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Title no. 826
TECHNICAL PAPER
Deflection Control of Slabs Using Allowable Span to Depth Ratios
by R. I. Gilbert
A simple, design oriented procedure for the control of deflection in reinforced concrete slab systems is proposed. A rational and reliable expression for the maximum allowable span to depth ratio for beams, proposed recently by Rangan, is extended to the entire range of reinforced concrete flexural members including twoway, edgesupported slabs; flat slabs; and flat plates. The data used for the calibration of the procedure were obtained from an extensive series of computer experiments with reinforced concrete slabs conducted using a nonlinear, finite element model. The techniques are illustrated by example and a comparison with availablefield measurements oj inservice slab behavior is made.
Keywords: building codes; concrete slabs; deflection; flat concrete plates; flat concrete slabs; reinforced concrete; serviceability; spandepth ratio; structural design; twoway slabs.
The design of a reinforced concrete slab is complicated by the difficulties involved in estimating the service load behavior. The designer is first confronted with the problem of selecting a suitable slab thickness. A reasonable first estimate is desirable since, in many cases, the slab selfweight is a large proportion of the total service load. Strength considerations alone generally result in the selection of a slab depth which leads to inservice problems, in particular, excessive deflections. The relatively low steel quantities commonly used in slabs are evidence of either the conscious or the unconscious consideration of serviceability at the design stage. In ACI 31877, I two alternative procedures are proposed for the control of detlections. Detlections may be calculated directly and the magnitudes compared with specified deflection limits. Although simple, semiempirical methods have been developed to predict the deflections of reinforced concrete beams, the same is not true for twoway slab systems. The threedimensional nature of the problem, the less weIl defined influence of cracking and tension stiffening, and the development of biaxial creep and shrinkage strains create additional difficulties. Practicing engineers have no reliable method for estimating either shortterm or longterm slab deflections and the code gives little guidance. Alternatively, ACI 31877 implies that deflections need not be calculated if the slab thickness is greater ACI JOURNAL I JanuaryFebruary 1985
than a minimum specified value. This approach is simple and therefore ideal for use in routine design. However, the selection of the minimum thickness as specified in Section 9.5.3.1 of ACI 31877 does not guarantee serviceability and does not give the designer any idea of the magnitude of the final deflection. Indeed, an equation for slab thickness which does not include an allowance for the actual load levels, the steel quantities and the desired detlection limit can not insure adequate deflection control. Similar criticism has been voiced by others.' Recently, Rangan' proposed a simple expression for allowable span to depth ratios for beams which appears to provide adequate detlection control. Rangan's expression was developed from the deflection computation procedure proposed by Branson':' which has been widely accepted'> and agrees well with test data. In this paper, Rangan's expression for the maximum allowable span to depth ratios for reinforced concrete beams is extended to include the cases of the twoway, edgesupported slabs; flat slabs; and flat plates. The extension stems from an earlier investigation of span to depth ratios for slabs? and is based on data obtained from an extensive series of parametric computer experiments with reinforced concrete slabs.v" The proposed extension of Rangan's expression provides a rational procedure for obtaining maximum allowable span to depth ratios for the entire range of reinforced concrete flexural members. The procedure is at once simple and flexible and provides the designer with a reliable and sure means for the control of deflections. SPAN TO DEPTH RATIOS FOR BEAMS Rangan's expression Using an elastic analysis and a simplification of Branson's equation for the effective moment of inertia
,Received Aug. 26, 1983 and reviewed under Institute publication policies. Copyright © 1985~ American Concrete Institute. All rights reserved, including the makm~ of COllIes unless llermlsslOn .IS obt.amed from the copyright proprio etors. Pertinent dISCUSSIon WIll be published in the NovemberDecember 1985 ACI JOURNAL if received by Aug. I, 1985.
