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Concrete Design

for the Civil PE and Structural SE Exams

Second Edition

C. Dale Buckner, PhD, PE, SECB

Professional Publications, Inc. • Belmont, California

Flexural Design of
Reinforced Concrete Beams
Flexural members are slender members that deform pri- b c 
0.003 0.85f c
marily by bending moments caused by concentrated
couples or transverse forces. In modern construction actual
c stress
these members may be joists, beams, girders, spandrels, distribution
lintels, and other specially named elements. But their
d axis
behavior in every case is essentially the same. Unless
otherwise specified in a problem, flexural members will
be referred to as beams throughout this book.
In the following sections, the ACI 318 provisions for
the strength, ductility, serviceability, and constructabil- s fy As
ity of beams are summarized and illustrated. As
section strain stress

Figure 3.1 Notation for Moment Strength of a Singly

1. Strength Reinforced Rectangular Beam
The basic strength requirement for flexural design is
ACI Secs. 10.2 and 10.3 give the principles governing
Mu ≤ φMn 3.1 the flexural strength.
• Strain varies linearly through the depth of the
Mn is the nominal moment strength of the member, Mu member.
is the bending moment caused by the factored loads, • A complete bond exists between the steel and the
and φ is the capacity reduction factor. For most practi- concrete; that is, the strain in the steel is the same
cal designs, ACI specifies the value of φ as 0.9; however, as in the adjacent concrete.
special cases exist for which lower values apply, as ex- • Tension stress in the concrete is negligible (that
plained in Sec. 2 of this chapter. is, all tension is resisted by steel).
• The ultimate strain in concrete is 0.003.
A. Mn for a Singly Reinforced Concrete Beam • In a properly designed beam, the tension steel
The simplest case is that of a rectangular beam con- yields; thus, T = As fy .
taining steel in the tension zone only. A beam of this • The concrete stress distribution may be replaced
sort is referred to as singly reinforced. Figure 3.1 shows by an equivalent rectangular distribution with uni-
a typical cross section of a singly reinforced beam and form stress 0.85fc acting over an area ba and cre-
the notation used. ating a compression resultant, C = 0.85fc ba, that
a = equivalent depth of compression zone acts at distance a/2 from the compression edge.
As = total area of steel in tension zone For bending without axial force applied, equilibrium
b = width of compression edge requires
c = distance from compression edge to neutral axis 
d = effective depth, distance from compression edge Fhorizontal = C − T = 0 lbf 3.2
to centroid of tension steel
fc = specified compressive strength of concrete 0.85fc ba = As fy 3.3

fy = yield stress of tension steel As fy

a= 3.4
h = overall depth of beam 0.85fc b

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12 Concrete Design for the Civil PE and Structural SE Exams

The resultant compression force in the concrete, C, For a uniformly loaded cantilevered beam,
forms a couple with the resultant tension force, T . wu L2
Mu =
Mn = T d − 3.5
2 L is the span length in feet and wu is the factored
 a uniformly distributed load in kips per foot. Using the
Mn = As fy d − 3.6
2 strength requirement (Eq. 3.1) and solving for wu gives
wu L2
Example 3.1 = φMn
Singly Reinforced Beam Analysis 2φMn
wu =
A cantilevered singly reinforced beam is subjected to a L2
service dead load of 1.5 kip/ft, which includes the self- (2)(267 ft-kip)
weight of the beam. The beam is reinforced with three = 2
(9.5 ft)
no. 9 bars, and the yield stress of the tension steel is
60,000 psi. The beam’s span is 9.5 ft, and its capacity = 5.92 kip/ft
reduction factor is 0.9. The width of the beam’s com- In terms of the service loads,
pression edge is 16 in, and the beam’s effective depth
wu = 1.2wd + 1.6wl
is 22 in. The concrete’s specified compressive strength  
is 3000 psi. Determine the maximum uniformly dis- kip
= (1.2) 1.5 + 1.6wl
tributed service live load that the beam can support ft
based on its flexural strength. = 5.92 kip/ft

