You are on page 1of 39




Reinforced concrete is one of the most abundantly used construction material, not
only in the developed world, but also in the remotest parts of the developing world. The
RCC structures constructed in the developed world are often found to exhibit distress and
suffer damage, even before their service period is over due to several causes such as
improper design, faulty construction, change of usage of the building, change in codal
provisions, overloading, earthquakes, explosion, corrosion, wear and tear, flood, fire etc.

Such unserviceable structures require immediate attention, enquiry into the cause of
distress and suitable remedial measures, so as to bring the structure into its functional use


In the last few decades several attempts have been made in India and abroad to
study these problems and to increase the life of the structures by suitable retrofitting and
strengthening techniques. Of the various retrofitting techniques available, plate bonding is
one of the most effective and convenient methods of retrofitting. Among the plate bonding
techniques FRP plates are quite popular now-a-days. But it is observed that the use of FRP
is restricted to developed countries or urban areas of the developing countries due to higher
initial cost and requirement of skilled labour for their application. Thus, there is a need to
develop an alternative technique, which is economical and can be executed at site with the
help of semi-skilled labour available at site. Ferrocement jacketing is found to be one such
attractive technique due to its properties such as good tensile strength, lightweight, overall
economy, water tightness, easy application and long life of the treatment.

Many experimental studies have been conducted in recent years to strengthen
flexural members by using various materials. Andrew and Sharma (1998) in an
experimental study compared the flexural performance of reinforced concrete beams
repaired with conventional method and ferrocement. They concluded that beams repaired
by ferrocement showed superior performance both at t h e service and ultimate load. The
flexural strength and ductility of beams repaired with ferrocement was reported to be
greater than the corresponding original beams and the beams repaired by the conventional

The behaviour of ferrocement in flexure depends upon various parameters such as mortar,
type of wire mesh, orientation of wire mesh etc.; hence the behaviour of ferrocement
jackets. In the present paper the effect of wire mesh orientation on the strength, toughness
and ductility of the retrofitted beams is presented.

Ferrocement is a type of building materials made up of a relatively thin layer of cement

mortar reinforced with layers of continuous uniformly distributed wire mesh. The ACI
Committee 549 [1] defined ferrocement as a type of thin wall reinforced concrete
commonly constructed of hydraulic cement mortar reinforced with closely spaced layers of
continuous and relatively small diameter wire mesh. The cementing mix consists of
cement and sand mortar while the reinforcement steel wire mesh has openings large
enough for adequate bonding of the mixture. The uniform dispersion of the steel wire mesh
and the close distribution of its opening transform the usually weak and brittle mortar
mixture into a high performance building material distinctly different from normal
reinforced concrete. This steel wire mesh is also responsible for ferrocement structures to
have greater tensile strength and flexibility which is not found in ordinary concrete
structures. It possesses higher tensile strength to weight ratio and a degree of toughness,
ductility, durability and cracking resistance considerably greater than those found in other
conventional cement based materials [2]. Since ferrocement is made of the same
cementitious materials as reinforced concrete structure (RC), it is ideally used as an
alternative strengthening component for rehabilitation work on any RC structures.

The most widely used construction materials in todays world would be concrete and
steel combined to make reinforced concrete as can be seen in most building construction.
However, the first known example of the usage of reinforced concrete started with the
construction of boats when Joseph Lambot of France began to put metal reinforcing inside
concrete in 1840s. That was the birth of reinforced concrete and from there subsequent
developments followed. The technology at that period could not accommodate the time
and effort needed to produce meshes of thousands of wires. Instead, large rods were used
to make what is now called standard reinforced concrete.

One of the greatest assets of ferrocement is its relatively low unit cost of materials but
in countries which demand higher cost of labor, the usage of ferrocement is not
economical. For countries where unskilled, low-cost labor is available and can be trained,
and as long as a standard type of construction is adhered to, the efficiency of labor will
improve considerably, resulting in a reduced unit cost. With these conditions, ferrocement
proves to be a more favorable option than other materials used in construction, all of which
have a higher unit material cost and require greater inputs of skilled labor. The primary
worldwide applications of ferrocement construction to date have been for tanks, roofs,
silos and mostly boats. In this paper, the flexural behavior of beam strengthened with
ferrocement laminate will be investigated. The result from the testing of ferrocement
strengthened beam will be compared to a control beam to have a clearer insight into the
advantages of using ferrocement. The cracking behavior and ultimate load carrying
capacity will be highlighted in this paper.

The use of ferrocement was first started as early as in 1848. It took the form of a
rowing boat constructed by Jean Louis Lambot. The boat, still in a remarkably good
condition, is on display in a museum at Brigholes, France. Since then, ferrocement was
mainly used in the marine environment.

In the early 1940s, Pier Luigi Nervi resurrected the original ferrocement concept
when he observed that reinforcing concrete with layers of wire mesh produced a material
possessing the mechanical characteristics of an approximately homogeneous material and
capable of resisting impact. After the Second World War, Nervi demonstrated the utility
of ferrocement as a boat-building material. His firm built the 165-ton motor sailor Irene
with a ferrocement hull about 36mm thick.

Ferrocement gained wide acceptance only in the early 1960s in United Kingdom,
New Zealand, and Australia. In 1965, an American-owned ferrocement yacht built in New
Zealand, the 16m Awahnee, circumnavigated the world twice without serious problems,
although it encountered several mishaps.

Nervi built a small storehouse of ferrocement in 1947 which was approximately

10.7m 21.3m. This was the first time ferrocement concept in the applications to
building. Later he covered the swimming pool at the Italian Naval Academy with a 15m-
diameter dome and then the famous Turin Exhibition Hall a roof system spanning 91m.
In both cases, ferrocement served as permanent forms for the structural system including
the main support ribs.

In 1958, the technology then spread to Russia with the construction of a number of
structures. Examples of these were a ferrocement vault of 17.0m spans in one of the metro
stations in Leningrad and the interior of a hall covered with ferrocement elements.

The more recent ferrocement structures include the Sydney Opera House, built in
1973. Ferrocement tiles were used as surfacing on the vaults of the Opera House, a major
arts centre in Sydney. Similar beautiful buildings and mosque were built in India and
Indonesia using ferrocement.


