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This thesis report is concerned with the analysis of behavior of the slab on grade under
various loading condition. Here concentrated loads on the slab at three different positions are
taken into account. The positions considered are – at the centre, at the corner and at the edge of
the slab. The analysis is done by using the software- STAAD.Pro.

The thesis aims to graphical analysis the behavior of the slab. The graphs are constructed
with the results for different loading condition, obtained from the analysis by STAAD.Pro. The
graph shows the critical point of a slab for a specific loading as well as the other points

Failures of concrete slab on grade are frequent. Cracks may be caused from unequal
settlement. The critical point on the graph shows the most vulnerable location for loadings. This
thesis report treats these points and analyze the behavior of the slab.


Slab-on-ground is defined as:

A slab supported by ground, whose main purpose is to support the applied loads by bearing
on the ground. The slab is of uniform or variable thickness and it may include stiffening
elements such as ribs or beams. The slab may be unreinforced or reinforced with nonprestressed
reinforcement, fibers, or post-tensioned tendons. The reinforcement may be provided to limit
crack widths resulting from shrinkage and temperature restraint and the applied loads. Post-
tensioning tendons may be provided to minimize cracking due to shrinkage and temperature
restraint, resist the applied loads, and accommodate movements due to expansive soil volume

The use of structural slab-on-grade construction is not common practice in Bangladesh

since the depth of frost penetration in most areas, and thus the required depth of footings, warrant
the construction of a basement. However, in situations where a basement is undesirable or where
problem soils are encountered, a structural slab-on-grade may be preferred.

The concrete floor is often the most used, and noticed, part of the building. With that
amount of importance, one would think that we would usually get them right. Unfortunately, it is
all too rare that the concrete floor meets the criteria of Owner, design professional and contactor
throughout the life of the building.

As structural slab-on-grade construction is not common practice, builders unfamiliar with

its use may encounter problems with construction.
Installing Slabs on Grade

An area of the floor system that is crucially important is the sub-grade on sub-base. The
most important item is proper compaction; many floors settle and have structural cracks. Of
course organic material cannot be properly compacted and must never be in the sub-grade. It is a
simple fact that the floor system rests on the grade and if the sub-grade settles the floor settles.

Forming of concrete floors is reasonably straight forward. One must remember, though,
that loose or warped edge forms cause uneven floors. Therefore, the care taken with the edge
form setting will be proportional to final flatness of the floor.

Placing concrete in hot weather, particularly when the walls and roof are not yet completed,
creates some additional quality concerns. Plastic cracking is one of the worse problems that
occur. Plastic shrinkage cracks form before the concrete hardens and are caused by hot, dry,
and/or windy conditions. The cracks resemble the shrinkage cracks seen in clay soils during very
dry weather.

Curing can also create lots of problems for concrete floors. Since water evaporates so quickly
from the large exposed surface, without proper curing methods a floor is likely to rack, craze and
dust. The three most common means of curing are:

1. Wet cure by covering, after finishing, with continuously watered burlap.

2. Wet cure by watering finished slab and covering with plastic or paper.
3. Seal cure with liquid membrane curling compound.

Failure of ground supported slabs

Failure of ground supported slabs is all too common. Unequal settlement, overloading and
restrained shrinkage and thermal displacement all tends to produce cracking. The passage of
wheel loads over crack or improperly made joints often leads to failure by progressive
disintegration of the concrete. Slab failure, when they occur is not spectacular and do not results
in collapse in the usual scene, but the use fullness of the slab may be gladly simpered, and repairs
are often costly.

Design methods for slab on ground vary. There is a common theoretical basis that assumes
highly idealizes conditions, but results are modified in recognition of test data and practical
experience. Generally the design is based in natural service loads and concrete stress that are
compacted against specified limit. Steel reinforcement are used is placed mainly for crack
control, although more modern method of analysis and design account for its contribution in a
structural scene.
Shrinkage and temperature effects

A concrete pavement slab, unloaded except for its self weight. Concrete Shrinkage
or a decrease in temperature, tends to contract the slab, but this contraction is resisted by
frictional drug between the slab and the sub grade. This causes tensile forces in slab. If the total
length of slab between construction joints is l, than equilibrium of the horizontal forces for one
half the length for unit strip of slab indicate that the tension force at a cross section at the mid
length is

T = w0lμ / 2


Wo = self weight of pavement slab, psi

μ = coefficient of friction between slab and subgrade

l = length between contraction or contraction joints

T = tensile force

The coefficient of friction varies widely, depending mainly on the roughness of the sub
grade, and tests show a range between about 1 and 2.5. The coefficient may be less than 1.0 if
plastic film is used between the slab sub grades. For design of highway pavement the AASHTO.
Interim Guide assumes a value of 1.5. If the slab has not tensile stress in psi is

Ft = T / 12h

Where h is the thickness in inches.