Solution: wl = 2.58 kip/ft

From Table 1.1, the cross-sectional area of one no. 9 bar
is B. Beams with Irregular Cross Sections
Ab = 1.00 in2 Many reinforced concrete beams have cross sections
The total cross-sectional area of the steel is that are not rectangular. Figure 3.2 shows three typ-
ical cross sections with irregularly shaped compression
As = nbars Ab = (3)(1.00 in2 ) regions.
= 3.00 in2 Fortunately, the same principles that govern the be-
havior of rectangular beams apply more generally to
From Eq. 3.4, the equivalent depth of the compression these cases as well. In the absence of axial forces, in a
zone is properly designed beam (that is, a beam for which ten-
As fy sion steel yields) the compression region is determined
0.85fc b using the condition of equilibrium.
(3.00 in2 ) 60,000 2 C=T
=   0.85fc Ac = As fy 3.7
(0.85) 3000 2 (16 in) As fy
in Ac = 3.8
= 4.41 in 0.85fc
Geometric relationships determine the depth of com-
From Eq. 3.6,
pression region and a summation of moments gives the
 a nominal moment strength of the section.
φMn = φAs fy d −
= (0.9)(3.00 in2 ) 60,000 2
4.41 in
× 22 in −
= 3,207,000 in-lbf

Converting to foot-kips,
T-beam inverted T beam with duct
3,207,000 in-lbf
φMn =    = 267 ft-kip
in lbf Figure 3.2 Representative Cross Sections of
12 1000
ft kip Irregular Reinforced Concrete Beams

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3 Flexural Design of Reinforced Concrete Beams 13

For most cast-in-place floor systems, the slab and Solution:

beams are cast monolithically and the slab functions The equivalent area of the compression zone can be
as the flange of a T- or L-shaped beam, as shown in found from Eq. 3.8.
Fig. 3.3. ACI Sec. 8.12 limits the effective flange width,
be , of such members by the following criteria. As fy
Ac =
Slab Extending Both Sides (T-Beam) kip
(4.68 in2 ) 60 2
⎧ = 

⎪ L/4 kip
⎨ (0.85) 4 2
be,int ≤ bw + 16hs 3.9 in

⎩ bw + s1 + s2 = 82.6 in2
Because the equivalent area of the compression zone
exceeds the areas in the rectangular regions to the left
Slab Extending One Side Only (L-Beam) and right of the trough, the compression zone extends
⎧ L
to some depth below the bottom of the trough. This

⎪ bw + depth is

⎨ 12
be,ext ≤ bw + 6hs 3.10 Ac − 2b1 h1

⎪ a2 =

⎩ b + s1 bw
2 82.6 in2 − (2)(4 in)(5 in)
L is the span. Other symbols are as defined in Fig. 3.3. 14 in
= 3.04 in
be,ext be,int hs
The equivalent compression force can be expressed in
terms of a component acting in the rectangular regions
adjacent to the trough, C1 , and a component acting
over the region below the trough, C2 .

bw s1 bw s2 C1 = 2(0.85fc b1 h1 )
Figure 3.3 Effective Widths of T-Beams and L-Beams = (2)(0.85) 4 2 (4 in)(5 in)
= 136 kip
C2 = 0.85fc bw a2
Example 3.2 kip
= (0.85) 4 2 (14 in)(3.04 in)
Analysis of an Irregularly Shaped Beam in
Calculate the design moment strength of the section = 145 kip
shown. The compressive strength of the concrete is
4000 psi, and the yield stress of the reinforcement is Taking moments of the two forces about the line of
60,000 psi. action of the tension force gives the design moment
strength of the section.
4 in 6 in 4 in
C1 φMn = φ C1 d − + C2 d − h1 −
2.5 in 2 2
5 in ⎛   ⎞
5 in
⎜ (136 kip) 30 in − 2 ⎟
C2 ⎜ ⎟
30 in a2 = (0.9) ⎜  ⎟
2 ⎝ 3.04 in ⎠
+ (145 kip) 30 in − 5 in −
1 ft
= (6430 in-kip)
T 12 in
As  4.68 in2 = 536 ft-kip