Ferrocement is particularly suited to developing countries for the following reasons:

Its basic raw materials are available in most countries.

It can be fabricated into almost any shape to meet the needs of the user; traditional
designs can be reproduced and often improved.
The skills required for ferrocement construction are quickly acquired, and include
many skills traditional in developing countries. Ferrocement construction does not
need heavy plant or machinery; it is labour intensive. Being labour intensive, it is
relatively inexpensive in developing countries. Except for sophisticated and highly
stressed designs, as those for deepwater vessels, a trained supervisor can achieve the
requisite amount of quality control using fairly unskilled labour for fabrication.
In case of damage, it can be repaired easily.
The beauty of ferrocement was that it could appear in any shapes. Only imagination
could limit the forms and shapes of this beautiful and cheap material. Further unskilled
labour could be employed to construct the structure. The material and labour required are
plentiful in the developing countries, especially in rural areas. These factors make it a very
appropriate material for national developments.




Rehabilitation work has emerged as an important subject in an effort to deal with the
problems of deteriorating infrastructure. For that purpose, several strengthening methods
have been used in the past such as enlargement of cross section, reduction of span length,
external post-tensioning, addition of new steel members and external plate bonding with
FRP plate which result in various degree of success. There is a need to develop an
alternative technique, which can be implemented at site with the help of semi-skilled labor
available on site. The advantages of using ferrocement for strengthening work are its high
tensile strength, easy application as well as its low cost in terms of materials and labors.
This has led to a large scale of research on this material and thus produced a lot of
information regarding the design and construction techniques using ferrocement.


The strengthening of reinforced concrete beams using ferrocement laminates attached

onto the surface of the beams has been carried out by Paramasivam, Lim and Ong [2]. In
the research, they have come to the conclusions that the addition of ferrocement laminates
to the soffit (tension face) of the beams tested statistically substantially delayed the first
crack load, restrained cracks from further widening and increased the flexural stiffness and
load capacities of the strengthened beam.. Thus, it is suggested that the surface of the beam
to receive the ferrocement laminate to be roughened and provided with closely spaced
shear connectors in order to ensure full composite action.

Nassif and Najm [3] conducted an experimental and analytical investigation of
ferrocement-concrete composite beams whereby the method of shear transfer between
composite layers is examined. It was concluded from this study that full composite action
between both layers cannot be attained based on rough surfaces without shear studs and a
minimum of five studs should be used to ensure full composite action. Shear studs with
hooks exhibited better pre-cracking stiffness as well as cracking strength compared to all
other types of studs. It was also concluded that beam specimens with square mesh are
better for crack control than beam with hexagonal mesh.

A research done by Jumaat and Alam [4] showed that the spacing of the shear
connectors used for the purpose of strengthening of beam also affects the formation of first
crack, mid-span deflections and also the load capacity of the beam. The improvements in
cracking, deflection and ultimate load was greater with smaller shear connector spacing.
They also concluded that the performance of the strengthened beam with higher volume
fraction of reinforcement in ferrocement laminate was slightly better than the one with
lower volume fraction. It has also been found that pre-cracked beams prior to repair did not
affect the ultimate load capacities of the strengthened beams.

The shear behavior of ferrocement thin webbed sections had been studied by Ahmad,
Lodi and Qureshi [5] whereby they studied the shear behavior of ferrocement channel
beams by conducting tests under transverse loads for 15 beam specimens. The dominant
parameters which are the shear span to depth ratio, a/h, the volume fraction of the
reinforcement and the strength of mortar, were varied to determine its effect on the
cracking shear strength. Results from their studies showed that the cracking and ultimate
shear strength of ferrocement channel beams increases as the shear span to depth ratio
decreases and/or the amount of wire mesh or mortar strength increases. The crack initiation
and failure mechanism of the ferrocement beams were greatly influenced by the shear span
to depth ratio. They observed that at shear span to depth ratio less than 2.0, first cracking
usually occurs near the mid depth of the section; whereas bottom fibre flexural cracks
appear first at higher shear span to depth ratios.

Kazemi and Morshed [6] performed an experimental study to strengthen shear
deficient short concrete columns using ferrocement jacket reinforced with expanded steel
meshes. Ferrocement was found to be good for crack control purposes. Concrete
specimens that were strengthened with expanded meshes showed distributed fine shear
cracking even at the large amounts of displacement ductility capability. They also
concluded that a small amount of expanded meshes is sufficient to increase the shear
strength considerably but a larger steel volume was needed to attain a good amount of
ductility. According to their finding, ties were not as effective as expanded meshes in shear
strengthening of concrete columns.

The flexural behaviour of reinforced concrete slabs with ferrocement tension zone
cover had been investigated by Al-Kubaisy and Jumaat [7]. Their research proves that
reinforced concrete slabs with ferrocement tension zone cover are superior in crack
control, stiffness and first crack moment compared to similar slabs with normal concrete
cover. Deflection near serviceability limit was significantly reduced in specimens with
ferrocement cover.

Beams rehabilitated with ferrocement jackets show better performance in terms of

ultimate strength, first crack load, crack width, ductility and rigidity of the section. It was
observed that the cracking and ultimate strength increases by 10 percent and 40 percent in
case of rehabilitated beams, whereas these increases were 10-30 percent and 40-50 percent
in case of composite sections. The jacketing increases the rigidity of the beams and lead to
37 percent and 29 percent reduction in deflection. The crack width of the composite beams
and rehabilitated beams decreases on an average by 42 percent and 36 percent respectively
[Kaushik, S.K. and Dubey, A.K., 1994].

The addition of thin layer of ferrocement to a concrete beam enhances its ductility
and cracking strength. Composite beams reinforced with square mesh exhibit better overall
performance compared to composite beams reinforced with hexagonal mesh. An increase
in the number of layers improves the cracking stiffness of the composite beams in both
cases. [Nassif, H.H et al, 1998, Vidivelli, B. et al, 2001, Nasif, N.H. et al 2004].

A ferrocement shell improves the flexural behaviour of RCC beams, although there
is no increase in the moment carrying capacity of under reinforced beams. However, the
moment carrying capacity increased by 9 per cent and 15 per cent for balanced and over
reinforced sections respectively [Seshu, D.R., 2000].

