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Title no. 86-867

Strength and Behavior of Reinforced Concrete Obtuse Corners

under Opening Bending Moments

by Hashim M. S. Abdul-Wahab and Waleed M. Ali

Results of an experimental investigation of the strength and behavior steel contents up to I percent, in addition to stirrups.
of reinforced concrete obtuse corners under opening bending mo- From the results obtained, Nilsson suggested upper
ments are presented. Five of the thirteen 145 deg corner specimens
tested had different reinforcement details; in the rest of the speci-
limits on the main reinforcement ratio of p ~ 0.8 per-
mens the thickness or the length of one of the adjoining members was cent for a 90-deg corner and p ~ 0.65 percent for a
varied. From the observed crack and failure patterns and the ulti- 135-deg corner, and a steel strength.{y = 590 MPa (85.6
mate strengths, adding inclined bars to loops at the joints was found ksi).
to improve flexural efficiency greatly. The effect of varying the stiff- For continuous long joints that occur in structures
ness of the adjoining members significantly improved the efficiency
and resulted in a gradual change in the mode of failure.
such as in folded plates, bridge abutments at the junc-
Keywords: bending moments; corner joints; failure; flexural strength; rein-
tions between the front and wing walls, water tanks,
forced concrete; reinforcing steels; stiffness; strength. open channels, staircases, and retaining walls, a rela-
In the design of reinforced concrete structures, the tively small amount of flexural steel in the range just
greatest attention is given to calculating strength re- suggested is likely to be required. For these joints, sec-
quirements of the structural elements, i.e., beams, col- ondary reinforcement is rarely used and may cause
umns, and slabs. It is assumed usually that the joints congestion in thin members. Consideration of the stress
between such elements will perform satisfactorily using distribution in the joint indicates the need for inclined
one of the conventional arrangements of reinforce- bars (or splays) to take the tensile force that causes the
ment. 14 There is abundant research on the strength and initial crack at the inner angle of the corner. Also, some
behavior of these structural members. However, until form of confinement reinforcement or ties is needed to
recently, little attention was given to the testing and de- resist the secondary diagonal tension cracks that form
sign of joints. 1•3•5 It is recognized now that corners and in the upper triangular portion.L 2 •4 It has been sug-
joints are the weakest links in a structural system. gested that inclined reinforcement should be provided
Corners are divided into two types: those that resist at the same spacing as the main reinforcement. Half the
positive bending moments which tend to open the cor- area of the main reinforcement should be provided as
ner, and those that resist negative bending moments inclined bars, for a main steel ratio up to I percent and
which tend to close the corner. For closing corners, equal to the main steel for I to 1.5 percent. 4
tests have shown that reasonable details will perform The need for further experimental investigation on
acceptably, but for the opening joints with the same structural corners and joints is emphasized repeatedly in
details, the flexural efficiency can be less than 25 per- design manuals6·10 and literature. 24 In particular, there
cent.L6 The efficiency of corners and joints is usually is a need for experimental data on the behavior and ef-
defined as the ratio of failure moment of the corner or ficiency of corner joints other than 90-deg corners. The
joint to the capacity of adjoining members. 1•8 main purpose of the research work reported here was to
Most of the limited available experimental data deals study the behavior and strength of reinforced concrete
with the behavior and efficiency of knee joints (or I45-deg corners subjected to positive (opening) bending
right-angled corners) with various reinforcement de- moments. The main variables considered were the re-
tails. 2•5·'·9 In a notable and extensive testing program inforcement details, the effect of varying the thickness
carried out by Nilsson 9 in Sweden, some results have of one member, and the effect of varying the length of
also been reported on obtuse-angled I35-deg corners as ACI Structural Journal, V. 86, No.6, November-December 1989.
Rec~ived Aug. 17, 198~, and reviewed under Institute publication policies.
well as acute-angled 60-deg corners. Fourteen 135 deg Copynght © 1989, Amencan Concrete Institute. All rights reserved, including
corner specimens were tested under opening moments the making of copies unless permission is obtained from the copyright propie-
tors. Pertinent discussion will be published in the September-October 1990 ACI
using three different reinforcement details and varied Structural Journal if received by May I, 1990.