Commonly there is a variation if temperature or concrete shrinkage thought of the slab depth.
“Why it is so difficult to obtain and economical, serviceable concrete floor.”

The best way to approach this question is to examine some of the things that go wrong.
Generally problems stem from construction practices, materials, or improper design. A list of
concrete floor problems follows:

 Cracking – structural
 Cracking – shrinkage
 Curling- Top of slab shrinks more than bottom and slab edge lifts.
 Scaling – Hardened concrete breaking away from slab top in sheets 1/8” to ¼”
 Dusting – Appearance of powdery material at slab surface.
 Crazing – Many fine hairline cracks in a new slab which resemble a road map.
 Spalling – disintegration of concrete at joint edges.

In order to avoid the above problems, all the details of a concrete slab, from design to
curing, must be performed appropriately. Due to the importance of the floor, we will examine a
step-by-step procedure for obtaining an acceptable concrete slab-on-grade.

The first step in the process is the concrete design mix. Rarely does low quality concrete
produce a high quality floor. A 4000 psi concrete is recommended instead of a 3000 psi mix due
to the higher cement content and improved wear resistance. The Portland Cement Association
recommends that a commercial or industrial concrete floor use a concrete with a three day
compressive strength of 1800 psi. This requirement provides early protection from construction
traffic. Water-cement ratio is also critical for concrete slabs-on-grade in order to minimized
shrinkage cracking.

A manual was prepared which addresses common construction problems associated with
structural slab-on-grade construction. It does not address issues related to their structural design.
The manual follows the format of CMHC's Builder Workshop series, stating various problems,
followed by possible causes and solutions. The key points contained in the manual are
summarized in the table below:

Problem: Cracking Of The Slab

Cause Solution

Follow good construction practices, including the following:

Poor construction techniques  Dampen the earth before placing concrete.

and practices  Avoid over-trowelling.
 Do not finish concrete surfaces when bleed water is
 Keep concrete continuously moist for at least 24 hours.
 Never add water on site during placement or finishing.
 Maintain concrete above 10ºC during and for three days
after placement.
 Protect fresh concrete from rapid drying, direct sun and
Differential or uneven
 Ensure the subgrade is uniform and sufficiently compacted
Minimize the shrinkage of the concrete:

 Use the stiffest mix (lowest slump) possible.

 Use the largest maximum size aggregate.
 Cure the concrete as long as possible.
Curling of the slab  Reduce moisture loss from the surface by using coatings,
sealers and waxes.
 Provide sand over damp proofing to allow some moisture
loss at the bottom of the slab.
 Ensure there are sufficient expansion joints in the slab.
 Use a thicker slab.
 Ensure the slab is properly designed to Part 4 of the
Inadequate structural strength National Building Code.
of concrete  Use concrete with sufficient compressive strength, at least
25 MPa, but preferably 30 MPa.
 Never pour concrete on a frozen subgrade.
 Maintain above-freezing temperatures in the house during
Frost heave construction.
 Use adequate insulation to reduce the depth of frost
Use proper installation techniques, including:
 Locate mesh no more than 50 mm below the surface of the
 Lap mesh at least one square.
Improper placement of
 Use chairs to support the mesh at the correct height during
reinforcing and mesh
concrete pouring.
 Ensure the minimum concrete cover over reinforcing steel
is at least 76 mm.
 Lap steel at least 24 bar diameters, but at least 300 mm
Problem: Damp or wet floor slab, excessive humidity

Cause Solution

 Provide a capillary break (for example, a granular layer)

Moisture migration through the
under the floor slab.
 Provide perimeter drainage and/or a sump pump.
 Eliminate cracks and holes in the slab, seal around pipes,
Air leakage through the slab
drains and ducts, use traps in drains.
 Damp proof the slab, either on top using at least two
Water vapour diffusion mopped-on coats of bitumen where a separate finished
through the slab floor is provided, or under the slab using at least 0.15 mm
polyethylene or Type S roll roofing.
 Provide good site drainage by sloping the subgrade and all
Poor site drainage surface grades away from the house and draining
downspouts away from the house.