The ultimate strength of the reinforced concrete beams, which failed due to
overloading and were repaired using ferrocement laminate, is affected by the level of
damage sustained prior to repairing. However, ultimate strength ductility ratio and energy
absorption have been reported to improve after the repair in all cases. The steel ratio used
in the repair layer has a great influence on the amount of gain in the resisting moment,
ductility ratio and energy absorption. The higher the steel ratio the higher the gain in
resisting moment and energy absorption; conversely, the ductility ratio was found to be
decreased with increase in steel ratio [Fahmy, Ezzat H. et al, 1997].

Paramasivam, P. et al (1994) studied the flexural behavior of reinforced concrete T-beams

strengthened with thin ferrocement laminate attached to the tension face using L-shaped
mild steel round bars as shear connectors. From the experimental investigation it was
concluded that after strengthening the performance of the beam improved substantially in
terms of strength and the surface to receive the laminate roughened to ensure sufficient
bond strength for composite action.

Thus, ferrocement is a viable alternative material for repair and strengthening of reinforced
concrete structures. It has been accepted by the local building authority in Singapore for
use in upgrading and rehabilitation of structures. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency
(NDMA), Government of India, also accepted the use of ferrocement for this purpose.

Finite element method of modeling ferrocement strengthened beam has also been done
using ANSYS software to simulate the behavior of ferrocement beam. Elavenil and
Chandrasekar [8] did a research on this and has come to the conclusion that finite
element models represented by load-deflection plot at mid-span shows good agreement
with the experimental and theoretical results. The research also shows that load carrying
capacity as well as the ultimate load of ferrocement strengthened beam is higher than that
of the control beam. The mid-span deflection at any given loads is also lower than that of
control beam.

Research has shown that ferrocement is effective for strengthening purposes for
various types of reinforced concrete members such as beams, columns and slabs in terms
of increasing the flexural strength, crack control as well as deflection. Columns reinforced
with ferrocement jacket also had increased shear strength and higher ductibility.
Construction costs will be slightly higher with ferrocement cover but this is greatly offset
by the money spent on repairing damaged structure
caused by cracking or spalling of normal concrete cover. In addition to that, ferrocement
allows the existing conventional concrete material and practices to be used and thus, is
more practical as a strengthening material compared to others. The usages of ferrocement
and its advantages compared to a normally reinforced beam is an interesting topic for
further investigation. The short-term behavior, cracking load as well as cracking behavior
could be analyzed further to gain more understanding of the advantages of ferrocement.

As the material ferrocement was used for a long time in boat building and similar
allied structures rather than in structural applications, a rigorous engineering definition of
ferrocement was not followed. Within ACI Committee 549, a considerable discussion on
its definition evolved and it was agreed to group together various available definitions
from many sources to come up with a concise and accurate definition that may be
acceptable to the engineering profession. Some definitions considered by the committee
are presented here.

Bigg (1968) has discussed the problem of definition in detail. He pointed out that
according to the American Bureau of Shipping it is:

A thin, highly reinforced shell of concrete in which the steel reinforcement

is distributed widely throughout the concrete, so that the material under
stress acts approximately as a homogenous material. The strength properties
of the material are to be determined by testing a significant number of

Although at first glance, the above definition seems an acceptable one, it brought
about a number of questions on the words italicised therein, which may have different
meanings of ferrocement to different people. Bigg went on to discuss various aspects of
ferrocement, suggests various ways of defining it, such as a composite material and points
out how the available engineering approach for composites of fiber reinforced concrete
may be used to come up with a definition of ferrocement.

As a two-component composite, made up of reinforcement and mortar (matrix),

Bezukladov (1968) defined it in terms of the ratio of the surface area of reinforcement to
the volume of, the composite. In this manner, ferrocement is separated from the
conventional reinforced concrete. Somewhat arbitrarily, he assigned the specific surface
greater than 2cm2/cm3 to ferrocement which then behaves more or less as a homogenous
material. Less than 2cm2/cm3 is considered reinforced concrete.

Shah (1974) in discussing different materials of construction, defined ferrocement in

a manner similar to Bezukladov. He called it a composite made with mortar and a fine
diameter continuous mesh as reinforcement, with which has higher bond due to its smaller
size and a larger surface area per unit volume of mortar. Accordingly, this ratio may be as
mush as ten times that which is observed in conventional reinforced concrete; this results
in failure of ferrocement in tension by the actual breaking of wire mesh and a much higher
cracking strength in the matrix.

As a composite, certain characteristics of ferrocement may thus be summarised as

a. Since the wire mesh (reinforcement) is much stronger in tension compared to the
matrix (mortar), the role of the matrix is to properly hold the mesh in place, to give a
proper protection and to transfer stresses by means of adequate bond.

b. Compression strength of this composite is generally a function of the matrix

(mortar) compressive strength, while the tensile strength is a function of the mesh
content and its properties.

c. It follows from (b) above that the stress-strain relationship of ferrocement in tension
may show either a complete elastic behaviour (up to fracture of reinforcing mesh) or
some inelasticity depending upon the yielding properties of the mesh.

d. Since the properties of this composite are very much a function of orientation of the
reinforcement, the material is generally anisotropic and may be treated as such in the
theoretical analysis.

The above discussion indicates the variety of approaches that have been made in a
structural definition of ferrocement. It became apparent to the ACI Committee 549 that the
first task should be to define Ferrocement as a construction material. Accordingly, the
following definition was adopted:

"Ferrocement is a type of thin wall reinforced concrete commonly constructed of

hydraulic cement mortar reinforced closely spaced layers of continuous and relatively
small wire diameter mesh. Mesh may be made of metallic or other suitable materials."

The above definition implies that although ferrocement is a form of reinforced

concrete, it is also a composite material. Hence the basic concepts underlying the
behaviour and mechanics of composites materials should be applicable to ferrocement.


From various literatures being come across a clear idea has been obtained for
strengthening the flexural member using ferrocement which gives a higher load carrying
capacity to the structure.