ACI Structural Journal I November-December 1989 679

ACI member Hashim M.S. Abdul· Wahab is Professor in the Building and
Construction Engineering Department, University of Technology, Baghdad, A total of 13 reinforced concrete 145 deg corner
Iraq. He received his BSc in civil and structural engineering from Birmingham specimens were tested under two symmetrically placed
University, U.K., in 1962, and his MEng and PhD degrees in concrete struc-
tures from Sheffield University, U.K., in /964 and /967, respectively. He is the
loads. They were divided into three groups. Table I and
author of numerous papers on concrete technology and structures, and his re- Fig. I give the properties and details of the test speci-
search interests include prestressed concrete, joints and connections in concrete mens. In Group A, five different reinforcement details
structures and steel fiber reinforced concrete.
were used, as shown in Fig. 2. They represent some of
Waleed M. Ali is an assistant lecturer at Hilla Technical Institute, Babylon, the most common arrangements of reinforcement. To
Iraq. He obtained his BSc and MSc degrees in building and construction engi- study the effect of varying stiffnesses in the adjoining
neering from the University of Technology, Baghdad.
members, the thickness of one leg was varied in Group
B among 100, 150, 200, 250, and 300 mm, and the
length of one leg varied in Group C among 1000, 1250,
Table 1 - Details of test specimens 1500, 1750, and 2000 mm. The reinforcement detail for
Reinforcement Thickness Length Groups Band C was kept the same as for Specimen AI
detail h, L,,
Specimen (Fig. 2) mm mm [Detail (a), Fig. 2]. All the specimens were 300-mm
AI a 100 1000
wide with two-10 mm diameter bars as the main rein-
forcement, so that the steel ratio wasp = 0.65 percent.
A2 b 100 1000
Nominal transverse reinforcement of 10 mm diameter
A3 c 100 1000 bars at 300-mm centers was provided to hold the main
A4 d 100 1000 reinforcement.
AS e 100 1000 The concrete used to cast the specimens was pre-
Bl a 150 1000 pared using ordinary portland cement, washed sand
B2 a 200 1000
with a maximum size of 4. 75 mm, and coarse aggregate
with a maximum size of 19 mm. The mix proportions
B3 a 250 1000
by weight were l :2:4 of cement:sand:coarse aggregate.
B4 a 300 1000 The water-cement ratio was 0.5. A horizontal pan
C1 a 100 1250 mixer was used, and the specimens were cast with their
C2 a 100 1500 sides laid horizontally, using a steel form. Control
C3 a 100 1750 specimens of six cylinders, 150 mm in diameter x 300
C4 a 100 2000
mm, and three prisms, 400 x I 00 x l 00 mm, were also
h, = 100 mm, L, = 1000 mm, p = 0.65 percent.
cast with each test specimen.
I in. = 25.4 mm. The reinforcing steel consisted of 10-mm diameter
deformed bars with a yield strength of JY = 470 MPa
(68 ksi) and ultimate strength fu = 705 MPa (102 ksi).
one member. This research forms part of a continuing
All the specimens were tested at 28 days, under pure
program at the University of Technology, Baghdad,
positive bending moments, as shown in Fig. 3. Special
that investigates the strength of joints in reinforced
steel pedestals (Detail A of Fig. 3) were used under the
concrete structures . 11
concentrated loads to facilitate the application of the
loads. Special care was taken to insure free horizontal
RESEARCH SIGNIFICANCE movement at the supports. Mechanical strain gages
This paper presents experimental data on reinforced were used to measure the strains in selected sections in
concrete 145 deg slab corners subjected to opening the corners and adjoining members. Dial gages were
bending moments. Tests have shown that the efficiency used to measure the deflections and horizontal move-
of a corner is greatly affected by its reinforcement de- ment in the specimens, as shown in Fig. 3.
tail as well as by the relative stiffness of the adjoining As the test progressed, the development and propa-
members. gation of the cracks were noted, as well as the load at

~---JJ~ Variable

z+= 10mm#Rt 300

300 ~


Fig. 1 - Specimen detail (1 in. 25.4 mm)

