have much to commend them. They’re relatively affordable, readily available, easily cleaned, corrosion and rot resistant, require little maintenance and have proven themselves capable over many decades of withstanding the harshest British and Irish winters. However, the continued availability of Galvanised Steel, GRP and Timber Bunkers suggests that at least some solid-fuel users place appearance, tradition or price ahead of the benefits that Plastic Coal Bunkers provide.

Queries? Questions?

If you have any queries or questions about the best Coal Bunker for your home, why not contact us? We’re open weekdays from 9am to 5pm and you can call us on 01789 632 151 in the UK, Channel Island and Isle of Man or 01 5268 642 in the Republic of Ireland. You’re also very welcome to email and we’ll do our very best to answer your question and queries.

Harlequin Plastic Coal Bunker on a black background with 'View Range' call to action