The methodology worked out to achieve the above-mentioned objectives is followed as
shown in the flow chart below:

Literature review

Material collection

Material testing (Cement, FA, CA)

Mix design for M30 concrete

Test for fresh and hardened concrete

Casting of cubes and cylinders

Casting of ferrocement reinforced beam

Flexural testing of beams

Comparision of results and analysis


Fig 3.1 Methodology



Ferrocement can be divided into two main components: the matrix and the

4.1.1 Matrix
The matrix is a hydraulic cement binder, which may contain fine aggregates and
admixtures to control shrinkage and set time, and increase its corrosion resistance. The
binder is itself a composite material consisting of a hydrated cement paste and an inert
filler material.

4.1.2 Cement
The cement commonly used is Portland cement possibly blended with pozzolan.
The cement should comply with ASTM C 150-85a, ASTM C 595-85, or an equivalent
standard. The cement should be fresh, of uniform consistency and free of lumps and
foreign matter. It should be stored under dry conditions and for a short duration as
possible. Cement factors are normally higher in ferrocement than in reinforced concrete.

Mineral admixtures, such as fly ash, silica fumes or blast furnace slag may be used
to maintain a high volume fraction of fine filler material. Filler material is usually well-
graded sand and this classifies the binder material as a mortar. Since the matrix represents
approximately over 95% of the resulting ferrocement volume, its physical properties and
microstructure, which depend upon the chemical composition of the cement, the nature of
the inert filler, the water-cement ratio and the curing regime, have a great influence on the
final properties of the product.

The reaction of Portland cement and water results in formation of hardened cement
paste. The ranges of mix proportions recommended for common ferrocement applications
are sand-cement ratio by weight, 1.5 to 2.5, and water-cement ratio by weight, 0.35 to 0.5.

Fineness modulus of sand, water-cement ratio and sand-cement ratio should be determined
from trial batches to insure a mix that can infiltrate (encapsulate) the mesh and develop a
strong and dense matrix. Water reducing admixtures may be used to enhance mix

plasticity and retard initial set, as with conventional concretes. The behaviour of
mortar is similar to that of plain concrete. The major distinction is the size of the aggregate
used. In general a good quality mortar is stronger and more durable than good quality
concrete; however, their basic response to the environment is essentially the same.


SiO2 21.8
Al2O3 5.1
Fe2O3 3.9
CaO 64.8
MgO <1.7
Cl <0.03
SO3 <2.0
L.O.I <1.3
LnR <0.65
F.CaO <1.1
C3A <7.5
Total Alkali <0.7

Table 4.1: Chemical composition of cement

4.1.3 Fine Aggregates

Normal weight fine aggregate (sand) is the most common aggregate used in
ferrocement. It should be clean, hard, strong, and free of organic impurities and
deleterious substances and relatively free of silt and clay. It should be inert with respect to
other materials used and of suitable type with respect to strength, density, shrinkage and
durability of the mortar made with it. Grading of the sand is to be such that a mortar of
specified proportions is produced with a uniform distribution of the aggregate, which will
have a high density and good workability and which will work into position without
segregation and without use of a high water content. The fineness of the sand should be
such that 100% of it passes standard sieve No. 8. Table 2.1 gives some guideline on
desirable grading.

Sieve Size Percent Passing

No. 8 80-100

No. 16 50-85

No. 30 25-60

No. 50 10-30

No. 100 2-10

Table 4.2: Guideline on desirable sand grading

Those fractions from 4.75 mm to 150 micron are termed as fine aggregate. The fine
aggregate used for the concrete is natural river sand. Fine aggregates are used to make a
greater building strength between cement and coarse aggregate.

Table 4.3 properties of fine aggregate


1 Specific gravity 2.68
2 Fineness modulus 4.35
3 Water absorption 1%
4 Gradation Zone III

4.1.4 Admixture

Chemical admixtures used in ferrocement serve one of the following four purposes: water
reduction, which increases strength and reduces permeability; air entrainment, which
increases resistance to freezing and thawing; and suppression of reaction between
galvanised reinforcement and cement.

4.1.5 Reinforcement
The reinforcement of ferrocement is commonly in the form of layers of continuous
mesh fabricated from an assembly of continuous single strands filaments. Specific mesh
types include woven and welded mesh, expanded metal lath and perforated sheet products.
There is a wide variety in mesh dimensions, as well as in the amounts, sizes and properties
of the materials used.

4.1.6 Wire Mesh

Wire mesh is one of the essential components of ferrocement. Different types of
wire meshes are available almost everywhere. These generally consist of thin wires, either
woven or welded into a mesh, but the main requirement is that it must be easily handled
and, if necessary, flexible enough to be bent around sharp corners. The function of the
wire mesh and reinforcing rod in the first instance is to act as a lath providing the form and
to support the mortar in its green state. In the hardened state its function is to absorb the
tensile stresses on the structure, which the mortar on its own would not be able to
withstand. A structure is subjected to great deal of pounding, twisting and bending during
its lifetime resulting in cracks and fractures unless sufficient steel reinforcement is
introduced to absorb these stresses. The degree to which this fracturing of the structure is
reduced depends on the concentration and dimensions of the embedded reinforcement.
The mechanical behaviour of ferrocement is highly dependent upon the type, quantity,
orientation and strength properties of the mesh and reinforcing rod. Figure 2.1 shows the
common type of wire mesh used in ferrocement industry.

The ACI committee 549 on Ferrocement concluded that the definition of

ferrocement could not be limited to steel reinforcing only. The ACI definition of
ferrocement included the statement Mesh may be made of metallic material or other
suitable materials. This definition allows bamboo mesh and mesh made of other materials
to be used for ferrocement structures.

Figure 4.1: Mesh types commonly used in ferrocement.

4.1.7 Skeletal Steel

Skeletal steel as the name implied is generally used for making the
framework of the structure upon which layers of mesh are laid. Both the longitudinal and
transverse rods are evenly distributed and shaped to form. The rods are spaced as widely
as possible up to 300mm apart where they are not treated as a structural reinforcement and
are often considered to serve as spacer rods to the mesh reinforcements. In some cases
skeletal steel is spaced as near as 75mm centre-to-centre thus acting as a main reinforcing
component wire mesh in highly stressed structures, for example boat, barges, tubular
sections, and others.

