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Properties of reinforced concrete

Concrete: -Concrete is stone like material obtained artificially by hardening of the mixture of cement,
inert-aggregate materials (fine & course) and water in predetermined proportions. When these
ingredients are mixed, they form a plastic mass which can be poured in suitable moulds (forms) and
set-on standing into hard solid mass, as a result of exothermic chemical reaction between cement and
water. To produce a workable mix, more water is used over and above that needed for this chemical
reaction (water-cement ratio required for complete chemical reaction is about 0.25). The reaction
between cement and water is relatively slow and requires time and favorable temperature for its

Compressive Strength of concrete: -A wide range of strength properties can be obtained for concrete
by appropriate adjustment of the proportions of the constituent materials, using different degree of the
compaction and the conditions of temperature and moisture under which it is placed and cured. Watercement ratio is the main factor affecting the strength of concrete, as shown in figure below.

Strength of

Water-cement ratio
Standard test specimens of 150mm cube are taken at the age of 28days to determine the compressive
strength of concrete according to Ethiopian standard institution (ESI). At age of 7days, concrete may
attain approximately about 2/3 of the full compressive strength of concrete. In some national standard
(example ACI code), cylinder specimens of 150mm diameter by 300mm high are taken. Although the
load is applied uni-axially, the friction between the loading plate and the contact faces of the test
specimen has more effect on cube strength than the cylinder strength. Because of this, the cube strength
gives more strength than the true compressive strength of concrete, whereas, cylinder strength gives
reasonably the true compressive strength. On average, cube strength is taken as 1.25 times cylinder
strength. If large size aggregates are used, a cube mold with side 200mm may be used to determine

compressive strength of concrete. And strength of concrete is converted to 150mm cube compressive
strength by factor of 1.05.
The performance of materials of structure under load best be represented by stress-strain diagram. A
typical set of such curve are obtained at normal, moderate testing speed on concrete of 28days old are as
shown in figure below, for various compressive strength of concrete.

Concrete comp.






Concrete strain

All the curves have some what similar character. Initially the curves are relatively straight line then begin to
curve to the horizontal, reaching the maximum compressive strength (cube or cylinder strength) at strain
approximately between 0.002 and 0.0025 and finally show a descending branch. Also it is seen that concrete
of lower strength are less brittle, that is fracture at a large maximum strain. Modulus of elasticity is seen to be
larger, the higher the strength of concrete. Modulus of elasticity of concrete may be defined as the initial
(dynamic) modulus, the tangent modulus and secant (static) modulus at stress level of 25% to 50% of the
compressive strength of concrete. But secant modulus is the simplest and the most commonly adopted
definition of elastic modulus of concrete. The definitions of elastic modulus of concrete are diagrammatically
shown in the figure below.





Tensile strength of concrete:- Even though concrete is weak in tension, its tensile strength is important in a
variety of items. Shear and torsion resistance of RC members primarily depend on tensile strength of

concrete. Further, the conditions under which cracks form and propagate on tension zone of RC flexural
members depend strongly on the tensile strength of concrete. Two methods are used to determine tensile
strength of concrete. These are beam-test and split-cylinder test method.
In beam test method, tensile strength of concrete is obtained by loading plain concrete test-beam laterally by
two point loads at the third points of test-beam until the tension zone of the beam fracture. Tensile strength of
concrete is then computed using flexural stress formula

in terms of modulus of rupture concrete. Where

M is the moment caused by the load applied on test beam that fracture on tension side and I c is sectionmodulus of a section of test beam. Standard size of test-beam according to BS 1881 is 150 x 150 x 750mm.
Because of the assumption that concrete is an elastic material and the bending stress is localized in outer most
fibers, it is apt to be larger than uniform axial tensile strength of concrete.
In split-cylinder test method, tensile strength of concrete is obtained by loading standard plain concrete
cylinder along the side until the cylinder splits in to two pieces. The tensile strength of concrete is the
computed by


. d .l

based on the theory of elasticity for homogeneous material in a bi-axial state of stress.

Whatever the method, it is known that, the tensile strength of concrete is relatively low, and it is about 10 to
15% of compressive strength of concrete.
Shrinkage and Thermal Movement: -Concrete may under go deformations and volume changes with out
application of loading. This phenomenon may be caused by shrinkage and thermal-movement in fresh and
hardened concrete. Shrinkage of concrete is liable to cause cracking, but it has the beneficial effect of
strengthening the bond between the reinforcing steel and the surrounding concrete. Shrinkage of concrete
increases with time at decreasing rate as the drying of concrete continues with time at a decreasing rate, and
ceases with maximum strain approximately about 0.003. Shrinkage increases with increase in cement and
water content. Shrinkage of concrete caused initially by the absorption of water by cement and aggregate, and
further by evaporation of water which rises to surface as a result of capillary action. During setting process the
hydration of cement causes a great deal of heat to be generated, and as the concrete cools, further shrinkage
takes place due to thermal contraction. Thermal shrinkage may be reduced by:
1. Using a mix-design with low cement content. EBCS-2 specifies cement content not to exceed
550kg/m3 of concrete.
2. Avoiding rapid hardening & finely ground cement.
3. Keeping aggregate & mixing water cool, or may be need to keep them under shade.
4. Maintaining the temperature & evaporating water by proper curing.