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14 Concrete Design for the Civil PE and Structural SE Exams

2. Ductility Criteria 16 in c 
0.003 0.85f c
ACI Secs. 10.3.5 and 10.5 limit both the minimum and actual
a stress
maximum amount of tension steel that is acceptable in c
a beam. The minimum limit ensures that the flexural neutral
d  dt axis
strength of the reinforced beam is appropriately larger  24 in
than that of the gross section when it cracks. This
⎪ 200

⎪ bw d s 
⎨ fy fy As
As,min ≥     As 0.005

⎪ 3 fc

⎩ b w d (not to scale)
The code makes an exception to this requirement for
slabs and footings, which require minimum tempera- From Eq. 3.11, the minimum steel is
ture and shrinkage steel, and for special cases in which ⎧ 
the amount of steel provided in a flexural member is at ⎪ 200

⎪ bw d
least one-third greater at every point than required by ⎪
⎪ fy

analysis. For cantilevered T-beams with the flange in ⎪
⎪ ⎛ lbf ⎞

⎪ ⎜
tension, the value of bw used in the expressions is the ⎪
⎪ =⎝ in2 ⎟
⎪ lbf ⎠
smaller of either the flange width or twice the actual ⎪ (16 in)(24 in)

web width. ⎪
⎪ 60,000

⎪ in2

The maximum limit on the amount of tension steel ⎪

= 1.28 in [controls]
ensures that the steel yields well before the concrete   
As,min ≥ 3 fc
crushes, so that the beam fails in a gradual, ductile ⎪

⎪ bw d
manner and not a sudden, brittle manner. This pro- ⎪
⎪ fy

vides warning in the event of failure. ACI Sec. 10.3.5 ⎪
⎪ ⎛  ⎞

⎪ lbf
limits the strain in the extreme tension reinforcement at ⎪
⎪ 3 4000

⎪ ⎜ in2 ⎟
the nominal strength. For sections subject to bending ⎪

⎪ =⎜⎝
⎟ (16 in)(24 in)

⎪ lbf ⎠
with negligible axial force (axial force less than 0.1fc Ag ), ⎪
⎪ 60,000

⎪ in2
the strain in the extreme tension steel must exceed 0.004 ⎪

(that is, approximately twice its yield strain) when the = 1.21 in2
extreme compression edge of the member reaches the
ultimate concrete strain of 0.003. The maximum steel for which a φ-factor of 0.9 is ap-
However, the code imposes a capacity reduction fac- plicable corresponds to the quantity of steel that makes
tor of 0.65 when the strain in the tension steel equals the depth to the neutral axis small enough that the
0.002. The capacity reduction factor increases linearly strain at the extreme steel is exactly 0.005 when con-
to a maximum value of 0.9 as the tension strain in- crete strain reaches 0.003. As shown in the illustration,
creases from 0.002 to 0.005. There is rarely a practi- using similar triangles gives
cal advantage to designing beams for which the tension
strain is less than 0.005, so this limit, which permits a c dt
capacity reduction factor of 0.9, will be used throughout 0.003 0.003 + 0.005
this book. 0.003dt
The following example illustrates the method of de- c= = 0.375dt
termining the minimum and maximum limits.
For the most common case, in which steel is in a single
layer, dt is equal to d. When the steel is in two or more
Example 3.3 layers, dt is taken as the distance from the compression
Maximum and Minimum Flexural Steel in a edge to the center of the steel in the extreme layer.
Rectangular Beam
For the section shown, calculate the minimum area of The maximum steel area is found by equating the ten-
tension steel and the maximum steel for which a capac- sion force to the compression force when c equals 0.375dt .
ity reduction factor of 0.9 is applicable. The compresson
strength of concrete is 4000 psi, and the yield stress of As,max fy = 0.85fc ba
the tension steel is 60,000 psi. = 0.85fc b(β1 c)

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