Steel rods of different kinds are used in ferrocement construction. Their strength,
surface finish, protective coating and size affect their performance as reinforcing members
of the composite. In general, mild steel rods are used for both longitudinal and transverse
directions. In some cases high tensile rods and prestressed wires and strands are used.
Rod size varies from 4.20mm to 9.5mm whereas 6.35mm is the most common.
Ferrocement panels with longitudinal and transverse rods of this size are about 25mm. A
combination of different rod sizes can be used with smaller diameter rod in the transverse

4.1.8 Substitute Materials

Some of the substitute materials include bamboo mesh and bamboo skeletal
reinforcement. Chembi and Nimityongskul (1989) investigated the use of bamboo mesh to
replace steel wire mesh in ferrocement water tank. A bamboo cement tank of 6m3
capacities was constructed in 1983. The tank was kept alternatively full and empty of
water to simulate actual field condition and was monitored regularly. After 5 years, they
found that the tank has not shown structural defects. Bamboo reinforcement 0.3 m from
the top of the tank was investigated and found in good condition.

Meanwhile, Venkateshwarlu and Raj (1989) investigated the use of bamboo to
replace skeletal steel in ferrocement roofing elements. Slabs reinforced with bamboo strips
as skeletal reinforcement and chicken wire mesh were subjected to monotonically
increasing uniformly distributed load to study the load deflection behaviour and to
determine its serviceability limit (span/deflection). The investigation showed that by using
bamboo, the cost of roofing elements comes to about 50% of reinforced concrete and 70%
of ferrocement elements. The slabs can be prefabricated in the factory or can be produced
at the site manually. The serviceability limit was suggested as 150 and it was observed,
that at deflections up to 10mm, no cracking occurred. Hence, roofing elements can be
produced up to a maximum span of 1.5m and can be used in multiples to cover longer


4.2.1 Water

Water used in the mixing is to be fresh and free from any organic and harmful
solution, which will lead to deterioration in the properties of the mortar. Salt water is not
acceptable but chlorinated drinking water can be used. Potable water is fit for use as
mixing water as well as for curing ferrocement structures.

4.2.2 Coating

In general, ferrocement structures need no protection unless they are subjected to

strong chemical attack that might damage the structural integrity of their components. A
plastered surface can take a good paint coating. In terrestrial structures, ordinary paint is
applied on the surface to enhance the appearance. Marine structures need protection
against corrosion and vinyl and epoxy coatings were found to be the most successful
organic coatings.


Ferrocement, often regarded as just another form of reinforced concrete, is quite

unique with respect to material behaviour and suitability for structural applications.
Ferrocement possesses a degree of toughness, ductility, durability, strength and crack
resistance that it is considerably greater than that found in other forms of concrete
construction. These properties are achieved in structures with a thickness that is generally
less than 25mm, a dimension that is nearly unthinkable in other forms of concrete
construction, and a clear improvement over conventional reinforced concrete. Some of the
properties of ferrocement such as tension, compression, flexure, shear, fatigue, impact and
fire resistance, durability, corrosion, and water retaining capacity had been investigated
and are listed as below.

4.3 .1 Tensile Behaviour

Unlike reinforced concrete, tensile behaviour of ferrocement is considerably

different. This is mainly because the reinforcement is spaced closer and uniformly than in
reinforced concrete and its smaller diameter results in a larger specific surface area. This
in turn affects cracking behaviour (finer and more number of cracks) in ferrocement.

Naaman and Shahs (1974) work indicated that the stress level at which the first
crack appeared and the crack spacing were a function of the specific surface of
reinforcement. The ultimate load of the ferrocement specimen was the same as the load
carrying capacity of the reinforcement in that direction. This should be expected since the
load is carried by the reinforcement itself after the mortar is cracked.

Al-Noury and Huq (1988) had proposed expressions for predicting the first crack
strength and modulus of elasticity of ferrocement in the uncracked and cracked range. It
was found that the first crack strength of ferrocement in tension might be predicted on the
basis of the strain at the limit of proportionality of mortar and the uncracked modulus of
ferrocement. The modulus of elasticity of ferrocement in the cracked range could be
predicted on the basis of the behaviour of an equivalent composite model aligned wires.
Beyond first crack, the crack formation mechanism in ferrocement in the cracked range is
related to the matrix-wire interfacial bond.

4.3.2 Compression Strength

The high compressive strength of mortar contributes primarily to the compressive

strength of the ferrocement composite. Although the reinforcement may have some
influence on the compressive strength, but this is limited to certain types of reinforcement.
For example, the use of welded wire mesh would increase compressive strength due to the
lateral restraint provided by the welded transverse wires, while the hexagonal mesh or
expanded metal may weaken the composite due to longitudinal splitting.

Kameswara Rao and Kamasundra (1986) investigated the stress-strain curve and
Poissons ratio of ferrocement in axial compression. It was found that the specific surface
is the only factor, which controls the behaviour of ferrocement in axial compression.
Equations developed for predicting the increase in strength, strain and modulus of
elasticity by regression analysis were used to generate the stress-strain curve of
ferrocement under axial compression. They have found that ferrocement behaves linearly
up to 50-60% of the ultimate strength in compression; beyond this limit the behaviour
becomes non-linear. The value of ultimate strength, strain at ultimate strength and
Youngs modulus increase with increasing of specific surface area.

4.3.3 Flexural Strength

In some application, ferrocement may be subjected to flexural stress. In such cases,

one must consider the method and manner in which its behaviour in flexure may be
predicted. Needless to say that compared an average reinforced concrete beam (which is
generally under-reinforced), the ferrocement beams due to several layers of wire mesh tend
to be over reinforced. It is therefore important to insure that indeed ferrocement will not
fail similarly to an over-reinforced concrete beam. Analytical and experimental
evaluations were reported by Johnston and Mowat (1974), Logan and Shah (1973),
Balaguru et al (1976) and Pama et al (1978).

Mansur and Paramasivam (1986) proposed a method to predict the ultimate strength
of ferrocement in flexure based on the concept of plastic analysis where ferrocement is
considered as a homogenous perfectly elastic-plastic material. Simple equations are
derived for direct design of a cross-section. An experimental investigation was also
conducted to study the behaviour and strength of ferrocement in flexure. It was found that
the ultimate moment increase with increasing matrix grade (decreasing water cement ratio)
and increasing volume fraction of reinforcement.

