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# A Procedure for Determining Maximum and Minimum Dimensions for a Singly Reinforced Rectangular Concrete Beam Loaded to its

Flexural Capacity.
By T. B. Quimby UAA Civil Engineering Department Spring 2004

RC beam strength is primarily a function of width (b), height (h), and the amount of reinforcing (As). There is an infinite combination of these three variables that will result in a beam that exactly satisfies that flexural strength requirement: Mu < Mn (Eq. 1)

This equation can be expanded, for the case of a singly reinforced rectangular section (or a section that can be treated as such) in which the steel yields to:
As f y M u As f y d 2(.85 f c)b

(Eq. 2)

Note that d (the effective depth of the steel) is a function of the height, h. To obtain a particular strength of beam, it can be observed that increases in As allow a decrease in the size parameters, b and d, and vice versa. Consequently, determining the size (b x h) of a section can be determined by substituting into equation (2) a value/expression for As that represents the steel condition that we are interested in designing for. There are three cases that are of particular interest: 1. The maximum As which will minimize b and h 2. The minimum As which will maximize b and h 3. The maximum As which will minimize b and h and for which deflections are not likely to be a problem. If we can write expressions for As for each case, the we can substitute the expressions into equation (2) and solve for relationship for b and d which can be extended to be a relationship for b and h. Minimum Size Beams For this case we want to increase As and still keep the beam tension controlled (ACI 318-02, 10.3.3 and 10.3.4). This will be the As that results in a tensile strain of 0.005

## RC Beam Sizing, 1/31/2008

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when the beam is fully loaded (i.e. Mu = Mn ). To develop this expression, we use the beam cross section and strain diagram shown in Figure 1. Note that, in order to solve the equilibrium equations for the pure flexure condition, Ts must equal Cc. Writing expressions for both we get:

Ts = As f y = C c = .85 f cAc

(eq. 3)

## Figure 1 Beam Diagrams

Note that by setting the strain in the concrete to 0.003 and the strain in the steel to 0.005 this dictates that c = 0.375d. We also know that a = 1c = 1(.375d) and Ac = ba. Substituting these observations into equation (3) gives us an expression for As in the two unknowns, b and d, that we can substitute into equation (2):

.85 f c (0.375)bd As = f 1 y
Maximum Size Beams

(eq. 4)

For this case, As is controlled by ACI 318-02 10.5.1. The expression, when modified to include the limiting state becomes:

## RC Beam Sizing, 1/31/2008

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As =

max(200,3 f c )
fy

bd

(eq. 5)

Like equation (4) this is an expression for As in terms of the two size variables, b and d. Substituting equation (5) into equation (2) will yield a relationship between b and d that will result in the largest effective cross sectional size.
Minimum Beam Size for Which Deflections are NOT LIKELY to be a Problem.

Increasing As while maintaining a given strength, Mn , results in a smaller overall beam size and a smaller moment of inertia. This results in increased deflection, or stiffness, of the final beam. A rule of thumb for designing a section so that it is large enough so that it is not likely to have deflection problems is to limit the neutral axis depth, c, to about 0.375 of that of the neutral axis location, cb, for the balanced condition. For the balanced condition, the steel strain is exactly equal to its yield strain (fy/Es = fy/29,000,000, units in psi). From a strain diagram and using similar triangles, this yields:
c defl 0.375cb = 0.375 87,000d 87,000 + f y

(eq. 6)

Using the same procedure and logic as was used to develop As for the minimum size beam, we obtain the following expression for As:
.85 f c 0.375(87,000) bd As = f 1 87,000 + f y y (eq. 7)

Like equations (4) and (5) this is an expression for As in terms of the two size variables, b and d. Substituting equation (7) into equation (2) will yield a relationship between b and d that will result in the smallest effective cross sectional size for which deflection are not likely to be a problem.
Putting It All Together

Making the substitutions for As into equation (2) as indicated above and simplifying the resulting expressions yields the following relationships for the size variables, b and d. For the SMALLEST BEAM SIZE: bd 2 Mu (eq. 8)

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## For the LARGEST EFFECTIVE BEAM SIZE:

bd 2 Mu max(200,3 f c ) max(200,3 f c )1 2(.85 f c)

(eq. 9)

For the SMALLEST BEAM SIZE NOT LIKELY TO HAVE DEFLECTION PROBLEMS: bd 2 Mu .375(87,000) 1 0.375(87,000) 1 1 (.85 f c) 1 87,000 + f 2 87,000 + f y y (eq. 10)

## Now What Do We Do?

The above relationships establish a relationship that you can use to guide you in selecting b and h for the beam you are designing. You first need to decide which criteria (smallest, largest, smallest w/o deflection problems) that you want to guide your design. Next you need to solve the appropriate equation for your condition. The next step is to use the resulting solution to guide you in selecting b and h. One common way of doing this are to establish an approximate relationship between b and d (say let d = 1.5b) then solve for the two variables. Another method is to build a table with a column of b values and the another with the corresponding d values. To determine h, add an appropriate estimated value to d for the distance from the center of the steel group (which you have not yet selected) and the tension face of the beam. Finally, select a b and h that is reasonably close to your results and satisfies other limitations on beam dimensions. All this work, and all you have is a b and h. You still need to select the steel for the beam. This can be done by using equation (2). Estimate d, then substitute your values for b and d into the equation and solve the quadratic for As. Be sure to maintain the inequality sign so that you will know what way to go when you select real bars to put in the beam. Finally select real bars and accurately place them in a scaled drawing of your cross section, making sure that all spacing and cover requirements are met. Then, ignoring all prior calculations, compute the actual Mn for the beam that you drew and show that it is greater than Mu. If it does not satisfy equation (1), then find someway to adjust As, b, or h so that equation (1) is satisfied. Your final result should be an accurate scaled drawing/sketch and a calculation that shows that all the limit states and criteria have been met.

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## RC Beam Size Selection

ACI 318-02 by T.B. Quimby 2/4/2004 Mu phi 253.3 ft-k 0.9 f'c fy Beta1 3000 psi 60000 psi 0.85

Use approximation equations to select a b and h Smallest Defl control Largest Required bd^2 4942.9 7751.9 17575.9 use b 12 14 18 computed d 20.30 23.53 31.25 cov + bar 2.88 2.88 2.88 est. h 23.17 26.41 34.12 Suggested h 24 27 36 Actual h 24 27 34 h/b 2.00 1.93 2.00

in^3 in in in in in in

Compute a required area of steel estimated d 21.13 24.13 31.13 in Quad:a 52941.1765 45378.1513 35294.1176 Note, these are quadratic coefficients Quad:b -1140750 -1302750 -1680750 to be used in the quadratic Quad:c 3039600 3039600 3039600 equation Strength Req'd As 3.11 2.56 1.88 in^2 ACI 10.5.1 Req'd As 0.85 1.13 1.87 in^2 Req'd As 3.11 2.56 1.88 in^2 Select the actual bars and compute the actual strength and other limiting criteria Actual Bars: (4) #8 (2) #10 (2) #9 Actual As 3.16 2.54 2.00 in^2 Actual d 21.63 24.63 31.63 in Actual pMn 263.5 257.1 272.9 ft-k Mu/pMn 96% 99% 93% 99% OK N.A. location 7.29 5.02 3.08 in Steel Strain 0.00590 0.01171 0.02785 ACI 10.3.3 85% 43% 18% 85% OK ACI 10.5.1 27% 45% 95% 95% OK Approximate weight 300.0 393.8 675.0 lbs/ft