Problem: Cold floors

Cause Solution

 Provide adequate insulation under and around the perimeter

Heat loss from the slab of the slab.
 Provide radiant heating in the slab.
Thermal bridging  Insulate the edge of the slab.

The manual also provides appendices on two important issues: the preparation of the
subgrade and options for insulating the slab-on-grade.

To prepare the subgrade, the topsoil must first be completely removed. The characteristics
of the subgrade material must then be evaluated to determine if additional compaction is required
to improve the structural properties of the soil. If compaction is required, the limits of
compaction should be the entire area of the building plus a 1,500 to 3,000 mm (5 to 10 ft)
perimeter border. Testing, using the Proctor test, the Modified AASHTO test or the vibrating
hammer test, should be conducted to confirm the compaction of the soil. If fill material is added
to improve the subgrade, it should be a stable material that can be thoroughly compacted. Buried
utility lines, water pipes, sewers, etc. should be covered with at least 50 mm (2 in.) of compacted
soil with similar moisture and density conditions as the adjacent soil.

After the subgrade is compacted to the required density and graded, a subbase layer of 100
mm (4 in.) of well-graded rock or gravel can be spread over the entire subgrade to provide a
more uniform support for the slab. It should be compacted to a minimum of 98% maximum
density at optimum moisture content. The granular subbase also provides a capillary break
helping to damp proof the slab.

A typical insulation system is shown in Figure

Chapter 2
Concept and Methodology:


Concrete slabs are often poured directly on the ground; they receive more or less uniform
support from the soil. Roadway and sidewalk slabs, basement floors, and warehouse floors are
common examples of this type of construction. Ordinary it is desirable to provide a base course
of wall-complicated crushed stone or gravel. The prepared subgrade, approximately 6 to 12 in,
thick, serves (1) to provide more uniform support than if the slab were carried directly on the on
the natural soil, and (2) to improve then drainage of water from beneath the slab. The latter is
particularly important in outdoor locations subjects to freezing temperatures.

Failures of concrete slabs on ground are not infrequent. Unequal settlement or overloading
may cause cracking, as well as restrained shrinkage as volume changes occur. Passing of wheel
loads over cracks or improperly made joints may lead to progressive failure by disintegration of
the concrete. Failures are not spectacular and do not involve collapse in the usual sense. They
may even pass unnoticed for a considerable period of time. Nevertheless, the function of the
structure is often impaired and repairs are both embarrassing and costly.

It is the slab is loaded uniformly over its entire areas and is supported by an absolutely
uniform, sub grade; stresses will be due solely to restrained volumetric changes. However,
foundation materials are not uniform in their properties. In addition, most slabs are subjected to
no uniform loading.

Methods of analysis for slab on grade are similar to those developed for beams on elastic
foundations. Usually the slab is assumed to be homogenous, isotropic and elastic; the reaction of
the sub grade is assumed to be only vertical and proportional to the defection. The stiffness of the
soil is expressed is terms of the modulus of subgrade reaction is usually in units of ton per in, or
simply, lb per in. The numerical value of k varies widely for different soil types and degrees of
consolidation and is generally based on experimental observation.

The usual method of constructing a structural slab-on-grade is to use a thickened slab; at

the edges of the slab, where most of the load will be carried, the slab is thickened, the thickened
portion being cast integrally with the rest of the slab.