ALLOWABLE
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R. I. Gilbert is a senior lecturer in civil engineering at the University oj New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. He is actively engaged in the development oj theoretical models jar the prediction oj the service load behavior oj concrete structures. He IS a member oj the Institution oj Engineers, Australia, and the Concrete Structures Committee BD/2!2 oj the Standards Association oj Australia,
close agreement with Brason's well known equation for Ie\
of a cracked section," Rangan' proposed the following expression (with some notation changes) for the maximum allowable span to depth ratio of a reinforced concrete beam:
eI d
::::; KJK,
where KJ is a factor which depends on the support conditions and may be taken as: 1.0 for a simply supported member 1.3 for an exterior span of a continuous member 1.5 for an interior span of a continuous member and 0.3 for a cantilever K, is a factor for flanged beams and varies from 0.8 for narrow webbed flanged beams to 1.0 for rectangular sections ex accounts for the effects of the reinforcement ratio p and the modular ratio n on the effective moment of inertia of the beam after cracking and ex ex
be! = =
le

Ll (
exb etE c ) w, + cw,
lO,)3
(1)
15.fPrl::::;
8.0 for pn > 0.045 1!7 on ::::;5.0 for on ~ 0.045
(2)
is the effective width of the compressive face at the midspan region (or at the support of a cantilever) e is the effective span (centertocenter of support or clear span plus depth, whichever is smaller) d is the effective depth to the tensile reinforcement E, is the elastic modulus of concrete w, is the sustained load per unit length (which includes the sustained portion of the live load) w, is the variable portion of the live load per unit length If the member is not supporting nonstructural elements likely to be damaged by deflection: 6 is the maximum permissible total deflection (say £1240) c is equal to 1 + " For members supporting nonstructural elements likely to be damaged by excessive deflection: /::,. is the maximum permissible incremental deflection (or that part of the total deflection which occurs after the attachment of nonstructural elements, say e1360 or €I 1000. c is equal to " and " is the longterm deflection multiplication factor' and
"=
The cracking moment M" is usually deemed to occur when the extreme tensile fiber of the gross section reaches a limiting stress of 7 .5.JJ[ when j" is expressed in psi (0.62.JJ[ when Ji is in MPa)Y It is argued, with justification, that the use of Eq. (1) for limiting the span to depth ratio of a beam is as reliable as limiting the deflection of a beam calculated using Eq. (4). It is perhaps worthwhile here to briefly comment on the applicability of Eq. (4). Branson's equation was developed from a statistical study of 54 shortterm specimens which all were loaded to at least twice the cracking moment and which all had reinforcement ratios greater than 0.006. It is of interest to note that most twoway slabs fall outside the limits of Branson's study. For lightly loaded members with low reinforcement ratios, such as most slabs, the maximum inservice moment may be little more than the cracking moment. In such cases, Eq. (4) suggests that little loss of stiffness due to cracking occurs. However, cracking may occur at load levels well below that assumed by Branson due to tensile stresses induced by shrinkage and by temperature changes. In fact, shrinkageinduced cracking in slabs can reduce the flexural stiffness even before the formwork is removed and the slab is first loaded. The use of Eq. (4), together with the longterm deflection multiplier [Eq. (3)], can therefore greatly underestimate slab deflections. Rangan recognized this inadequacy and proposed an upper limit on the cracked stiffness of beams with low reinforcement ratios [see Eq. (2)]. The accuracy of this expedient will be examined later. ALLOWABLE SPAN TO DEPTH RATIOS FOR SLABS Introduction To extend Eq. (1) to include the case of twoway Slabs, several difficulties must be overcome. Apart for the possible inaccuracies of Eq. (3) and (4) for members with low reinforcement ratios, the need to model plate action rather than beam action becomes paramount. The twoway nature of the load dispersion and the stiffness of the orthotropic reinforced concrete plate must be accounted for quantitatively. Previous attempts to account for these factors and to develop simplified, designoriented procedures for the control of slab deflections have been hampered by the lack of suitable experimental data. Little research effort has been expended on experimental investigations of the inservice behavior of slabs. It is only in recent years that sophisticated theoretical models have been developed as research tools to generate the extensive data necessary for the calibration of simplified models and procedures. In the following sections, an extension of Eq. (I) to include slabs is presented and calibrated using the reACI JOURNAL