The use of low water-cement ratio also helps to reduce drying shrinkage by minimizing lose of volume of
moisture in concrete by evaporation.
If concrete shrinks freely without restraint, stresses will not develop in the concrete. Restraint of concrete
shrinkage, on the other hand, will cause tensile stresses. This restraint may be caused externally by fixity with
adjoining members, and internally by the action of steel reinforcement. This restraint may be reduced by
casting concrete using a system of constructing successive bays. This method of casting concrete allows the
free-end of every bay to contract before the next bay is cast. Thermal-movement will also cause tensile
stresses in the structure. Thermal stresses may be controlled by correct positioning of expansion-joint in the
structure. When tensile stresses caused by restraint of concrete shrinkage & thermal-movement exceed the
tensile strength of concrete, cracks will occur. To control width of these cracks, steel reinforcement must be
provided close to the concrete surface. Codes of practice specify minimum quantities of reinforcement in a
member for this purpose.
Creep of Concrete: - Creep is the continuous deformation of a member under sustained compressive stress
over a considerable length of time (under long-term loading). It is a phenomenon associated with brittle
materials (concrete is a brittle material). Creep deformation depends on the stress in concrete, duration of
loading and water-cement ratio. The effect of creep has to be considered in design of reinforced concrete
member subjected to compressive stress mainly caused by long term loading (dead load). A typical variation
of deformations with time can be obtained for concrete member subjected to axial deformation under constant


load over considerable length of time, as shown below.



creep re cov .



inst.. at 28 days

Duration of loading (in years)

The followings are some of the characteristic of creep:

1. Creep increases with elapse of time at a decreasing rate and ceases at a final value depending on
concrete strength and other factors. The final creep can attain 1.5 to 3 times the instantaneous

2. Creep is found to be roughly proportional to the intensity of loading and to the inverse of concrete
3. Modulus of elasticity of concrete is found to be decreasing over period of time. It is modified
considering creep as (if required to determine long term deflection)

Ee =

1 +

where -- ratio of creep to instantaneous deformation depending on age of concrete at first loading
as given in table below
Table: Creep Coefficient (IS:456)
Age of concrete at loading
7 days
28 days
365 days

Creep coefficient

4. If the load is removed, only the instantaneous strain and some of creep will recover.
5. There is a continuous redistribution of stresses between the concrete and any steel present in the
un-cracked compression zone of reinforced concrete section.
The effect of creep is particularly important in beams, where the increased deformations may cause the
opening of cracks and damage of finishes. To reduce creep deformation, it is necessary to provide nominal
reinforcement in the compression zone of the beam. The nominal area of compression steel required by doubly
reinforced beam is about 0.4% of the area in compression (which may be taken as 0.2% of the whole area
including tension zone).

Important Features of Concrete

Characteristic Strength of Materials

For both concrete end reinforcement the Code uses the term characteristic strength instead of
28-day works cube strength and yield stress, although it is related to these. The characteristic
strength for all materials has the notation fk and is defined as the value of the cube strength of
concrete (fcu), the yield or proof stress of reinforcement (fy), below which 5% of all possible test
results would be expected to fall. The value therefore is
fk = fm 1.64s

Where fm is the mean strength of actual test results determined in accordance with a standard
procedure, s is the standard deviation, and 1.64 is the value of the constant required to comply
with 5% of the test results falling below the characteristic strength, as indicated in Fig. 1.2.1.

Fig. 1.2.1 Characteristic strength

Compressive Strength

The strength of concrete for design purposes will be based on compressive tests made on cubes
at an age of 28 days unless there is satisfactory evidence that a particular testing regime is
capable of predicting the 28-day strength at an earlier age. These 28-day characteristic strengths
determine the grade of the concrete and it is important to select the correct grade appropriate for
use. The concrete has to provide the durability for the environmental conditions as well as
adequate strength for the loading requirements.
Table 1.2.1 Grades of Concrete


Permissible Grades of Cocrete













In accordance with Ethiopian Standards, compressive strength of concrete is determined from

tests on 150mm cubes at the age of 28 days. Cylindrical or cubical specimens of other sizes may
also be used with conversion factors determined from a comprehensive series of tests. In the
absence of such tests, the conversion factors given in Table 1.2.2 may be applied to obtain the
equivalent characteristic strength on the basis of 150mm cubes.

Table 1.2.2 Conversion Factors for strength

Size and Type of Test Specimen

Conversion Factor

Cube (200 mm)


Cylinder (150mm diameter 300mm height)


The characteristic cylinder compressive strength fck are given for different grades of concrete in
Table 1.2.3.
Table 1.2.3 Grades of Concrete and Characteristic Cylinder Compressive Strength fck.

