by Sharon L. Wood
Results of 143 tests of lowrise reinforced concrete walls subjected to viewed to identify the sensitivity of the measured shear
lateral loads were reviewed to evaluate the current design provisions strength to experimental parameters, such as the load
for nominal shear strength. Procedures defined in Appendix A of
ACI 31883 were found to underestimate the strength of lightly rein
ing history and the amount of web reinforcement.
forced walls and tended to overestimate the strength of walls with
more than 1.5 times the minimum web reinforcement ratio. A rea
sonable lower bound to the shear strength of lowrise walls with min MODELS FOR SHEAR IN REINFORCED
imum web reinforcement was found to be 6Jf; (Jf; 12 MPa). The CONCRETE MEMBERS
shear strength of the walls was observed to increase with an increase The truss analogy was developed around the turn of
in the amount of vertical reinforcement in the web and boundary ele the century6·7 as a means of relating the applied shear to
ments. A shear friction model was used to evaluate the shear strength the tensile stresses in the web reinforcement of a rein
provided by the vertical reinforcement.
forced concrete beam. The beam is idealized as a truss,
as shown in Fig. 1. The bottom chord of the truss is
Keywords: friction; lateral pressure; models; reinforced concrete; shear strength;
shear stress; structural design; tests; walls; web reinforcement.
formed by the longitudinal reinforcement, the top
chord by the concrete in the compression zone, the ten
sion web members by the stirrups, and the compression
The nominal shear strength of reinforced concrete
web members by concrete in the web of the beam. The
walls designed to resist seismic loads is defined in cur
angle between the longitudinal axis and the compres
rent design provisions 1 to be essentially the same as the
sion struts is typically assumed to be 45 deg. If the web
nominal shear strength of reinforced concrete beams
reinforcement is vertical, the relationship between the
that are designed to resist gravity loads. Two quantities
average shear stress in the beam v and the tensile stress
are used to define the nominal shear strength of both
in the web reinforcement fv may be written as
types of members, one attributed to the contribution of
the web reinforcement and the other to the contribu
tion of the concrete. This procedure has been defined as v = rfv {1)
the modified truss analogy. 2
The applicability of the modified truss analogy for where r is the web reinforcement ratio. However, lab
lowrise structural walls subjected to earthquakein oratory tests indicated that the stresses developed in the
duced loads has been questioned in discussions of the transverse reinforcement were less than those calcu
ACI Building Code 3•5 and is evaluated in this paper. lated using Eq. (1). 8 Two possible sources of this dis
The results of 143 laboratory tests of one and two crepancy were identified: 8 (1) the uncracked concrete in
story reinforced concrete walls subjected to lateral loads the compression zone at the top of the beam carries a
were considered. portion of the vertical shear, and (2) the assumption of
45 deg as the direction of the diagonal compression
RESEARCH SIGNIFICANCE struts in the web is incorrect. Richart8 investigated the
Reinforced concrete walls are frequently used as the influence of varying the angle of inclination of the di
primary component of the lateral loadresisting system agonal compression struts but found that the measured
in buildings located in regions of high seismic risk. The tensile stresses in the web reinforcement were more
current design provisions for shear strength of struc
tural walls, however, are based on analytical methods ACI Structural Journal, V. 87, No. I, JanuaryFebruary 1990.
that were developed to represent the shear strength of Received Aug. 17, 1988, and reviewed under Institute publication policies.
Copyright © 1990, American Concrete Institute. All rights reserved, including
beams subjected to monotonically increasing load. The the making of copies unless permission is obtained from the copyright propri
etors. Pertinent discussion will be published in the NovemberDecember 1990
results of 143 laboratory tests of lowrise walls are re ACI Structural Journal if received by July I, 1990.
p
Compression Strut Compression Chord
(Concrete)
V Chord
Tension Tie
(Vertical Web Reinforcement) v
Fig. 1 Truss model for a reinforced concrete beam
100 ACI Structural Journal I JanuaryFebruary 1990
120r~~~
(/) (/)
z zw
w
::t ::t
(J 80 (J
w 80
w
a.
(/)
a.
