How Strong is Concrete in Tension? A Comprehensive Guide

Concrete is a widely used material in construction due to its high compressive strength. However, its tensile strength is significantly lower than its compressive strength, which means that it is not suitable for structures that are subject to tension. Ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) has a tensile strength of 1,700 psi, while traditional concrete generally measures between 300 and 700 psi. When tensile forces are applied to concrete, the microscopic cracks in its body lengthen and eventually cause it to break down.

This is why concrete is not suitable for structures that are subject to tension. However, it is very good at supporting enormous amounts of weight, so it is used to support buildings and structures. The tensile and compressive strengths of concrete are not proportional, and an increase in compressive strength is accompanied by an appreciably smaller percentage increase in tensile strength. According to the ACI Code Commentary, the tensile strength of normal weight concrete in bending is approximately 10% to 15% of the compressive strength.

When assessing the strength of concrete, there are different ways to access it. Concrete achieves different qualities with different strength properties to become an ideal solution in various use cases. Methods and equipment for concrete production are continually being modernized, and test methods and data interpretation are also updated and become more sophisticated. Compressive strength is a widely accepted measure to access the performance of a given concrete mix.

It accurately tells you whether or not a particular mixture is suitable to meet the requirements of a specific project. Concrete can excellently withstand compressive load, which is why it is suitable for building arches, columns, dams, foundations and tunnel linings. The compressive strength of concrete is determined with cylindrical specimens made of fresh concrete and tested in compression at different ages. Size and shape can also affect the indicated strength.

Additional tests are conducted to obtain detailed information on the competence of force development. Typically, the compressive strength of concrete ranges from 2500 psi (17 MPa) to 4000 psi (28 MPa) and more in residential and commercial structures. Several applications also use strengths greater than 10,000 psi (70 MPa). The tensile strength of concrete is its ability to resist cracking or breaking under stress.

While concrete is rarely loaded under pure pressure into a structure, tensile strength needs to be determined to understand the extent of potential damage. Breakage and cracking occur when tensile forces exceed strength. Compared to ultra-high performance concrete, traditional concrete has relatively high compressive strength compared to tensile strength, which is significantly lower. Knowledge about the tensile strength of concrete is increasing due to its importance in managing potential cracking. However, testing the tensile strength of concrete is somewhat complicated; in fact, there is no field test for direct judgment.

However, indirect methods such as division are very useful. Studies indicate that the tensile strength of traditional concrete varies between 300 and 700 psi, which means that on average tension averages about 10% of the compressive strength. Bending strength establishes concrete's ability to resist bending. It is an indirect measure of tensile strength. Various structures such as pavements, slabs and beams are subject to bending or bending when loaded in the center and supported on the ends.

Its lower fibers are in tension while the upper ones are in compression. If this beam is built with concrete, it will experience tensile failure in the lower fibers because the concrete has a weaker stress. However, the inclusion of some steel bars in the lower region will maintain a more significant load since reinforcing steel has a high tensile strength. In fact, if the reinforcing steel is prestressed in the concrete, the beam will still be strong. Depending on the specific concrete mix, flexural strength should ideally be between 10% and 15% of compressive strength. Sometimes even foreign substances make their way into the mixture which affects its strength; therefore eliminating elements that do not apply and considering significant ones is an essential step in achieving desired strength. Proper inspection also ensures that there are no variations that affect the strength of the concrete. At Big D Ready Mix Concrete we specialize in everything related to concrete. Our experience and expertise make us one of the leading suppliers of ready-mix concrete in Texas; customers trust our products and services. We understand that for the success of any project, the strength properties of concrete are of utmost importance; knowledge of these and what each one can do for the project is key when choosing the right mix. You can also leave your information to request a free quote and we will get in touch as soon as possible.