Grades of















In selecting an appropriate grade of concrete, the designer has to determine the environment and
exposure conditions to which the members of the structure will be subjected.
Stress Strain Curve

Tan - Secant Modulus
Tan - Tangent Modulus

As there is no fixed ratio of fck/ to define the term modulus of elasticity, whenever E is used
without further designation, it is usually meant the secant modulus Ec in MPa.
The modulus of elasticity depends not only on the concrete grade but also on the actual
properties of the aggregates used. In the absence of more accurate data,
Ec = 9.5( f ck + 8) 3

Where, Ec is the secant modulus.


Another important factor to be considered in stress-strain of concrete is creep: a property where

increase in strain under constant load with time is observed. Factors attributing:- loading at an
early stage, high water cement ratio, exposing the concrete to drying condition.

Tensile Strength

- Important in design to resist shear, torsion & control crack width.

- Difficult to obtain from test because of handling problems. Based on tests for other
property empirical relations are used to obtain tensile strength. For instance, in Ethiopian
standards f ctk = 0.21 f ck2 3 , where fctk = tensile strength of concrete in MPa and fck =

characteristic cylindrical compressive strength in MPa.


Reinforcing Steel

Steel reinforcements are available in the form of round bars and welded wire fabric. The most commonly used
bars have projected ribs on the surface of bar. Such bars are called deformed bars. The ribs of deformed bar
improve the bond between steel and the surrounding concrete in RC members by providing mechanical keys.
A wide range of reinforcing bars is available with nominal diameter ranging 6mm to 35mm. Most bars except
6mm diameter are deformed one. Some of the common bar size with their application in concrete works are
given in table below.


for stirrups

for slabs


for beams & columns





































Strength of reinforcing steel:- Reinforcing steel is capable of resisting both tension and compression.
Compared with concrete, it is a high strength material. For instance, the strength of ordinary reinforcing steel
is about 10 & 100 times, the compressive & tensile strength of common structural concrete.
Typical stress-strain curves for mild-steel and high-yield (cold-worked) steel are shown in figures below.





stress , fS

Stress, fS

proof stress

ES = 200GPa

ES = 200GPa


Strain, S

Fig a: Stress-strain curve for mild-steel

(S-250MPa, S-300MPa)

Strain, S

Fig b: Stress-strain curve for high-yield steel

(S-420MPa, S-460MPa, S-500MPa)

The strength of mild steel is taken as yield point or yield stress of steel whereas for high-yield steel is based
on specified proof stress of steel. 0.2% proof stress is specified in most codes to determine strength of highyield steel. A 0.2% offset is drawn parallel to the linear part of the stress-strain curve to determine 0.2% proof
The shape of the stress-strain curve is similar for all steel, and differs only in the value of strength of steel, the
modulus of elasticity, ES being for all practical purposes constant. ES is taken as 200GPa. For a design of RC
members, reinforcing steel up to grade of 550MPa can be used. If steel with grade beyond 550MPa is used for

RC member, the sections are under utilizing the reinforcement. This is because the width of concrete crack is
wide if the steel is fully stressed.

Reinforced Concrete (as a composite material)

It is known that plain concrete is quite strong in compression, weak in tension. On the other hand, steel is a
high cost material which able to resist both tension & compression. The two materials (plain concrete &
reinforcing steel) are best be utilized in logical combination if steel bars are embedded in the plain concrete in
tension zone close to the surface. In this case, plain concrete is made to resist the compressive stresses and
reinforcing steel resists the tensile stresses. Both plain concrete & reinforcing steel bar together assumed to
act as one composite unit and it is termed as reinforced concrete (RC). The tensile stresses developed in the
section are transferred to reinforcing steel by the bond between the interfaces of the two materials.
In all RC members, strength design is made on the assumption that concrete does not resist any tensile
stresses. All the tensile stresses are assumed to be resisted by the reinforcing steel imbedded in tension zone.
Some times if necessary, reinforcing steel is provided in compression zone to assist the concrete resisting
compression in addition to reducing creep deformation.
Reinforcing steel & concrete may work readily in combinations due to the following reasons.
1. Bond between the bars & the surrounding concrete prevents slip of the bars relative to the
concrete. Adequate concrete cover for steel bar and embedment length of bar are required to
transfer stress between steel and concrete without slipping.
2. Proper concrete mixes provide adequate impermeability of concrete against bar corrosion.
3. Sufficiently similar rates of thermal expansion (0.00001/0C to 0.000013/0C for concrete and
0.000012/0C for steel) introduce negligible stresses between steel and concrete under temperature
Advantages of Reinforced Concrete:
1. It is monolithic. This gives it more rigidity.
2. It is durable. It does not deteriorate with time.
3. While it is plastic, it can be moldable into any desired shape.
4. It is fire, weather and corrosion resistant.
5. By proper proportioning of mix, concrete can be made water-tight.
6. It maintenance cost is practically nil.


Disadvantages of Reinforced Concrete:

1. It is difficult to demolish in case of repair of modification.
2. It is too difficult to inspect after the concrete has been poured.