(/)
LL.. LL..
0 0
0::
w 40 0::
w 40
Ill Ill
::t ::t
::::> ::::>
z z
Barbell Flanged Rectangular Monotonic Alternating Repeated
LL..
40 LL..
40
0 0
0:: 0::
w 20 w 20
Ill Ill
::t ~
::::> ::::>
z z
0
0 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 5.0 6.0 7.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0
(c) (d)
M
WEB THICKNESS, in.
Vfw
Fig. 2Characteristics of population of lowrise walls (1 in. = 25.4 mm)
mens were isolated walls; (b) the lateral load was ap 1.0 for more than 75 percent of the test specimens [Fig.
plied statically in the plane of the wall; (c) the walls 2(d)]. Axial load, in addition to the selfweight of the
were reported to have failed in shear; and (d) horizon walls, was applied to 18 specimens with the average ax
tal and vertical reinforcement was distributed uni ial stress PIA varying from 7 to 18 percent off:. The
formly throughout the web. Sixtyfour walls consid average axial stress was less than 0.5 percent off: in
ered in this study are documented in a compilation of the remaining 125 specimens.
data from tests performed in Japan. 14 Walls tested in Concrete compressive strengths ranged from 1990 to
Canada, 15 Japan, 16 •17 New Zealand, 18 and the United 7070 psi (13.7 to 48.7 MPa). Approximately onethird
States 1928 were also considered.* of the specimens [Fig. 3(a)] were constructed from con
The cross sections of all walls were symmetric. crete with a compressive strength less than 3000 psi
Flanged, barbell, and rectangular cross sections were (20_7 MPa) The yield stress of the distributed web re
tested [Fig. 2(a)]. Three loading schemes were used inforcement [Fig. 3(b)] varied between 39.3 and 82.9 ksi
[Fig. 2(b)]: (a) monotonicthe specimen was subjected (280 to 570 MPa). Horizontal web reinforcement ratios
to a monotonically increasing load; (b) repeatedthe ranged from 0.07 to 1.9 percent [Fig. 4(a)], and the
specimen was loaded in one direction, unloaded, and vertical web reinforcement ratios ranged from 0.07 to
reloaded in the same direction; and (c) alternatingthe 2.9 percent [Fig. 4(b)]. Horizontal and vertical web re
specimen was subjected to load reversals. Sixteen of the inforcement ratios differed by less than 10 percent in 90
specimens had two stories. percent of the walls. The vertical web reinforcement
Web thicknesses ranged from 0.4 to 6.3 in. (1.0 to was continuous along the height of the wall. Specimens
16.0 em). More than 75 percent of the walls [Fig. 2(c)] with dowels into the foundation were not considered in
had web thicknesses between 1.0 and 4.0 in. (2.5 to 10.0 this study.
em). The shear span ratio M/Vfw was between 0.5 and Longitudinal reinforcement ratios in the boundary
elements varied from 0 to 8.9 percent [Fig. 4(c)]. Spec
*The physical characteristics and measured capacities of the 143 test speci imens with boundary reinforcement ratios equal to zero
mens are summarized in three appendixes that because of space limitations are
not presented here but will be kept permanently on file at ACI headquarters
were rectangular walls with uniformly distributed ver
where photocopies will be available at cost of reproduction and handling. tical web reinforcement along the entire length of the
ACI Structural Journal I JanuaryFebruary 1990 101
(/) (/)
z zw
w
~ ~
8
a..
40 8a.. 40
(/) (/)
1.&.. 1.&..
0 0
Q:: 20 Q:: 20
w w
m m
~ ~
:::> :::>
z z
2000 40 50 60 70 80 90
(a) f~, psi (b)
Fig. 3Material properties: (a) compressive strength of concrete; (b) yield stress of vertical web reinforcement (1 psi
= 6895 Pa; 1 ksi = 6.895 MPa)
(/) (/)
z z
w w
:::E :::E
sa.. 40 (3
w
a..
(/)
(/)
1.&.. 1.&..