680 ACI Structural Journal I November-December 1989
laDle 2 - control specimen results
Compressive Tensile Modulus of Modulus of
strength splitting rupture elasticity
J:' strength/.', J;, E,
Specimen MPa MPa MPa GPa
AI 29.96 2.70 3.33 26.36
A2 29.56 2.90 3.62 28.09
A3 29.28 2.90 3.44 26.61
A4 30.34 3.08 4.03 27.48
AS 27.00 2.69 3.39 26.51
B1 28.78 2.75 3.55 27.44
B2 28.78 2.81 3.59 27.52
B3 27.30 2.69 3.35 26.36
B4 26.24 2.67 3.56 27.19
C1 27.96 2.71 3.30 26.24
C2 27.25 2.70 3.31 26.24
C3 26.80 2.71 3.35 23.42
C4 28.21 2.79 3.32 26.34
Ave. 28.04 2.78 3.47 26.60
I ks1 = 6.895 MPa, 1000 ksi = 6.895 GPa.
Fig. 2 - Reinforcement details in joint (1 in. 25.4
first crack and the mode of failure. The control speci- mm)
mens were tested the same day as the corner specimens
for the compressive strength J:, tensile splitting strength because of a change in thickness (as in Group B) or a
/,', modulus of rupture fm and modulus of elasticity Ec. change of length (as in Group C), the load-deflection
The test results for the control specimens are given in behavior was affected significantly, as shown in Fig. 5
Table 2. and 6. The greater the thickness ratio, the higher the
stiffness of the specimen; the greater the length ratio,
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION the higher the ductility of the corner specimen.
Behavior under load Fig. 7 shows a typical deflection profile for Speci-
At the early stages of loading, the corner specimens men B4 with different leg thickness. The effect of the
behaved in an elastic manner until the first crack ap- difference in stiffness between the two legs tended to
peared. It usually started at the inner angle of the cor- shift the point of maximum deflection away from the
ner at a moment of 1.67 to 2.08 kN · m, as shown in joint and reduced the risk of early failure at the corner.
Table 3 and Fig. 4 through 6 for the load-deflection The same tendency was observed in Group C, where the
curves. An inelastic stage then followed, with increas- length of the two legs was different. Fig. 8 shows a
ing deformation until the ultimate load was reached. As typical deflection profile for Specimen C4.
Fig. 4 shows, the reinforcement details had little influ- The strain variation along the joint followed the ex-
ence on the general load-deflection behavior, but af- pected pattern reported by earlier studies. 2 •9 Fig. 9
fected the ultimate loads significantly. Detail (d) exhib- shows a typical strain variation with the applied mo-
ited greater ductility than did the other forms of detail. ment for Specimen B4, and Fig. 10 shows a typical
When the stiffness of the two corner legs was different strain profile for Specimen A2.



Fig. 3 - Loading arrangement and instrumentation (1 in. = 25.4 mm)

ACI Structural Journal I November-December 1989 681

E6 variablf' ~-




h2/h I

I. 0
I. 5
82 200 2. 0
~ B3 250 ;. 5
c 84 JOO ]. 0

h1 =100mm I

8 10 12 16 18 20
Corner defle-ction

Fig. 5 - Moment-deflection curves for Group B (1 kip-in. O.Jl3 kN·m, 1 in.

25.4 mm)

Length of one- leg variable-:_

Specimen L2 ,mm Ll/LI

AI 1000 /. 00
Cl 1250 1.25
C2 1500 1-50
c C3 1750 1- 75
~ C4 2000 2-oo


16 18 20
Corner defle-ction_ mm

Fig. 6 - Moment-deflection curves for Group C (1 kip-in. O.ll3 kN·m, 1 in.

= 25.4 mm)

! l
~<b d) Cb (5 ~
5.8JkN /m


Dial gag• No.
Dail gag• No.

Fig. 7 - Typical deflection profile for Specimen B4 (1 Fig. 8 - Typical deflection profile for Specimen C4 (1
kip-in. = O.ll3 kN·m, 1 in. = 25.4 mm) kip-in. = O.ll3 kN·m, 1 in. = 25.4 mm)
ACI Structural Journal I November-December 1989 683

I 0 8 12 16
Compr11sion --- T~nsion

Fig. 9 - Typical strain variation with the applied mo-

ment for Specimen B4 (1 kip-in. == 0.113 kN·m, 1 in.
= 25.4 mm)

Fig. 12 -Failure patterns for Group B

40 30 20 10 10
Tension _-+_____. Compresion

Fig. 10 - Typical variation of strain profile with ap-

plied moment for Specimen A2 (1 kip-in. = 0.113 Fig. 13 - Failure patterns for Group C
kN· m, 1 in. = 25.4 mm)

Deloit: (a) (b) (c) (e) (d)


140 0
'$. ~k13S!N

::£ 120
a ///1 //

~~/ 90~N

------ --- ---~-l---;-.~f·~7~ . / ..

::£ 100
_ _ •....---- I,?/ .. 90"_/>1


f // /


~ 60 / • / N Nil sson 1' 1

/ • (5)

~ / ."/"' /. M Mayfield eta/

X~ +

Fig. 14 - Effect of reinforcement detail on corner ef-

Fig. 11 - Failure patterns for Group A ficiency
684 ACI Structural Journal I November-December 1989
The increase in the thickness of one leg increased the } 00 8/,
ultimate strength and improved the efficiency signifi-
cantly by allowing for greater energy absorption. As
shown in Fig. 15, the efficiency almost doubled when 160
the thickness of one leg was increased from 100 to 300 140
mm. In practical situations, as in staircase slabs or

-- --
1}0 x Nilsson ( 90•)
ramps, the difference in thickness between the adjoin-
ing members helps to increase the efficiency and reduce ~ 100 ---------- -~.::::-- --------------
the risk of diagonal tension failure. Results reported by I
80 AI
Nilsson 9 are also shown in Fig. 15. "
.~ 60
Fig. 16 shows the effect of varying the length of one ~
member on the efficiency of the corner. The greater the ;:; 1,0

increase in tht length in one leg, the higher the ultimate }0

strength and efficiency. A 32 percent increase in effi-

MPmber thickness, h2 : 100 200 300 mm
ciency was obtained when the ratio between the length
Thicknttss rotio h2/h1: 1 3
of the two legs was increased from 1 to 2.