1.4. Behavior under Load


Loads that act on structures can be divided into three categories: dead loads, live loads, and
environmental loads.
Dead loads are those that are constant in magnitude and fixed in location throughout the lifetime
of the structure. Usually the major part of the dead load is the weight of the structure itself. This
can be calculated with good accuracy from the design configuration, dimensions of the structure,
and density of the material. For buildings, floor fill, finish floors, and plastered ceilings are
usually included as dead loads, and an allowance is made for suspended loads such as piping and
lighting fixtures. For bridges, dead loads may include wearing surfaces, side walks, and curbing,
and an allowance is made for piping and other suspended loads.
Live loads consist chiefly of occupancy loads in buildings and traffic loads on bridges. They may
be either fully or partially in place or not present at all, and may also change in location. Their
magnitude and distribution at any given time are uncertain, and even their maximum intensities
throughout the lifetime of the structure are not known with precision. The minimum live loads
for which the floors and roof of a building should be designed are usually specified in the
building code that governs at the site of construction. Representative values of minimum live
loads to be used in a wide variety of buildings are found in Minimum Design Loads for Buildings
and other structures.
Live loads in codes are usually approximated by uniformly distributed load. In addition to these
uniformly distributed loads, it is recommended that, as an alternative to the uniform load, floors
be designed to support safely certain concentrated loads if these produce a greater stress. Certain

reductions are often permitted in live loads for members supporting large areas, on the premise
that it is not likely that the entire area would be fully loaded at one time.
Service live loads for highway bridges are specified by the American Association of State
Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in its Standard Specifications for Highway
Bridges. For railway bridges, the American Railway Engineering Association (AREA) has
published the Manual of Railway Engineering, which specifies traffic loads.
Environmental loads consist mainly of snow loads, wind pressure and suction, earthquake loads
(i.e., inertia forces caused by earthquake motions), soil pressures on subsurface portions of
structures, loads from possible ponding of rainwater on flat surfaces, and forces caused by
temperature differentials. Like live loads, environmental loads at any given time are uncertain
both in magnitude and distribution.
Much progress has been made in recent years in developing rational methods for predicting
horizontal forces on structures due to wind and seismic action. Most building codes specify
design wind pressure per square foot of vertical wall surface. Depending upon locality, these
equivalent static forces vary from about 0.48 KPa up to 2.4KPa. factors considered in more up to
date standards include probable wind velocity exposure (urban vs. open terrain, for example),
and height of the structure, the importance of the structure (i.e. consequences of failure), and the
guest response factors to account for the fluctuating nature of the wind and its interaction with
the structure.
Seismic forces may be found for a particular structure by elastic or inelastic dynamic analysis,
considering the expected ground accelerations and the mass, stiffness, and damping
characteristic of the construction. However, often the design is based on equivalent static forces
calculated from provisions. The base shear is found by considering such factors as location, type
of structure and its occupancy, total dead load, and the particular soil condition. The total lateral
force is distributed to floors over the entire height of the structure in such a way as to
approximate the distribution of forces from a dynamic analysis.


Characteristic loads

For loading we use the characteristic load (Fk) as the basis. Ideally this should be determined
from the mean load and its standard deviation from the mean, and using the same probability as
for the materials we should say that Fk = Fm + 1.64s. The characteristic load would be that value
of loading such that not more than 5% of the spectrum of loading throughout the life of structure

Frequency of results

will lie above the value of the characteristic load (Figure 1.4.1).



5% of results
to right of this

Fk = Fm + 1.64s



Figure 1.4.1 Characteristic load

The characteristic dead, imposed and wind loads have the notation Gk, Qk, Wk respectively,
where the upper-case letters denote the total load on a span. Lower-case letters denote uniform
load per square meter, although in design examples for beams the lower-case letters have been
used for a uniformly distributed load, so that Gk = gkl.


In RC structures such as beams, the tension caused by bending moment is chiefly resisted by the
steel reinforcement while the concrete alone is usually capable of resisting the corresponding
compression. Such joint action of the two materials is assumed if the relative slip is prevented

which is achieved by using deformed bars, with their high bond strength at the steel concrete
interface. To illustrate the stress strain development for increased loading consider the following.
Increasing load

Very low load

Tension cracks






f ct
(a) Very low loading





(b) Increased loading

(c) loading nearly at failure

Figure 1.4.2 Behavior of RC beam under load

At low loads where tensile stress is less than or equals to fctk stress-strain relation shown in

figure 1.4.2a results.

At increased load tensile stress produced is larger than fctk (figure 1.4.2b) crack develops

below neutral axis, the steel alone carries all tensile force and hence the compressive stress
at extreme fiber is less than fc (linear stress distribution).
For further increment of load, the stress distribution is longer linear as shown in fig. 1.4.2c.

If the structure, say the beam, has reached its maximum carrying capacity, one may conclude the
following on the cause of failure.
(i). When the amount of steel is small at some value of the load, the steel reaches it yield
point. In such circumstances, the steel stretches a large amount and tension cracks in the
concrete widen visibly resulting significant deflection of the beam. Compression zone of
concrete increases ending up with crushing of concrete (secondary compression failure).
Such failure is gradual and is preceded by visible signs, widening and lengthening of
cracks, marked increase in deflection.