For the analyze, concentric loads may be placed according to following three cases. Those
are as follows-

Case 1: Wheel load close to the corner of a large slab:

With a load applied at the corner of a slab, the critical streets in the concerts are tension at
the top surface of the slab. An approximate solution due to A.T. Gold back, assumes point load
acting at the corner of the slab. At small distances (from the corner, the upgrade reaction of the
soil has little effect and the slab is considered to act at a cantilever. At a distance z from the
corner, the bending moment is pz; it is assumed to be uniformly distributed across the width of
the seciton of slab at right angles to the bisector of the corner angle. For a 900 corner the width of
the seciton is 2r and bending moment per unit width of slab is

Pz P

2z 2

If h is the thickness of the slab the tensile stress at the top surface is

M P2 3P
fx   
2 h26 h2

Equation (4.5) will give reasonably close results only in the immediate vicinity of the slab
corner, and if the load is applied over a small contact are :
In an analysis which considers the reaction of the sub grade and which consider the load to
be applied over a contact area of radius 0 (see Fig: ...) West guard derives the expression for
critical session at the top of the slab, occurring at a distance a L from the corner of the slab:

 0.5 
3P   a 2  
f2  
1  

h2   L  
 

In which L is the radius of relative’s stiffness, equal to

Eh 2
12(1   2 )k

where E = elastic modulus of concrete, psi

P = Polson’s ratio

k = modulus of subgrade reaction, Ib/in2

The value of L reflects the relative stiffness of the slab and the sub-grade. It will be large
for a stiff slab and slot base and small for a flexible slab on a still base.

Case 2: wheel load considerable distance fronts the edges of a slab:

With the load is applied some distance from the edges of the slab, the article stress into the
concrete will be tension at the bottom surface. That tension is greatest directly under the center
of the loaded area and is given by the expression.

f y  0.316 [log h 2  4 log ( 1.6a 2  h 2  0.675h )  log k  6.48) (4.9)
Case 3: wheel load at an edge of a slab, but removed a considerable distance from a corner:

When the load is applied at a point along an edge of the slab, the critical tensile streets is at
the bottom of the concrete, directly under the load, and is equal to

fx  0.572 (log h 2  4 log 1.6a 2  h 2  0.675h )  log k  5.77]

In the event that the tensile stress in the slab, as given by Eqs. (4.7), (4.9) and (4.10)
exceeds the allowable tensile streets on the concrete, it is forcemeat. Such reinforcement is
usually designed to provide for the entire slab. Its centroid should be no closer to the neutral axis
than that of the tension concrete which is replaces.
Literature Review

Review of classical design theories—Design methods for slabs-on-grade are based on

theories originally developed for airport and highway pavements. Westergaard developed one of
the first rigorous theories of structural behavior of rigid pavement (Westergaard 1923, 1925,

This theory considers a homogeneous, isotropic, and elastic slab resting on an ideal
subgrade that exerts, at all points, a vertical reactive pressure proportional to slab deflection;
known as a Winkler subgrade . The subgrade acts as a linear spring with a proportionality
constant k with units of pressure (lb/in). 2 [kPa]) per unit deformation (in. [m]). The units are
commonly abbreviated as lb/in. 3 (kN/m3). This constant is defined as the modulus of subgrade

In the 1930s, the structural behaviors of concrete pavement slabs were investigated at the
Arlington Virginia Experimental Farm and at the Iowa State Engineering Experiment Station.
Good agreement occurred between experiential stresses and those computed by the
Westergaard’s theory, as long as the slab remained continuously supported by the subgrade.
Corrections were required only for the Westergaard corner formula to account for the effects of
slab curling and loss of contact with the subgrade. Although choosing the modulus of subgrade
reaction was essential for good agreement with respect to stresses, here remained ambiguity in
the methods used to determine the correction coefficient.

In the 1930s, experimental information showed that the behavior of many subgrades may
be close to that of an elastic and isotropic solid. Two characteristic constants—the modulus of
soil deformation and Poisson’s ratio—are typically used to evaluate the deformation response of
such solids. Based on the concept of the subgrade as an elastic and isotropic solid, and assuming
that the slab is of infinite extent but of finite thickness, Burmister proposed the layered-solid
theory of structural behavior for rigid pavements (Burmister1943). He suggested basing the
design on a criterion of limited deformation under load. Design procedures for rigid pavements
based on this theory are not sufficiently developed for use in engineering practice. The lack of
analogous solutions for slabs of finite extent, for example, edge and corner cases, is a particular
deficiency. Other approaches based on the assumption of a thin elastic slab of infinite extent
resting on an elastic, isotropic solid have been developed. The preceding theories are limited to
behavior in the linear range where deflections are proportional to applied loads. Lösberg
(Lösberg 1978; Pichumani 1973) later proposed a strength theory based on the yield-line concept
for ground-supported slabs, but the use of ultimate strength for slab-on-ground design is not
All existing design theories are grouped according to models that simulate slab and the
subgrade behavior. Three models used for slab analysis are:

 Elastic-isotropic solid;
 Thin elastic slab; and
 Thin elastic-plastic slab.