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2.0  1.2A; lA, ~ 0.6
(3)
Discussion In the development of Eq. (I), the effective moment of inertia of the cracked beam section under the maximum inservice moment M, was selected to provide
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sults obtained from a series of parametric computer experiments using one such theoretical research model. Computer experimentation The computer experiments were performed using a layered, compatible, plate bending, finite element model which was developed to study the longterm serviceload behavior of reinforced and prestressed concrete slabs." This slab simulation model accounts for the various sources of material nonlinearity, such as cracking, tension stiffening, creep, and shrinkage, and has been shown to accurately predict both the instantaneous and timedependent behavior of a variety of concrete slabs. Using the finite element model, several reinforced concrete slab types were analyzed, including oneway slabs; twoway, edgesupported slabs; fIat slabs; and flat plates. The aim of this computer study was to develop a set of limiting e;d ratios which provides adequate control of inservice deflections for each slab type. The advantage of this approach is that results are obtained from a model which attacks the problem at a "constitutive relationship" level and which has been shown to agree well with macroscopic measurements of structural behavior. No use is made of empirical estimates of stiffness, longterm deflection multipliers, or conclusions drawn from experimental testing of statically determinate concrete beams. A description of the computer investigation has been reported elsewhere.!" To allow the results of the investigation to be of use to practicing engineers, a semiempirical expression for the maximum allowable t/d ratio, which provided close agreement with the experimental results for each slab type, was previously developed.' While this expression has been shown to provide adequate deflection control for slabs, it is restricted by the scope of the computer investigation and cannot be extended to cover the entire range of reinforced concrete flexural members. Following the development of Eq. (1), it was decided to reexamine the computer results in an attempt to develop a "slab system factor" which could be used to satisfactorily modify Rangari's expression. Oneway slabs In Table 1, a comparison is made between the maximum permissible £/d ratios determined analytically on the computer and those obtained using Eq. (1) for a number of simply supported oneway slabs. The maximum total deflection was limited to f /250 and the characteristic compressive strength of the concrete and the yield stress of the steel weie f" = 25 MPa (3625 psi) and j, = 410 MPa (60 ksi), respectively. The £Id ratio obtained using Eq. (1) was determined by considering an equivalent 1 m wide beam with the same span and support conditions as the oneway slab. The properties of the slab, which suffered a maximum total deflection of rJ250, were determined using successive iterations on the computer and then fed into Eq. (1) to compare the two approaches. In each case, the quantity of tensile reinforcement was that required to ACI JOURNAL
J JanuaryFebruary
Table 1  Comparison of maximum permissible RId ratios for simply supported oneway slabs
Span, m (in.) 3.0 (118) 5.0 (197) 7.0 (276) 3.0 (118) 5.0 (197) 7,0 (276) 3,0 (l1S) 5.0 (197) 7,0 (276)
Slab No. I 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
kN/m' (psf) 1.0 (20.9) 1.0 (20,9) 1.0 (20.9) 3.0 (62,7) 3.0 (62,7) 3,0 (62,7) 5.0 (104.4) 5.0 (104.4) 5.0 (104,4)
w"
Maximum permissible £I d
p,
(= A/bd) 0.0029 0.0030
I ;
Computer predictions 33.0 28.0 23.6 29,S
Eq. (I) 31.8 27.6 24.2 28.7 25.4 22.8 26.0 23.6 21.4
0.0031 0,0036 0.0036 0.0036
I
I
26.2 22.S 27.5
0,0042 0.0040 0,0040
I
I
=
24.4 21.7
I
Note: The sustained weight.