(ii). When a large amount of steel is used, compressive strength of concrete would be exhausted
before the steel starts yielding, thus, concrete fails by crushing. Compression failure
through crushing of concrete is sudden and occurs without warning.
Thus it is a good practice to dimension sections in such a way that should they be overloaded,
yielding of steel rather than crushing of concrete would initiate failure.
Behavior of RC Beam under Lateral Loading

When beam is subjected to gradually increasing lateral load, there is change in stresses & deformations. If
these stresses and deformations exceed the capacity of the materials of the beam, the beam will fail. Tests
have shown that RC beams may fail either along a vertical (normal) plane or a diagonal plane. The aim of
design of a member is to ensure resistance of section of beam along all planes. Three stages of behavior can
be observed at a section of maximum moment, when singly reinforced beam is subjected to gradually
increasing load till failure.
Stage-I (un-cracked section):- In initial stages of loading (under low loading), tension-cracks will not

develop in the section of RC beam. The stresses in compression & tension zone of concrete are within elastic
range; and the maximum tension stress, fct in the concrete is smaller than the tensile strength (modulus of
rapture) of concrete. The reinforcing steel deforms the same amount of the adjacent concrete and subjected to
tension stress. The distribution of strains and stresses in concrete & steel at section of maximum bending
moment of a beam in stage-I are shown in figure below. These strains & stresses distributions are used in
design of water-tight structures.
At low loading
No tension crack

fCC = EC. C


f S ES . S


fCt < fct,allow




Stage-II (cracked section under working load):- When the loading is further increased, the tensile strength

of concrete is soon reached, at this stage tension cracks start to develop in tension zone of the beam. These
cracks propagate quickly upward to or close to the level of the neutral plane, which in turn shifts further
upward with progressive cracking. In well designed beams, the width of these cracks is so small (hair-line

cracks) that they are not objectionable from the view point of either corrosion protection or appearance of
crack. It is known that the presence of these cracks profoundly affects the behavior of RC beam under the
load. These cracks make the concrete not to resist any tension stresses, the entire tension stresses are to be
resisted by the reinforcing steel placed in tension zone. At moderate loading, if the concrete stresses do not
exceed approximately fcu/3, stresses & strains continue to be closely proportional. The distribution of strains
& stresses developed in section of maximum bending moment of a beam at or near to vertical tension-crack
are shown in figure below. These strains & stresses distributions are used in working stress (elastic) design
method and in serviceability limit state for crack.

At moderate loading

Tension crack

fC fC,allow


S , allow

Cracked section
(Under working load)



Stage III (cracked section under ultimate load):- When the load is still further increased, the cracks in the

tension zone open and the tension in the bars reaches yield stress. The compressive stress in the concrete is no
longer proportional to the strain and, concrete continue to deform plastically. As the load is increasing, plastic
deformation in concrete is complete and failure commences. The strains & stresses developed at section of
maximum bending moment of a beam in this stage are shown in the figure below.




S yd
< yd


fS = fyd
= ES . S

Cracked section
(Under ultimate load)



The character of the transition from stage-II to stage-III depends upon the amount of reinforcement used by
the section. If the section is properly reinforced that is, under reinforced, failure will initiated by yielding of
tension steel. As steel bars yielding, the beam continues to deform until compression concrete cracks. Such
yield failure is gradual, and it is followed by visible signs. On other hand, if the section is over-reinforced, the
compression zone concrete will fail (crushes) before the steel bars reach the yield stress. Compression failure
through crushing of concrete is sudden, of an almost explosive nature, and occurs without warning. Beside
this, the section is uneconomical because large amount of steel is used by section compared to concrete.


Design Philosophies (Methods)

The object of reinforced concrete design is to achieve a structure or part structure that will result in a safe and
economical solution. For a given structural system, the design problem consists of the following steps:
1. Idealization of structure for analysis (dimension of members, support condition of structure and etc.)
2. Estimation of loadings.
3. Analysis of idealized structural model to determine stress-resultants (axial forces, shear forces,
torsions & bending moments) and their effects (deformations).
4. Design of structural elements (if assumed dimensions are adequate).
5. Detailed structural drawings and schedule of reinforcing bars.
To achieve safe and economic structures, three philosophies of design had been adopted by codes of practices.
These are:

Working Stress Design (WSD) or Elastic Design Method

Ultimate Strength Design (USD) Method, and

Limit State Design (LSD) Method.