Two models used for subgrade are:

1. Elastic-isotropic solid; and

2. Winkler (1867).

The Winkler subgrade models the soil as linear springs so that the reaction is proportional
to the slab deflection. Existing design theories are based on various combinations of these
models. The methods in this guide are generally graphical, plotted from computer-generated
solutions of selected models. Design theories need not be limited to these combinations. The
elastic-isotropic model provides close prediction for the response of real soils, but the Winkler
model is widely used for design and a number of investigators have reported good agreement
between observed responses to the Winkler-based predictions.

Finite-element method

The classical differential equation of a thin elastic plate resting on an elastic subgrade is
often used to represent the slab-on-ground. Solving the governing equations by conventional
methods is feasible for simplified models where slab and subgrade are assumed to be continuous
and homogeneous. In reality, a slab-on-ground usually contains discontinuities, such as joints
and cracks, and the subgrade support may not be uniform. Thus, the use of this approach is

The finite-element method can be used to analyze slabs-on-ground, particularly those with
discontinuities. Various models have been proposed to represent the slab (Spears and Panarese
1983; Pichumani 1973). Typically, these models use combinations of elements, such as elastic
blocks, rigid blocks, and torsion bars, to represent the slab. The subgrade is typically modeled by
linear springs (Winkler subgrade) placed under the nodal joints. Whereas the finite-element
method offers good potential for complex problems, graphical solutions and simplified design
equations have been traditionally used for design. The evolution of modern computer software
has made modeling with finite elements more feasible in the design office setting.

Construction document information

Listed below is the minimum information that should be addressed in the construction
documents prepared by the designer. Refer to ACI 302.1R for information related to the
installation and construction for some of these items.
 Slab-on-ground design criteria;
 Base and subbase materials, preparation requirements, and vapor
retarder/barrier, when required;
 Concrete thickness;
 Concrete compressive strength, or flexural strength, or both;
 Concrete mixture proportion requirements, ultimate dry shrinkage strain, or
 Joint locations and details;
 Reinforcement (type, size, and location), when required;
 Surface treatment, when required;
 Surface finish;

Tolerances (base, subbase, slab thickness, and floor flatness and levelness);

 Concrete curing;
 Joint filling material and installation;
 Special embedments;
 Testing requirements; and
 Preconstruction meeting, quality assurance, and quality control.

Slab-on-ground design criteria

It is helpful that when the slab-on-ground design criteria are well established, that it be
shown on the drawings. This information is especially useful when future modifications are
made to the slab or its use. Design issues, such as the slab contributing to wind or seismic
resistance or building foundation uplift forces, would not be readily apparent unless noted on the
drawings. Because it is not readily apparent when a slab is used as a horizontal diaphragm, it
should be noted on the drawings. Removing or cutting a slab that is designed to resist uplift or
horizontal forces could seriously impair the building’s stability.

The design criteria should include some of the following:

 Geotechnical soil properties used for the different loading types;

 Uniform storage loading;
 Lift-truck and vehicle loadings;
 Rack loadings;
 Line loads;
 Equipment loads;
 When the slab is used to resist wind or seismic foundation uplift forces; &
 When the slab is used as a horizontal diaphragm and to resist horizontal
forces or both due to tilt-walls, masonry walls, tops of retaining walls, and
metal building system columns.
Further research

There are many areas that need additional research. Some of these areas are:

 Developing concrete mixture proportions that have low shrinkage characteristics

and are workable, finish able, and provide a serviceable surface;
 Flexural stress in slabs with curl and applied loads and how curling stresses
change over time due to creep;
 Base restraint due to shrinkage and other volume changes and how this restraint
changes over time;
 Crack widths for different amounts of reinforcement for slabs-on-ground;
 Provide guidance on acceptable joint and crack widths for different slab usages;
 Provide dowel recommendations based on loadings (lift truck, rack post, and
uniform storage) rather than slab thickness;
 Provide plate dowel spacing recommendations for plate dowel geometries;
 Provide design guidance for slabs with macro synthetic fibers;
 Provide design aids for slabs with rack uplift loads due to seismic and other uplift
 Provide design aids for slabs with non-uniform rack post loads;
 Develop a standardized method for testing and specifying slab surface abrasion
 Soil properties and how they may change over time under load repetitions, wide
area long-term loadings, orboth; and
 Recommended joint spacing for fiber-reinforced concrete.