load for all slabs was w,
1.0 kN/m' (20.9 psf) + self
satisfy the design objective of adequate strength. In each case, the reinforcement ratio p is low. This indicates that stiffness rather than strength is the main design concern. Despite great differences in the methods of development, agreement between the two approaches is excellent and Rangan's upper limit on the cracked stiffness of members with low reinforcement ratios [Eq. (2)] appears to be well calibrated. Edgesupported twoway slabs In addition to the factors which affect beam and oneway slab deflections, the deflection of a twoway, edgesupported, rectangular slab panel depends on the support conditions on all four sides and, importantly, on the aspect ratio, i.e., the ratio of the longer to the shorter panel dimension (£y/£J. The load on the slab is resisted not only by orthogonal bending moments but also by twisting moments. To apply Eq. (1) to twoway slabs, it is necessary to devise a simple yet reasonably accurate "equivalent beam" which suffers the same overall deflection as the uniformly loaded slab. Fig. 1 shows a pair of 1 m wide beams at right angles through the center of the slab panel, similar to those first suggested by Marsh" in 1904. The support of each beam has the same conditions of continuity as the corresponding edge of the slab. By enforcing the requirement that the midspan deflection of each beam is equal, the fraction of the uniformly distributed load carried by the beam strips in each direction may be readily calculated. The shorter span beam in Fig. 1 has been selected as the equivalent beam and the uniformly distributed load per meter resisted by this beam is calculated as indicated above. If the two orthogonal beams have similar support conditions, the fraction k of the total load carried by the equivalent beam may be approximated by the wellknown expression.
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1
£ I
t Col ,
t Col
Equivalent Fully supported all four edges
Beam on
PLAN
Fig. iThe equivalent beam in a twoway, edge supported slab
Table 2 Slab system factor, K3
Aspect ratio. f / t, Slab Type Oneway slab: Twoway. edgesupported slab: 1.0 1.0 1.23 0.94 0.86 1.25 1.00 1.15 1.00 0.91 1.50 1.00 1.09 1.03 0.95 2.0 1.00 1.04 1.08 1.00
Fig. 2 The equivalent beam in a flat slab or flat plate
Proposed procedure The maximum allowable span to depth ratio for a reinforced concrete slab may be calculated by applying Eq. (6) to the appropriate equivalent beam as previously defined. eld~KIK1KJ
Flat slab: With drop panels: Without drop panels:
f
.1 ( 
e
cx.bef E c k (w, + cwJ
)1°."
(6)
k
(5)
Of course, this result is approximate because it neglects the twisting moments in the slab and assumes that the flexural rigidity of each beam is similar. To overcome these sources of inaccuracy and to provide close agreement with the computer predictions, a "slab systems factor," Kj, has been introduced as an additional multiplication factor in Eq. (1). Values of K3 for twoway edgesupported slabs depend on the aspect ratio of the slab and are given in Table 2. Flat slabs and flat plates Fig. 2 shows a typical portion of a flat slab. The equivalent beam adopted for use with Eq. (1) is aim wide beam located on the column line in the longspan direction. The reinforcement at any point along the equivalent beam is the average of the appropriate column and middle strip reinforcement quantities per meter width. Since the total load is carried in both directions by the slab, the fraction k in a flat slab is unity. The slab system factor K3 for flat slabs with and without drop panels is given in Table 2 and was calibrated using the data obtained as output from the computer based slab simulation model. In these analyses, all drop panels extended a distance from the centerline of the column support equal to onesixth the span length in each direction and projected below the slab by h13, where h is the slab thickness. If an exterior panel of a flat slab has stiff spandrel beams spanning perpendicular to the equivalent beam, the factor KJ may be increased by an additional factor of 1.03.
where K, is the slab system factor (Table 2) k is that fraction of the total uniformly distributed load carried by the equivalent beam and is unity for oneway slabs and flat slabs be! is the effective width of the equivalent beam, m
(ft)
w, and w, are the sustained and variable loads, respectively, carried by the equivalent beam per unit length and are numerically equal to the sustained and variable slab loads per rrr' (ft") is the effective span of the equivalent beam All other notation is as defined for Eq, (1). APPLICATION Worked example A twoway edgesupported slab is discontinuous on one long edge and continuous on the remaining three edges. The design data for the rectangular panel are: ey = 7.5 m (24.6 ft); ex = 5.0 m (16.4 ft); w, = 3.0 kNI m (62.7 psf); w, = 7.0 kN/m1 (146.2 psf); f,' = 25 MPa (3625 psi); t, = 410 MPa (60 ksi); E, = 25,000 MPa (3625 ksi) and the maximum permissible total deflection is e1250 [or 20 mm (0.79 in.) in this case]. The aim is to find the minimum required slab thickness. It is first necessary to determine the portion of the total load w carried by the equivalent beam, which in this case is continuous at one support only. The approximate procedure in which the midspan deflection of the equivalent beam is equated to the midspan deflection of an orthogonal beam, as shown in Fig. 1, is used here. The midspan deflection .1 of the equivalent beam under the load kw is approximated by ACI JOURNAL
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1985
384
EI
(7)
The beam through the slab centre at right angles to the equivalent beam is continuous at both ends and suffers a midspan deflection of
tion into Eq. (6) were obtained from the reinforcement quantities and material properties reported by Taylor. I I and are: KI = 1.5; K2 = 1.0; K3 = 0.91; p = 0.0049; IX = 3.70; be! = 1000 mm (12 in.); E, = 25,160 MPa (3648 ksi); Ws = 5.27 kN/m (110 lb/ft); w, = 0; k = 1; e = 6350 mm (250 in.); and" is taken to be 2.0 [Eq.