Working Stress Design (WSD) method: -WSD is the oldest and simplest method of design used for

reinforced concrete structures. It is based on the assumption that concrete is elastic, steel & concrete
together act elastically. Also, the stresses developed in concrete & steel are not exceeded the respective


allowable stresses any where in the structure when structure is subjected to the worst combination of
service design loads. The allowable stresses of materials are determined dividing material strengths by a
factor of safety. Safety factors specified by British standard are 3 for concrete and 1.8 for reinforcing
steel. These safety factors are obtained from many years of practical experience and engineering
judgment. The safety factors specified by codes are assumed to cover all uncertainties existing in
estimations of service design loads and material strengths.
The sections of members of structure are designed in accordance with elastic theory of bending assuming that
both materials obeying Hookes law. The elastic theory assumes a linear variation of strain & stress from zero
at neutral axis to a maximum at the extreme fibers of section of member; and the maximum stress developed
any where in properly designed element of structure not to exceed the allowable stress of the materials.
Thus, design format used in WSD method may be expressed as:

f ( stress due to service design loads ) f allow (material strength)

The main drawbacks of WSD method are as follows:
1. Concrete is not elastic material. The inelastic behavior of concrete starts right from very low stresses.
The actual stress distribution of concrete in section can not be described by a triangular stress
2. Since factor of safety is applied on the strength of materials, there is no way to account for different
degrees of uncertainty associated with different types of loadings.
3. It is difficult to account for creep and shrinkage by computations of elastic stresses.
Beside these drawbacks, the method does not ensure consistence safety of structure and also provide
uneconomical section.

Ultimate Strength Design (USD) method: -Design of structure or part of structure in USD method is

based on ultimate load theory; and it is made to resist the desired ultimate (collapse) loads using idealized
strength model (either parabola or parabola-rectangle stress block) just before failure of section
plastically. In ultimate load theory, it is assumed that the section of member of structure failed plastically
when the maximum compressive strain of concrete reaches the ultimate compressive strain of concrete
specified by codes (may be about 0.3 to 0.35%). The desired ultimate loads are obtained by increasing
sufficiently the service loadings using specified factors. These factors are called over-load factors.
Separate over-load factors are applied for different loadings considering uncertainties existing in
estimation of different loadings. Design format used in USD method may be expressed as:

strength provided
( stress block )

action due to ultimate loads

( analysis of structure )


A major advantage of USD method over WSD method is that total safety factor of structure thus found to be
nearer to its actual value. Further, structures designed by USD method require less reinforcement than those
designed by the WSD method.
The main draw backs of USD method are as follows:
1. Since load factor is used on the service loads, there is no way to account for different degrees of
uncertainty associated with variation in material strengths.
2. There is complete disregard for control against excessive deflections.

Limit State Design (LSD) method: -Limit state design method has developed from ultimate strength

design method in order to apply in service load and ultimate load conditions. Design of structure in limit
state is made to achieve an acceptable probability that structure or part of it will not become unfit for use
for which it is intended during expected life. That is, it will not reach any of the specified limit state. The
limit state of structure is the condition of its being not fit for use. A structure with appropriate degrees of
reliability should be able to withstand safely all possible combinations of design loads that are liable to
act on it throughout its life and it should also satisfy the serviceability requirements, such as, limitations
on deflection and cracking. Further, it should be able to maintain the required structural integrity during
and after accidents such as fires, explosions and local failure. In other words, all relevant limit states must
to be considered in design to ensure an adequate degree of safety and serviceability. These limit states
which must be examined in design are broadly classified in to two major limit states. These are:
- Ultimate strength limit state (Limit state of collapse), and
- Serviceability limit state

Ultimate strength limit state: -which deals with the strength and stability of the structure under the

maximum over load it is expected to carry. This implies that whole of the structure or part of it should not
fail under any combination of expected over load. Ultimate load theory is generally applicable for
ultimate strength limit state. Ultimate strength limit state may include ultimate limit state for:
-stability of structure for over-turning & sliding


Serviceability limit state: -which deals with conditions such as deflection, cracking of structure under

service loads, durability, excessive vibration, fire resistance, fatigue, etc. Elastic (working stress) theory is
generally applicable for serviceability limit state.
When dealing with the most economical structure associated with safety and serviceability requirements,
the variability exists between construction materials and the construction process itself. We should be
able to state a design philosophy to cope with the various criteria required to define the serviceability or
usefulness of any structure in a rational manner.

The various criteria required to define the serviceability or usefulness of any structure can be described
under the following headlines. The effects listed may lead to the structure being considered 'unfit for use'.
(i). Collapse: failure of one or more critical sections; overturning or buckling.
(ii). Deflection: the deflection of the structure or any part of the structure adversely affects
the appearance or efficiency of the structure.
(iii). Cracking: cracking of the concrete which may adversely affect the appearance or efficiency of the
(iv). Vibration: vibration from forces due to wind or machinery may cause discomfort or alarm,
damage the structure or interfere with its proper function.
(v). Durability: porosity of concrete.
(vi). Fatigue: where loading is predominantly cyclic in character the effects have to be considered.
(vii). Fire resistance: insufficient resistance to fire leading to 1, 2 and 3 above.
When any structure is rendered unfit for use for its designed function by one or more of the above causes,
it is said to have entered a limit state. The Code defines the limit states as:
(i). Ultimate limit state: the ultimate limit state is preferred to collapse.
(ii). Serviceability limit states: deflection, cracking, vibration, durability, fatigue, fire resistance and
The purpose of design then is to ensure that the structure being designed will not become unfit for the use
for which it is required, i.e. that it will not reach a limit state. The essential basis for the design method,
therefore, is to consider each limit state and to provide a suitable margin of safety. To obtain values for
this margin of safety it was proposed that probability considerations should be used and the design