Curling or warping—Out-of-plane deformation of the corners, edges, and surface of a

pavement, slab, or wall panel from its original shape.

Slab-on-ground––slab, supported by ground, which’s main purpose, is to support the

applied loads by bearing on the ground.

Some of the more important expectations that should be discussed for the prospective slab
type are:

 Cracking potential;
 Crack widths for slabs designed with reinforcement to limit crack widths;
 Use of doweled joints versus aggregate interlock;
 Possible future repairs including joint deterioration;
 Joint maintenance requirements and the owner's responsibility for this
 Floor flatness and levelness requirements to meet the owner’s needs;
 Changes to the flatness and levelness over time, especially in low-humidity
 Advantages and disadvantages of slab placement with the watertight roofing
system in place versus placing the slab in the open;
 Level of moisture vapor resistance required; and
 Advantages and disadvantages of using the building floor slab for tilt-wall
construction form and temporary bracing.

Slab types

There are four basic design choices for slab-on-grade construction:

a. Unreinforced concrete slab.

b. Slabs reinforced to limit crack widths due to shrinkage and temperature
restraint and applied loads. These slabsconsist of:
i. Nonprestressed steel bar, wire reinforcement, or fiber reinforcement,
all with closely spaced joints; and
ii. Continuously reinforced, free-of-sawcut, contraction joints.
c. Slabs reinforced to prevent cracking due to shrinkage and temperature
restraint and applied loads. These slabs consist of:
i.Shrinkage-compensating concrete; and
d. Structural slabs designed in accordance with ACI 318:
i.Plain concrete; and
ii.Reinforced concrete.
Fig- Slab support system terminology.

The figure-1 shows the displacement against corner loading for a 15’x15’ square slab. The
values of displacement for the nodes along the edge are plotted here. It can be seen here that the
value of displacement increases as the distance of the nodes increases from the corner. The graph
shows that curve is continuously upward up to a certain distance and then it goes horizontal.
Then the values of displacement go almost the same.

The figure-2 shows the displacement of the nodes, very next to the edge line. It is also for a
15’x15’ square plate. The curve is almost same to the curve for displacement of the nodes along
the edge.

The figure-3 shows the displacement against edge loading for a 15’x15’ square slab. The
values of displacement for the nodes along the edge are plotted here. The values represent a V
shape. It can be seen here that the value of displacement decreases as the distance of the nodes
increases from the corner. The graph shows that curve is continuously downward up to a certain
distance and after the minimum value, it goes upward. The values of displacement are nearly
equal but opposite.

The figure -4 shows the displacement of the nodes, very next to the edge line. It is also for
a 15’x15’ square plate. The curve is almost same to the curve for displacement of the nodes
along the edge, but it is not so sharp at the bottom as like as the curve of the fig-3.
Node displacement of 15’x15’slab

Vertical Vertical
Distance L/C Node Y in Node Y in
0 Corner + SW 1 -0.029 7 -0.023
1 Corner + SW 5 -0.023 6 -0.018
2 Corner + SW 8 -0.017 9 -0.014
3 Corner + SW 10 -0.012 11 -0.01
4 Corner + SW 12 -0.009 13 -0.007
5 Corner + SW 14 -0.006 15 -0.005
6 Corner + SW 16 -0.004 17 -0.004
7 Corner + SW 18 -0.003 19 -0.003
8 Corner + SW 20 -0.0025 21 -0.002
9 Corner + SW 22 -0.002 23 -0.002
10 Corner + SW 24 -0.002 25 -0.002
11 Corner + SW 26 -0.002 27 -0.002
12 Corner + SW 28 -0.002 29 -0.002
13 Corner + SW 30 -0.002 31 -0.002
14 Corner + SW 32 -0.002 33 -0.002
15 Corner + SW 2 -0.002 34 -0.002