0 0
Q::
w
20 0::::
w
m m
~ :::E
::::> ::::>
z z
o~~~~~~~~~~~~~
0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0
(a) (c)
ph. % Pbe' %
Fig. 4(c)Reinforcement ratios in web and boundary
elements
(/)
z mum lateral load Vmax divided by A"" where A"' is the
w
~ effective area of the concrete section (t x fw).
sa.. 40 The maximum average shear stress is plotted against
the product of the minimum web reinforcement ratio
(/)
I
+
.o
REF. 19
REF. 10
rv*REF.
REF. 6
17
J** REF. 13
c REF. 32
I VIEB 'THICKNESS
t < 1.0 ln. 1.0 ' t < 3.0 ln. t ~ J.O n.
0 REF. 5 x REF. 21,24 REF. 26 I + I • I c I
1200 1200
'e0..n
+
+ +
• ·en +
+ 0..
:to+ t.
800 800 + •
x + +
xc
>
0
E +
:;: +
.+
... +
+
>E .
t
+
~ ++
400 400
0 o~~~2~0~0~4~0~0~6~0~0~80~0~100~0
400 600
(a) Pnfy. psi (b) Pnfy. psi
.. I o I + I
1200
Values of maximum average shear stress ranged from t
5.6.JJ[ to 23.6.JJ[ (0.47.Jl[ to 1.97.Jl[ MPa) (Fig. 6). ·en
0..
The data indicate that a reasonable lower bound to the 800
x0
observed unit shear strength of the walls is 6.JJ[ (.J.1[12 E
> +
MPa). The lower bound to the observed strength did
not appear to be related to the amount of web rein 400
forcement. The two walls that failed in shear before at
taining a unit shear strength of 6.JJ[ were subjected to
monotonically increasing loads. 0 o~~2o~o~4o~o~6o~o~8o~o~1oo~o
~.
. ... . : .
.......•
3.0 1200

>
.• ·' • •
..·.• . ... ·..
c: 'iii
..
Q.
X
a. I•
~ +
>~
2.0
•••
• •lol • •
6.. • E
x0 BOO
. • .•. . • • .
..
• • • .. I• •,
N
1.0
•... .r.. I". J •
1
.c
 .. ~"i. o i]:T .: ;·'!
>
400 ...
t·•!.llf•, . ...
~ • .A• •
••••
. .... : . .. .
••
3.0 1.0
·'.·..: .:
.••.·...• :•
"•/Ill
.• f. . •'
'••• . ••. .
~···
1.0
0
•
~..
lol
•t
... _ .
0
I
0
•
0
o
I
•••
,.
I
I
I
•
.. . . .
.. ..• . .
. l ·~·:·.
.\ .•..
., : «·.·
• •
,__               a..    •
Fig. 8 Variation of the ratio of measured shear Fig. 10 Variation of the ratio of measured shear
strength to nominal shear strength with the amount of strength to shear strength calculated using the shear
web reinforcement (I psi = 6895 Pa) friction analogy with the amount of vertical reinforce
ment (I psi = 6895 Pa)
visions in Appendix A of ACI 31883. Assigning a the walls failed by sliding along a horizontal crack at
nominal unit shear strength of 6.Jl: (.JJ:12 MPa) to all the base. The shear friction analogy31 •32 may be used to
walls with minimum distributed web reinforcement ra calculate the shear strength for this failure condition.
tios (Fig. 6) is a simple alternative to the modified truss The nominal shear strength vnsf is expressed as I
analogy for the design of lowrise walls.
The large variation in the ratio vmw!.Jl: indicates that V = p,Avfh (7)
additional parameters influence the strength of the nsf Acv
walls. One possible explanation for the increased
strength of some walls is discussed in the following sec where p, is a coefficient related to friction and Av1 is the
tion. area of steel crossing the shear plane. The value of p,
was assumed to be 1.0 for all the walls. Different sizes
SHEAR FRICTION MODEL and grades of reinforcing bars were used in the bound
Experimental investigations of deep beams have been ary elements and web of the walls; therefore, Av1J;, was
interpreted to suggest that the shear strength is related evaluated as
to the amount of horizontal reinforcement (longitudi
nal and web), provided that a minimum amount of (8)
vertical web reinforcement is available. 29 •30 Based on
these observations, the shear strength of lowrise walls where A,be is the area of longitudinal steel in one
may be related to the total amount of vertical rein boundary element; J;,be is the yield stress of the steel in
forcement. the boundary element; A,.., is the area of vertical rein
An estimate of the shear strength provided by the forcement in the web; and hv is the yield stress of the
vertical reinforcement was obtained by assuming that vertical reinforcement in the web.