4.3.4 Shear

Venkata Krishna and Basa Gouda (1988) performed testing on ferrocement beams
with different volume fraction of reinforcement in transverse shear. It was found that the
shear strength depends upon mortar, strength of wire mesh, volume fraction and shear
span. Theoretical expressions were developed for predicting the shear strength at first
crack and collapse of ferrocement beams with different type of wire meshes namely
hexagonal, woven and welded.

4.3.5 Fatigue Resistance

Fatigue strength plays an important role in restricting the use of ferrocement in

structures subjected to such a loading as in bridges. The fatigue strength of the wire, as
tested in air, is the primary factor affecting fatigue of the composite. Balaguru et al (1977)
investigated the flexural fatigue properties of ferrocement beams reinforced with square
woven and welded meshes. Their finding is the relationship between the stress range in the
outermost layer of steel mesh and the number of cycles to failure.

Singh et al. (1986) investigated the influence of the reinforcement on the fatigue
behaviour of ferrocement. They conducted fatigue tests on ferrocement slabs with
different types of mesh reinforcement, studying the effect of the size of wire, galvanising
of the wire and placing of wire mesh in layers to the fatigue strength of ferrocement.
Samples of the wires were also fatigue-tested in air and a relationship is developed
between the fatigue strength of each type in air and in the composite. It was found that the
fatigues of the wire in air and in ferrocement are related. Most fatigue failures occurred by
fracture of the wires and the range of repeated stress in the wires gave the greatest on the
fatigue strength of ferrocement.

4.3.6 Impact Resistance

Impact strength is a useful parameter in applications related to offshore structures

and boats. Reports attesting the favourable characteristics of ferrocement in collisions
involving boats with each other or with rocks are numerous. The main attributes include
resistance to disintegration, localisation of damage, and ease of repair. However, due to
experimental complexity associated with measurement of impact resistance, little
quantitative or comparative data exist.

Impact strength was defined as the energy absorbed by the specimens when struck
by a swinging pendulum dropped from a constant height. The damage was measured by
the relative flow of water through the specimen surface for a fixed energy absorbed which
is 600lb-in (66.7kN-mm).

Shah and Key (1972) tested 9in2 (5625mm2) and in (12mm) thick ferrocement
slabs using an impact tester. From the test, it indicated that the higher the specific surface
of the meshes and the higher the strength of the mesh, the lower the damage due to impact

4.3.7 Fire Resistance

A problem unique to ferrocement is potentially poor fire resistance because of the

inherent thinness of its structural form and the abnormally low cover given to the

Basanbul et al. (1989) studied the fire resistance of ferrocement load bearing
sandwich panels. The fire resistance of the ferrocement wall was found to be encouraging
for designers of ferrocement buildings. Though the thin shell nature of ferrocement has
raised questions about its fire resistance, it was found that ferrocement retains much of the
load bearing qualities of reinforced concrete. Its heat transmission qualities are not as
good as those of reinforced concrete, which would be just under four hours, but this latter
consideration is more dependent on the mass of the wall. Limited problems of spalling of
the front face sheets occurred during the early portion of the test but this spalling was not
severe enough to cause serious structural damage during the period in which the wall
satisfied the ASTM E-119 performance criteria.

4.3.8 Durability

When ferrocement is exposed to aggressive environment, its successful performance

depends to a great extent on its durability against the environment than on its strength
properties. The external causes may be physical, chemical or mechanical. They may be
due to weathering, occurrence of extreme temperatures, abrasion, electrolytic action, and
attack by natural and industrial liquids and gases. The extent of damage produced by these
agents depends largely on the quality of the mortar, although under extreme conditions any
unprotected mortar will deteriorate. The internal causes are alkali-aggregate reaction,
volume changes due to the differences in thermal properties of aggregate and cement paste,

and above all the permeability of mortar. The permeability of mortar largely determines
the vulnerability of the mortar to external agencies, so that in order to be durable the
mortar must be relatively impervious.

Although the measures required to insure durability in reinforced concrete also

apply to ferrocement, three other factors which affect durability are unique to ferrocement.
First, the cover is small and consequently it is relatively easy for corrosive liquids to reach
the reinforcement. Second, the surface area of the reinforcement is unusually high, so the
area of contact over which corrosion reactions can take place, and the resulting rate of
corrosion, are potentially high. Third, although many forms of reinforcement used in
ferrocement are galvanized to prevent corrosion, the zinc coating can have certain adverse
effects bubble generation. All three factors have varying importance depending on the
nature of the exposure condition. However, in spite of these unique effects, there is no
report of serious corrosion of ferrocement not associated with poor plastering or poor
matrix compaction. To insure adequate durability in most applications, a fully compacted
matrix is necessary. A protective coating may also be desirable.

4.3. 9 Corrosion

Corrosion is the deterioration of metals or alloy due to interaction with its

surroundings. The most common example of corrosion is the rusting of steel. Corrosion is
normally a fairly slow but complex process; however, due to presence of certain
conditions, it may occur very rapidly. Many of these can occur in ferrocement and
avoiding them is one of the biggest problems. All ferrocement marine structures, by virtue
of their marine environment are liable to corrosion attack. The danger of corrosion is
enhanced in ferrocement by the extreme thinness of the cover of mortar over the steel
reinforcement. The corrosion process is often difficult to recognise until extensive
deterioration has occurred. The severity of the attack on structure will depend basically on
how well it has been designed and built, the materials used and what happens to it when in
and out of use.

4.3.10 Water (or Liquid) Retaining Capacity

Another special property to be noted is that of water retention when application of

ferrocement is considered in liquid storage tanks. The important aspect here is small crack
widths so that leakage may be minimal. Shah and Naaman (1977) indicated that crack
widths in ferrocement for the same steel stress are smaller than in reinforced concrete by
order of magnitude. This making it a better choice on material for water retaining
structures. Tests were conducted on cylindrical vessels with internal water pressure to
investigate this impact. The results showed that the crack width in ferrocement is much
smaller than allowable. Naaman and Sabins (1978) also provided some recommendations
on using ferrocement for water tanks.