process should aim at providing acceptable probabilities so that the structure would not become unfit for
use throughout its specified life.
Accepting the fact that the strengths of construction materials vary, as do also the loads on the structure,
two partial safety factors will now be used. One will be for materials and is designated m; the other, for
loading, is termed f. These factors will vary for the various limit states and different materials. As new
knowledge on either materials or loading becomes available the factors can be amended quit easily
without the complicated procedures to amend one overall factor used in previous Codes.
The normal procedure is to design for a critical limit state and then to check for the other limit states are
satisfied. The critical state for reinforced concrete structures is usually the ultimate limit state. However,
water-retaining structures and prestressed concrete is usually designed at the serviceability limit state with
checks on the ultimate limit state.
The limit states failure criteria can be summarized as follows:
(Design load effects Qd) (Deisgn resistance Rd)

f Qn


Qd = design load effects = f Qn

Qn = nominal load

f = partial safety factor for loads

Rd = design resistance = fk/m
fk = characteristic material strength

m = partial safety factor for materials

Each of these terms are discussed in the following sections.
Safety Factors

Partial Safety Factors for Materials at ULS

Design Situations

Concrete, c

Reinforcing Steel, s

Class I

Class II

Class I

Class II

Persistent and Transient











Partial Safety Factors for Actions in Building Structures at ULS

Design Situation





Persistent and













Building Design Codes Provisions

Table Classification of loads





Settlement, shrinkage,


Soil pressure, self-weight of

creep (results from

structure and fixed equipment

direct permanent

Time variation

People, wind, furniture,


snow, traffic, construction

Temperature effects


Explosion, vehicular impact

Temperature rise
during fire

Self-weight (generally), trains


Closely bounded


Spatial variation


(fixed in direction normal to

Not closely

Persons, office furniture

All gravity loads
Engines, turbines, wind on
slender structures

Water pressure, self weight

Snow, people


Design values for actions for use in combination with other actions at ULS.




Principal action

All other actions











Design Situation


Combination values:

Qr = 0Qk

Frequent values:

Qr = 1Qk

Variable actions

Qausi-permanent values: Qr = 2Qk


Qr = representative value
Qk = characteristic value

Representative load factors, 0, 1, 2

Category A, B




Category C, D




Category E




Imposed loads









* Values may have to be modified for specific locations.

Category A Domestic, Residential.
Category B Offices
Category C Congregation areas
Category D Shopping areas.
Category E Storage areas


Characteristic Load: -It is defined as that load which has a 95% probability of not being exceeded

during the life of structure. The characteristic loads, Lk if given by

Lk = Lm + 1.64 L

if the loading is normally distributed.


- mean load

- Standard deviation of load

Even if characteristic load can be defined ideally in statistical terms, it is not yet possible to determine
statistically in absent of sufficient load data. The nominal values given by codes may be taken as
characteristic values.
Design loads: - Factors are used to allow for the possible differences in the loads that may actually come

on a structure as compared to their characteristic value. The design load, Ld is given by

Ld = f . Lk

Lk - characteristic load

- partial safety factor appropriate to the nature of loading and limit state being

In the design of structures, the design loads shall be considered to act in combinations which produce the
most unfavorable effect.
-Design load combinations for Limit state according to ESCP-1/83 are given as follow:
i) Ultimate Strength Limit State:

(1.3DL+1.6LL) or











--for over-all stability of structure



--the same in EBCS-1

--the corresponding in EBCS-1

--for over-all stability of structure

--the corresponding in EBCS-1

ii) Serviceability Limit State:



DL+LL or

DL, only


-Design load combinations for WSD method according to ESCP-1/83 are given as follow:



--for over-all stability of structure




--for over-all stability of structure

Characteristic Strength of Material: -is defined as that strength below which not more than 5% of the

test-results are expected to fall. The same definition is used for both concrete and reinforcing steel. The
characteristic strength of material, fk if given by

f k = f m 1.64 f

(if the strength is normally distributed)


- mean strength of material

- standard deviation of strength of material

Characteristic compressive strength of concrete is represented by the 28 days cube strength, f cu , of

concrete; and characteristic strength of steel is represented by the yield or 0.2% proof stress, f y , of
reinforcing steel.
Characteristic Tensile Strength of Concrete: the characteristic tensile strength of concrete can be

determined statistically by the same equation given above using test results obtained from split-cylinder
test or from beam-test. It can also be determined using empirical relation obtained from a number of tests
in terms of characteristic compressive strength of concrete given by codes. According to ESCP-2,
characteristic tensile strength of concrete is obtained using

f ctk = 0.35 f cu

(fcu & fctk are in MPa)

According to EBCS-2, characteristic tensile strength of concrete is obtained using

f ctk = 0.21 (0.8 f cu ) 2 3

(fcu & fctk are in MPa)

Grade of Concrete: -concrete is graded in terms of characteristic compressive cube strength. The grade

of concrete to be used in design depends on the classification of concrete works and its intended use.
EBCS-2 specifies grades of concrete for two classes of concrete works as shown below.

