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PrecastFerrocementRoofingUnits

P.C.Sharma, Retd, Head Material Sciences S.E.R.C (G), Chairman Indian Concrete Instt. Western U.P.
GhaziabadCentre,ChiefEditor,NewBuildingMaterials&ConstructionWorld,NewDelhi.
FerrocementisoneofthemostsuitableconstructionmaterialsforroofingsystemsisPrecastorcastinsitu
form. It offers high strength, resistance against ingress/seepage of water, high crack resistance and can
offersolutionwithreducedweight&cost.Castingwithorwithoutmouldispossible.Manyshapesandtypes
ofroofingsystemshavebeendevelopedsuchastroughshaped,segmentalshellelements,domes,bamboo
F.C. domes, F.C roofing has been used at large scale for housing, schools, hospital buildings, godowns,
sentryposts,toiletsetc.Singleprecastroofingunitscanbeusedtocoversmallstructures.Roofingsystem
withinbetweensupportelementscanspanlargerroofs.

Photo1:Makingofmould2.5mx2.0m

This paper presents a very simple structurally sound F.C. roof which can be precast and used for smaller,
mediumspanstructuresinruralareasandinurbanslumdevelopmentprojects.
Thewholeprocesshasbeenpresentedthroughfivephotofigures.Themouldforsuchunitscanbeprepared
usingamasonry,steelorwood.Masonrymouldisthecheapestandeasiesttomake.Whenonlyfewunits
are to be produced then a soil deposit mould with cement plaster lining at top is good enough. Photo 1
showsmakingaperipheralbrickonedgelininganddepositingofsoilinshapeformould.Soiliscompacted
welltoformtheshapeifmouldandthetopsurfaceisplasteredusing1:4cementsand,mortar.

Photo2:Mouldsurfaceplasteredandcoveredwithplasticsheet,reinforcementbeingfabricated Photo3:Wiremeshreinforcementbeingfixed

Photograph2&3showathinplasticsheetlaidoverthemouldandmakingaskeletalcagereinforcementfor
the roof. Two layers of hot dip galvanized woven wire mesh of 20 g x " x " were provided as mesh

reinforcement one at top and 2nd at bottom of 5 cage. The casting matrix used, photo Figure 4, was
designedtoobtain250kg/cm2strengthat28daysandmixusedwasonepartofordinaryPortlandcement
and 2.5 parts of good quality graded sand. Watercement ratio was maintained at 0.40 .Pidiproof L.W, a
waterproofing chemical from Pidilite was used for improving water resistance and workability of mortar.
The size of roof shown was 2.5 m x 2.0 m and the photographs belong to a trg programme organized by
authorforNationalDrinkingWaterMission(whenhewaswithSERC)atAgratallaforPHEDEngineers.
An orbital vibrator developed at SERC (R&G) was used for compacting the unit. The thickness at top was
keptas2.5cmandneartheedgeas3.0cm.Producedunitswereusedforassemblingroofsof2.5x4.0m,
Figure1.

Figure1:Topplanfortwinunit

The Large areas can be covered by providing precast support beams in between. Larger units can be
produced if erection facilities are available. A single unit for a one room low cost house designed as a
compositeunithavingtoiletandkitchen,canalsobeproduced.Suchasystemcanreducetheconstruction
timedrastically.Theonlydisadvantageisitsuseasuppermostrooforassinglestoryconstruction.
ThecostofsuchroofscometoalmostatparwithG.Isheetroofwhenlifecyclecostisconsidered.Several
othertypeofroofshavealsobeendevelopedatSERC(R)andextensivelyusedinfield.Photo5showsa2.5
mx1.6mextensivelyusedformakingarmysentryposts.

Photo4:CastingofF.C.Roofingunitat

Photo5:PrecastF.C.RoofforsentrypostforBEGRoorkee.(1976)theseunitsusedatlarge

Agartala(Tripura)

scalebyindianarmy

A do it yourself book on F.C. roof, written by author for international Ferrocement information centre AIT
Bangkok, Thailand is in wide circulation since 1978. This publication provides a total package on Trough
ShapedF.C.roofingunitupto6mspan.Wecanproducesuchbookletsforindiancondition.
Large number of training programmes have been conducted by author for IFIC, Unicef, NDWM (Min of R.D
Govt.ofIndia),35pointprogramme,CAPARTetcinwhichF.C.roofinghasbeencovered.

References:

Ferrocementroofingpanelsforsingleandmultipleusetechnicalreport7/76,SERCRoorkee.
RainwaterharvestingandferrocementstructuresfornortheasternstatesinIndiareport&Trgmanual,
NationalDrinkingwatermissionprojectstructuralEnggResearchCentreGhaziabad1998.
Ferrocement roof do it yourself manual P.C.Sharma V.S. Gopalaratnam International Ferrocement
InformationCentre(IFIC)A.I.T.Bangkok(Thailand)1978.
NBMCWMay2011

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