Ferrocement construction unlike other sophisticated engineering construction

requires minimum of skilled labour, utilises readily available materials and most of the
tools for construction are intended for conventional concrete construction. The skills for
ferrocement construction techniques are easily acquired and requisite quality control can
be achieved using fairly unskilled labour for the fabrication under the supervision of a
skilled foreman.

There are several means of producing ferrocement. All methods require high-level
quality control criteria to achieve the complete encapsulation of several layers of
reinforcing mesh by a well-compacted mortar of concrete matrix with a minimum of
entrapped air. The most appropriate fabrication technique depends on the nature of the
particular ferrocement application; the availability of mixing, handling and placing
machinery; and skill and cost of available labour.

The four major steps in ferrocement construction are:

Placement of wire mesh in proper position,

Mortar mixing,

Mortar application, and


The objective of all construction methods is to thoroughly encapsulate a layered

mesh system with a plastic Portland cement matrix. The mortar must be thoroughly
compacted during placing to ensure the absence of voids around reinforcement and in the
corners of any framework. Ferrocement structures are to be properly cured once the
mortar has taken its first set (which occur 3 to 4 hours after mortar application). The set
mortar or concrete is to be kept wet for a period dependent on the type of cement used and
the ambient conditions.


4.5.1 Housing Applications

Ferrocement has found widespread applications in housing particularly in roofs,

floors, slabs and walls. Ferrocement is considered as a suitable housing technology for
developing countries attested by the increasing number of easily built and comfortable
ferrocement houses. Ferrocement houses utilising local materials such as wood, bamboo
or bush sticks as equivalent steel replacement have been constructed in Bangladesh,
Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Precast ferrocement elements have been used in India, the Philippines, Malaysia,
Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Venezuela and the Pacific for roofs, wall panels and fences. In
Sri Lanka, a ferrocement house resistant to cyclones has also been developed and

constructed. A pyramidal dome over a temple in India and numerous spherical domes for
mosques in Indonesia have been constructed with ferrocement. The choice was dictated by
low self-weight, avoidance of formwork and availability of unskilled labour.

4.5.2 Marine Applications

Ferrocement has been adapted to traditional boat designs in Bangladesh, China,

India, Indonesia and Thailand due to timber shortages. In China, 600 ferrocement boat-
manufacturing units produce annual capacity of 600,000 to 700,000 tonnages.
Ferrocement boats are divided into four categories according to usage: farming boats,
fishing boats, transport boats and working boats.

In countries like Hong Kong, Korea, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and
Thailand, ferrocement boats generally conform to western standards. In Hong Kong, India
and Sri Lanka, most of the ferrocement crafts constructed are used as mechanised fishing
trawlers while in Korea, as fishing boats. In addition, the Southeast Asian Fisheries
Development Centre, Philippines, has used ferrocement tanks for prawn brood stock and
ferrocement buoys for a floatation system in the culture of green mussels. This is the first
large-scale use of ferrocement for these purposes.

In Africa, ferrocement boatyards have been successfully established in Kenya,

Sudan and Malawi. The boatyards are now self-supporting under the management of local
staff trained by the consultants. The objective of these boatyards is to provide rural
fisherman opportunities to explore the fishable grounds to increase their income.

4.5.3 Agriculture Applications

Agriculture provides the necessary resource for economic growth in developing

countries. The use of ferrocement technology can contribute towards solving some of the
production and storage problems of agricultural produce. Ferrocement has been used for
grain storage bins in Thailand, India and Bangladesh to reduce losses from attack by birds,
insects, rodents and moulds.

Thailo, a conical ferrocement bin; was designed and first constructed at the Asian
Institute of Technology (AIT), Bangkok, Thailand. Storage capacities range from 1 to 10
tons. This bin has proved to be structurally sound and construction has provided adequate
protection to the produce against rodent, insect and bird attacks. The bin costs well within
the means of the farmers. Besides, this type of silo also can hold up to 5000 gallons
(22.7m3) of drinking water.

In Ethiopia, underground pits are the traditional method of grain storage. It has
been found that when the traditional pit is lined with ferrocement and provided with an
improved airtight lid, a hermetic and waterproof storage chamber can be achieved.

4.5.4 Water and Sanitation Applications

Ferrocement can be effectively used for various water supply structures like well
casings for shallow wells, water tanks, sedimentation tanks, slow sand filters and for
sanitation facilities like septic tanks, service modules and sanitary bowls. Some findings
indicated that ferrocement tanks are less expensive than steel or fibreglass tanks.

The reasons why ferrocement is cheaper are:

Ferrocement is an feasible material for the construction of water storage

Flexibility of shape, freedom from corrosion, possibility of hot storage, relative lack of
maintenance, and ductile mode of failure are important advantages of ferrocement
over other materials

Ferrocement tanks require less energy to produce than steel tanks.

Ferrocement water tanks of 20 to 2000 gallons (0.09 to 9m3) capacity are mass-
produced in India. Bamboo-cement well casings have been built in Indonesia to prevent
contamination of the water.



Two concrete beams of Grade 30 were cast for the experimental testing carried out in
the laboratory. One beam is strengthened with ferrocement on its soffit while the other
beam is without ferrocement which act as a control beam. The beam were measured 1500
mm in length with cross section of size 150 mm150 mm. Both the beams were cast using
the same reinforcement which is 2 bar of 10 mm diameter for top and bottom steel
reinforcement. The shear reinforcements were of 6 mm diameter bars spaced at 150mm
center to center. In ferrocement laminate, square wire mesh with 1 mm diameter and
spacing of 14 mm was used.


Normal weight concrete designed to achieve compressive strength of 30 N/mm2 after

28-days was used. Ordinary Portland cement, sand and coarse aggregate of maximum size
20mm were mixed in the proportion 1:1:2.5 by weight with a water to cement ratio of 0.45.
Slumps of 65 mm were recorded prior to casting. Steel reinforcements which were selected
for tension and compression reinforcement was 10mm diameter bars with characteristic
strength of 460 N/mm2. For shear reinforcement, steel bars of 6 mm diameters with
characteristic strength of 250 N/mm2 were used.