Grades of concrete


Grades of concrete (MPa)














Classes of concrete works are given depending on the quality of workmanship and the competence of the
supervisions directing the works. Class II work are permissible only for single story agricultural, social or
residential buildings and structures.
Grades C-5 shall be used only for lean concrete bases and simple foundations for masonry walls. Grades
lower than C-15 can not be used in reinforced concrete, lower than C-30 can not be used pre-stressed
Acceptance (Compliance) Criteria for Concrete: In order to ensure proper control on the quality of

concrete, codes provide acceptance criteria. Random samples of concrete mix are taken and tested after
28 days. According to IS:456-78 code, the strength requirement is satisfied if:
A. Every sample has a test compressive strength not less than the specified grade of concrete. or
B. The strength of one or more samples, though less than the specified grade of concrete, is in
each case not less than 0.8 times the specified grade of concrete.
According to ACI-318 code, adequate control of strength of concrete occurs when the following
requirements are met:
1) Average of all set of the three consecutive compressive strength tests is equal or exceeded the
specified grade of concrete.
2) No individual compressive strength test (average of two cylinders) fall below the specified grade
of concrete by more than 3.4MPa.
According to EBCS-2/95 code, adequate control of strength of concrete occurs when the following
conditions are satisfied simultaneously:

f C (mean) ( f cu + m arg in stength, k1 )

f C (avg of the min imum strength for several lots ) ( f cu m arg in strength, k 2 )

margin strength, k1 and k2 specified by code is 5MPa & 1MPa for samples in the first two lots,
4MPa & 2MPa for samples in third & fourth lots, and 3MPa & 3MPa for samples in fifth lots &
above, respectively.

Design Strength of Material in Limit State: The design strength for a given material and limit state is
given by:

fd =


where fk -- characteristic strength of materials

m partial safety factor for materials


However, in the case of concrete under compression, a further correction factor (about 0.67 times fd, the
corresponding in the latest code is 0.68 times fd) is introduced to account for the difference in strength
indicated by a cube test and the strength of concrete in structure. Thus, the design strength of concrete and
steel are given by:

Design Strength for Concrete

(a) In compression:

f cd =

0.67 f cu



f ctd =

(b) In tension:

f cd =


f cd =

0.68 f cu


0.85 f ck

f ctk

Design Strength for Steel

In tension and compression:

f yd =

f yk

Design Strength of Materials in Working Stress Design Method: The design strength of materials in

working stress design method is the allowable (permissible) stress which is generally given by
f allow =



fk --characteristic strength of material

FS Factor of safety specified by code

-According to British standards (CP-114), factor of safety of 3 is applied to the strength of concrete; and
1.8 is applied to the strength of steel. And, whatever the strength of steel, the allowable tensile stress in
steel is limited to a maximum value of 230MPa.
-According to ESCP-1, allowable strength of materials are given depending on classes of concrete works
as follows:

For Class I-concrete work

f c , allow = 0.335 f cu & f s , allow = 0.522 f y

For Class II-concrete work

f c , allow = 0.3045 f cu & f s , allow = 0.50 f y


-According to ACI code, allowable strength of materials are as given below.

f c , allow = 0.45 * (0.8 f cu )

for f y = 275.8 MPa & f y = 344.8 MPa

137.8 MPa
f s , allow =
165.5 MPa

for f y = 413.7 MPa

Idealized Stress-Strain Diagrams: For s design purpose, most codes adopt idealized stress-strain

diagrams in predicting the ultimate strength of sections in plastic-theory. In EBCS-2, a parabola-rectangle

stress-strain diagram is given for concrete in compression as shown in figure below.


f cu

f cd =

0.67 f cu

for c 0.002, f c = 1000 c (250 c 1) f cd

- 0.002

- 0.0035

This code also idealized the stress-strain diagram for steel with ultimate strain of 0.01 as shown in figure
below. It is a portion of stress-strain diagram of steel. The maximum strain of steel, s , max = 0.01
permitted by code assumed to limit width of concrete crack in tension zone to acceptable limit.



f yd =


ES = 200 GPa


Modulus of Elasticity of Concrete: According to ESCP-2/83 and EBCS-2/95, mean value of the secant
modulus, EC is given as shown in table below.

f cu (MPa)
Ec (GPa) ---ESCP-2/83
Ec (GPa) ---EBCS-2/95

C-15 C-20 C-25 C-30 C-40 C-50 C-60















Patterns of Live Load Arrangement for Maximum Effects

A structure should be analyzed for all possible arrangement of live loading (including dead load on the
structure which may cover the whole length) which produce the maximum stresses-resultant (bending
moment & shear force) at particular point of structure. Live load arrangement on continuous beam to
a) Maximum positive span moment is to load that particular span and alternate span.
b) Maximum negative support moment is to load the adjacent span of that support and then alternate
Analysis of continuous beam are made for all possible alternative arrangements of live load (including
dead load) to obtain design shear force envelope diagram and bending moment envelope diagram by
over-lapping internal forces diagrams obtained for different loading arrangements.