CONCLUSIONS Fig. 15 - Effect of variation in one member thickness

From the experimental results obtained, the follow- on corner efficiency (1 in. = 25.4 mm)
ing conclusions can be drawn for obtuse corners
formed by joining two walls or slabs of equal or vary-
ing stiffness, and subjected to positive (opening) mo-
ment: C3 c'
1. The efficiency of the joint detail is improved when 120
inclined bars are added to take the tensile force at the • 100 ------------- -
inner corner. Loop bars with inclined bars resulted in ~ AI
the highest efficiency of 139 percent, and appear to be ·~ 80

the most suitable detail for continuous corners between ~ 60

lightly reinforced slabs. 1,0

2. The efficiency of corners is greatly improved when }0

the thicknesses of the adjoining members were differ-
ent. The efficiency increased to 197 percent when the Length of member, L2 1000 1500 2000 mm
1.5 }.0
thickness of one leg was increased from 100 to 300 mm. Length ratio L 2/L1 1·0

The mode of failure was also changed from diagonal

tension failure to flexural failure as a result of the dif- Fig. 16- Effect of variation in length of one member
on corner efficiency (1 in. = 25.4 mm)
ference in the stiffness between the two legs.
3. The increase in the length of one leg resulted in a 4. Prakash Rao, D. S., "Detailing of Reinforcement in Concrete
gradual change in the cracking and failure pattern from Structures," Indian Concrete Journal (Bombay), V. 59, No. I, Jan.
a typical diagonal tension to an extensive flexural 1985, pp. 22-25.
cracking with secondary diagonal tension failure. The 5. Mayfield, Brian; Kong, Fung-Kew; and Bennison, Alan,
"Strength and Stiffness of Lightweight Concrete Corners," ACI
efficiency of the corner also increased by 32 percent JoURNAL, Proceedings V. 69, No.7, July 1972, pp. 420-427.
when the length ratio was changed from 1 to 2. 6. "Standard Method of Detailing Structural Concrete," Institu-
tion of Structural Engineers/Concrete Society, London, Aug. 1985,
The experimental work reported in this paper was undertaken in the 7. Skettrup, Erik; Strabo, J!~Jrgen; Andersen, Niels Houmark; and
Building and Construction Engineering Department, University of Br!~Jndum-Nielsen, Troels, "Concrete Frame Corners," ACI JouR-
Technology, Baghdad. The authors gratefully acknowledge the valu- NAL, Proceedings V. 81, No.6, Nov.-Dec. !984, pp. 587-593.
able help and assistance of the technical staff of the Department. 8. Mayfield, Brian; Kong, Fung-Kew; Bennison, Alan; and Dav-
ies, Julian C. D. Twiston, "Corner Joint Details in Structural Light-
CONVERSION FACTORS weight Concrete," ACI JOURNAL, Proceedings V. 68, No. 5, May
I in. = 25.4 mm 1971, pp. 366-372.
I ksi = 6.895 MPa 9. Nilsson, Ingvar H. E., "Reinforced Concrete Corners and Joints
1000 ksi = 6.895 GPa Subjected to Bending Moment-Design of Corners and Joints in
I kip-in. = 0.113 kN·m Frame Structures," Document No. D7: 1973, National Swedish Insti-
tute for Building Research, Stockholm, 1973, 249 pp.
REFERENCES 10. ACI Committee 315, "Details and Detailing of Concrete Re-
I. Nilsson, lngvar H. E., and Losberg, Anders, "Reinforced Con- inforcement (ACI 315-80)," American Concrete Institute, Detroit,
crete Corners and Joints Subjected to Bending Moment," Proceed- 1980, 50 pp. Also, ACJ Manual of Concrete Practice, Part 3.
ings, ASCE, V. 102, ST6, June 1976, pp. 1229-1253. II. Ali, W. M., "The Behaviour and Strength of Inclined Joints in
2. Somerville, G., and Taylor, H. P. J., "The Influence of Rein- Reinforced Concrete Structures," MSc thesis, University of Technol-
forcement Detailing on the Strength of Concrete Structures," The ogy, Baghdad, 1986.
Structural Engineer (London), V. 50, No. I, Jan. 1972, pp. 7-19. 12. ACI Committee 318, "Building Code Requirements for Rein-
3. Park, Robert, and Paulay, Thomas, Reinforced Concrete Struc- forced Concrete (ACI 318M-83)," American Concrete Institute, De-
tures, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1975, 769 pp. troit, 1983, I I I pp.

ACI Structural Journal I November-December 1989 685