For the beam strengthened with ferrocement, 5 L-shaped bars of 6-mm diameter were
used as shear connector. For the strengthening mortar, cement and sand were mixed in the
proportion of 1:2 by weight and water to cement ratio of 0.4 which gives compressive
strength of 30 N/mm2 after 28-days.


During casting of the beam to be strengthened by ferrocement, the soffit of the beam is
cast in such a way that it is rough and the aggregates were exposed as shown in Figure 1.
The purpose of providing this rough layer is to ensure a better bonding between the
original concrete beam and the ferrocement layer when mortar is applied.


To form the ferrocement beam, 3 layers of square wire mesh of 14-mm opening were
attached to the soffit of the beam. Five L-shaped shear connector were used to secure the
wire mesh from peeling off during testing. Mortar is placed through hand plastering
whereby mortar is forced through the mesh. Surfaces are finished to about 30mm to assure
proper cover to the last layer of wire mesh and leave to dry for about 1 week before it
undergo flexural testing (Figure 2).

Figure 5.1: Experimental set-up. Figure 5.2: Cross section A-A


All the beams were tested under 2-point loading over a span of 1400mm and also
instrumented for the measurement of mid-span deflections. Figure 3 and figure 4shows the
loading point on the beam and the cross-section of ferrocement beam respectively. Loading
is applied until the beam collapsed and the ultimate load is then noted. The ultimate load
capacity and mid-span deflection of the ferrocement strengthened beam is then compared
with that of a normal beam.

Linear displacement transducers were used to measure the mid-span deflection of the
beam. The deflection readings were recorded by a portable data logger. Before testing, it
was made sure that the transducer was touching the soffit of the test beams. During testing,
the load was applied by two hydraulic jacks attached to the pressure gauge. The pressure
gauge records the applied load in unit bar or psi and based on past experiments, 1 unit bar
of pressure from the meter corresponds to 0.31 kN. Cracks were visually detected using a
magnifying glass and its propagation was traced and the corresponding loads were
recorded on the surface of the beam.

All the beams were tested with concentrated load applied in 10 bar (3.1 kN) for the
first time and 5 bar (1.55 kN) subsequently. The developments of crack were traced using a
marker and the first crack loads were also recorded. For every load increments, the
corresponding deflections were printed out from the data logger. Loading continued until
the cracking on the beam were severe enough. Cracks started at the soffit of the beam and
moved vertically as more load is applied. Loading is applied incrementally and stop once
the cracks has passed the neutral axis of the beam.







0 1 2 3 4 5 WORKPLAN












0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16



7.1 Summary of Phase 1

From the study of various literatures it is concluded that this research work is to cast
the beam using ferrocement and study its behaviors accordingly. Initial collection of
materials such as cement, fine aggregate and coarse aggregate have been conducted.

7.2 Future Plan

Planned to conduct test on composite beams and compare the results with the control
beam. The ultimate flexural strength, compression test and the split tensile strength of the
cube, cylinder and beam are yet to be studied.


[1] ACI Committee 549 report, Guide for the Design, Construction and Repair of
Ferrocement, ACI 549.1R-93, 1993

[2] Paramasivam, P., Lim, C. T. E. and Ong, K. C. G., 1997. Strengthening of RC Beams
with Ferrocement Laminates, Cement and Concrete Composites, 20:53-65
[3] Nassif, H. H. and Najm, H., 2003. Experimental and analytical investigation of
ferrocement-concrete composite beams, Cement & Concrete Composites, 26:787-796

[4] Jumaat, M. Z. and Alam, M. A. 2006. Flexural Strengthening of Reinforced Concrete

Beams Using Ferrocement Laminate with Skeletal Bars, Journal of Applied Sciences
Research, 2(9):559-566

[5] Ahmad, S. F., Lodi, S. H. and Qureshi, J. 1995. Shear behaviour of ferrocement thin
webbed sections, Cement and Concrete Research, 25(5):969-979

[6] Kazemi, M. T. and Morshed, R., 2005. Seismic shear strengthening or R/C columns
with ferrocement jacket, Cement and Concrete Composites, 27:834-842

[7] Al-Kubaisy, M. A. and Jumaat, M. Z., 2000. Flexural behaviour of reinforced concrete
slabs with ferrocement tension zone cover, Construction and Building Materials,

[8] Elavenil, S. and Chandrasekar, V., 2007, Analysis of Reinforced Concrete Beams
Strengthened with Ferrocement, International Journal of Applied Engineering
Research, Volume 2, Number 3, pp. 431-440.

[9] Zealakshmi D, Ravichandran A, Kothandaraman Flexural behavior of confined

hybrid fibre in the plastic hinging region of the high strength concrete beams.Indian
Journal of Science and Technology. 2016 Mar;9(9):15.

[10] Mayas C, Barnes A. Ferro cement permanent formwork as protection to reinforced

concrete. Journal of Ferro Cement.1995; 25(4):33145

[11] Johnston D, Sidramappa N. Ferro cement - Material behavior in flexural. Journal of

Structural Division. 1974;100(10):205369.

[12] Abdullah A, Takiguchi K. an investigation into the behavior and strength of
reinforced concrete columns strengthened with ferro cement jackets. Cement and
Concrete Composite. 2003 Feb; 25(2):23342.

[13] Sujatha A. Case study of ferro cement coating technique on masonry walls.
Indian Journal of Science and Technology. 2014 Jun; 7(S5):11.

[14] Nassif H, Najam H. Experimental and analytical inves- tigation of ferro cement
Concrete Composite Beams. Cement and Concrete Composite. 2004 Oct; 26(7)

[15] Johnston D, Sidramappa N. Ferro cement - Material behavior in tension and

flexural. Journal of Structural Division.1976: 87589.

[16] Kazemi T, Morshed R. Seismic shear strengthening of RC columns with ferro

cement jacket. Cement and Concrete Composite. 2005 Aug-Sep; 27(7-8):83442.

[17] Priyadharshini E, An experimental study on strengthening of reinforced concrete

beam using glass fiber reinforced polymer composites. I J S and Technology. 2016
Jan; 9(2):14.