104 ACI Structural Journal I JanuaryFebruary 1990
Consistently with the results from the deep beam 1.0 for all but two walls. The ratio was between 1.0 and
tests, the maximum average shear stress in the walls was 2.0 for 83 percent of the walls considered.
observed to increase with an increase in the amount of Comparisons of the maximum average shear stress
vertical reinforcement (Fig. 9). The ratio VmaJv"sf is with the nominal shear strength calculated using the
plotted versus Av1f/ Acv in Fig. 10. The nominal shear ACI provisions 1 and Eq. (9) are shown in the histo
stress attributed to shear friction overestimated the grams in Fig. 12. The nominal shear capacity defined in
maximum average shear stress in all but 10 walls; how Eq. (9) provides a better representation of the shear
ever, a good estimate of the lower bound to the maxi strength of the test specimens. Eq. (9) provides a con
mum average shear stress was provided by vnj4. The servative estimate of the nominal shear strength that
presence of inclined cracks in the wall and the applied may be used to proportion lowrise walls to resist lat
bending moments are the likely reasons for the overes eral loads.
timation of shear strength using the shear friction anal
ogy. SUMMARY
An investigation of 143 lowrise walls indicated that
ALTERNATIVE DESIGN PROVISIONS Eq. (6) from Appendix A of ACI 31883 underesti
The data plotted in Fig. 6 and 10 indicate that two mates the nominal shear strength of lightly reinforced
simple equations may be used during design to estimate walls and may overestimate the nominal shear strength
the shear strength of lowrise walls. The lower bound to of walls with more than 1.5 times the minimum web re
the strength of all walls considered was well repre inforcement ratio of 0.25 percent.
sented by 6.Jl[ (.JJ[12 MPa), as shown in Fig. 6. The A reasonable lower bound to the average shear stress
limit of 6.JJ[ (.JJ[ 12 MPa) was independent of the resisted by test specimens with distributed web rein
amount of web reinforcement and the type of loading.
The strength of walls with large amounts of vertical
reinforcement appeared to be bounded by Vn/4 (Fig.
10). Therefore, the nominal shear strength of lowrise
3.0
walls may be approximated by
::, . .J
0 0 •
a .
XI "'2" ·~=·
Vn Eq. (9) = 6.JJ[ (.JJ[ 12 MPa) E 2.0
.. ...
> >
••:· ~· •• :• •
the nominal capacity may be (9)
1.0
~.
: ~
; • ll
;:. ... . =• .
: .. • I
~. _._ .. _                ..      
•
mcrease Avfh
d to  
4Acv
but shall not exceed 10.JJ[ (5.JJ[ 16 MPa) 0.0 '~'~~~~~~''
0 200 400 600 800 1000
Pnfy. psi
The nominal shear strength calculated using Eq. (9)
provided a conservative estimate of the maximum av Fig. 11 Variation of the ratio of measured shear
erage shear stress for the entire range of reinforcement strength to shear strength calculated using Eq. (9) with
ratios (Fig. 11). The ratio VmaJv. Eq. <9> was greater than the amount of web reinforcement (1 psi = 6895 Pa)
en en
z z
w
~
40 w
~
40
C3 C3
w w
en 30
0..
en 30
0..
LL LL
0 20 0 20
a:: a::
w
w
~ 10 ~ 10
::J ::J
z z
0 1.1.L.1
0.0 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0
Vmax Vmax

vn veq.9
Fig. 12Comparison of the measured shear strength with the nominal shear strength3 and the shear strength calcu
lated using Eq. (9)
ACI Structural Journal I JanuaryFebruary 1990 105
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