(3)].
t.
= _1_ (1 
k) wf\
384
EI
(8)
The total midpanel deflection measured by Taylor was t. = 19 mm (0.75 in.) after 2Y2 years. With this data, Eq. (6) suggests that the t/d is t/d
=
The fraction k is obtained by equating the right hand sides of Eq. (7) and (8) and solving. Thus, for this example k 0.72
(9)
1.5 x 1.0 x 0.91
lGi;~)e_·7Q_2</~~.;/5,16_Q)
34.4
r
J3
To use Eq. (6), an estimate of the average reinforcement ratio p is required. For this slab type, a reasonable first estimate is p = 0.004 and from Eq. (2), IX = 4.46. The other parameters required for substitution in Eq. (6) are: KI = 1.3; K2 = 1.0; KJ = 1.09; t. = 20mm (0.79 in.); c = 3.0; e = 5000 mm (197 in.); be! = IOOOmm (12 in.); w, = 3.0 kN/m (62.7 lb/ft); and Ws = 7.0 kN/m (146.2Ib/ft). By substitution into Eq. (6), the minimum span to depth ratio and the corresponding minimum effective depth are e! d ;;; 40.5 and d ~ = 124 mm (4.9 in.). Using 12 mm (0.5 in.) diameter reinforcing bars and 20 mm (0.75 in.) cover to the steel in the shortspan direction results in a minimum slab thickness of 150 mm (5.9 in.). With this size slab, the reinforcement in the shortspan direction required to satisfy the design objective of adequate strength is approximately p = 0.0036 in the positive moment region and p = 0.0048 over the continuous support. The average value for p assumed in the calculations above is considered acceptable and no refining iterations are necessary.
The incremental deflection, which occurred after the initial or shortterm deflection, was 15.5 mm (0.61 in.) and if this is used in Eq. (6), the required t/d is t/d
= 1.5 x 1.0 x 0.91
15.5) 6350 36.8
l(
(3.70 x 1000 x 25,160)l°.33 2 x 5.27
Both these predictions are in close agreement with the actual span to depth ratio of the slab. Case 2 An internal panel of a flat plate floor in an open air carpark, which was constructed in 1965 and monitored by Taylor" for 3 Yz years, was analyzed. The slab was 241 mm (9.5 in.) thick with 2440 x 2440 x 152 mm (96 x 96 x 6 in.) drop panels over each column and an effective depth to the longspan reinforcement at midspan of 212 mm (8.3 in.). The panel plan dimensions were 8.61 m (28.2 ft) by 7.93 m (26.0 ft), measured center to center of the columns, and the actual t/d was therefore 86101212 = 40.6. The sustained load was 5.75 k.Nz'rrr' and the variable live load was 2.87 kNz m". The reinforcement layout and material properties used in the analysis of the equivalent beam are as detailed by Taylor. It is noted that the slab reinforcement was designed by assuming it to be a flat plate without drop panels. The presence of the drop panels increases the slab stiffness and provides a large reserve of strength. At the same time, the relatively deep drops reduce the reinforcement ratio over the columns. The parameters required for substitution into Eq , (6) are KI = 1.5; K2 = 1.0; KJ = 0.96; IX = 5.0; be! = 1000 mm (12 in.); k = 1; E, = 24,500 MPa (3550 ksi); e = 8610 mm (340 in.); w, = 5.75 kN/m (120 Ib/ft); and w, = 2.87 kN/m (60 lb/ft), The incremental deflection which occurred with time after the removal of the formwork was t. = 18 mm (0.7 in.) and, from Eq , (6) t/d == 1.5 x 1.0 x 0.96 (18.0) (5.0 x 1000 x 24,500)J 8610 2.87 + 2.0 x 5.75 36.4
5000/40.5
Comparison with test data No well documented, laboratory controlled longterm tests of twoway reinforced concrete slabs exist. However, field measurements on several inservice slabs were reported by Taylor" and form a suitable set of data for comparison with predictions made using Eq. (6). Case 1 An internal panel of a flat plate roof slab, with plan dimensions of 6.35 m (20.8 ft) by 5.08 m (16.7 ft) measured from center to center of columns, was analyzed. The slab was 203 mm (8.0 in.) thick with an effective depth to the steel in the long span direction of 173 mm (6.8 in.). The actual t/d ratio was therefore 36.7. The sustained load, including the self weight, was 5.27 kNI m' (110 psf), construction loads were negligible, and the roof was nontrafficable. The variable load was therefore taken to be zero. The average reinforcement ratio in the equivalent beam and the other parameters required for substituACI JOURNAL I JanuaryFebruary 1985
l
O 33 .
71
This is slightly less than the actual t/d. However, the drop panels were deeper than those used in the computer experiments which led to the calibration of the slab system factor K3 (a 62 percent increase in slab thickness compared with the 33 percent increase assumed) and a smaller Cld is to be expected.
CONCLUSION A simple, designoriented procedure for the control of deflections in reinforced concrete slab systems has been proposed. A maximum allowable span to depth ratio is calculated using a rational procedure first developed for beams by Rangan' and extended to cover the entire range of reinforced concrete flexural members. The procedure was calibrated using data generated by a finite element slab simulation model and has been shown to agree well with field measurements of inservice slabs.
REFERENCES
1. ACI Committee 318, "Building Code Requirements for Reinforced Concrete (ACI 31877)," American Concrete Institute, Detroit, 1977, 102 pp,
2. Rangan, B. Vijaya , and McMullen, Arthur E., "A Rational Approach to the Control of Slab Deflections," ACI JOURNAL, Proceedings V. 75, No.6, June 1978, pp. 256262. 3. Rangan, B. Vijaya, "Control of Beam Deflections by Allowable SpanDepth Ratios," ACI JOURNAL, Proceedings V. 79, No.5, Sept.Oct. 1982, pp. 372377. 4. Branson, Dan E., "Instantaneous and TimeDependent Deflections of Simple and Continuous Reinforced Concrete Beams," HPR Report No.7, Part I, Alabama Highway Department, Bureau of Public Roads, Aug. 1963,78 pp, 5. Branson, Dan E., "Design Procedures for Computing Deflections," ACI JOURNAL, Proceedings V. 65, No.9, Sept. 1968, pp, 730742. 6. "SAA Concrete Structures Code," (AS 14801974), Standards Association of Australia, Sydney, 1974, 101 pp, 7. Gilbert, R. I., "Allowable Span to Depth Ratios for Reinforced Concrete Slabs," Proceedings, 7th Australasian Conference on the Mechanics of Structures and Materials, University of Western Australia, Perth, May 1980, pp. 103109. 8. Gilbert, R. I., "TimeDependent Behaviour of Structural Concrete Slabs," PhD thesis, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Mar. 1979, 361 pp. 9. Gilbert, R. 1., "Computer Experiments with Reinforced Concrete Slabs," UN/ClV Report No. R195, School of Civil Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Mar. 1980,63 pp. 10. Marsh, C. F., Reinforced Concrete, D. Van Nostrand Co., New York, 1904,283 pp, II. Taylor, P. J., "The Initial and LongTerm Deflection of Reinforced Concrete Flat Slabs and Plates," ME thesis, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 1971, 179 pp.
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1985
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