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Durability Perspective in Codes of Practice for Design of Reinforced Concrete Structures

Working Paper for E-conference on Durability of Concrete hosted by The Structural Engineers Forum of India (SEFI)

Kunal D. Kansara
SEFI Member

indirect actions, environmental conditions and consequential

I. DURABILITY PERSPECTIVE IN CODES OF PRACTICE effects (e.g. deformations due to creep and shrinkage)
It is observed that durability definition is of great considered [4], [6]. The corrosion protection of steel
significance towards service life and strength assessments as reinforcement is assumed to depend on density, quality and
a part of any management system for structures. Almost all thickness of concrete cover and cracking. The cover density
design codes specify that structures should be designed for and quality is achieved by controlling the maximum w/c ratio
some minimum design life. However, they do not provide and minimum cement content and may be related to a
any sound basis for ensuring this criterion. Traditionally, this minimum strength class of concrete.
criterion is based on some deem-to-satisfy rules, such as
minimum cement content, maximum water/cement ratio, II. CONCRETE-ENVIRONMENT INTERACTION
crack width limitation, permeability, cement type and 1) Concrete-Environment Interaction in Indian Code
coatings on concrete, etc., which are intended to provide In the Indian code, concrete-environment interaction has
resistance against the factors having tendency to reduce the been grouped under three heads, viz. concrete in general
durability of the structure. With such rules, it is merely environment, concrete in aggressive environment and
assumed that a structure will be performing above minimum concrete in sea water, as shown in Fig. 1. The general
requirements for some period of time. However, they do not durability format for all these three groups is to satisfy some
present a clear definition for service life. In this working deem-to-satisfy rules in addition to load design
paper, the durability perspectives as seen through the Indian specifications. In Fig. 1, LDS refers to load design
code and the Euro code are discussed. specifications and DTSR refers to deem-to-satisfy-rule
specifications. The actual deem-to-satisfy rules as specified in
1) Durability Definition in Indian Code the Indian Code can be arranged in five distinct groups to
Like many other codes, the Indian code IS:456(2000) [1] is understand the actual pattern of how durability has been
also primarily a load design code for concrete structures and incorporated in the design specifications and are described in
durability requirements are provided in the form of deem- Fig. 1. The first amongst them specifies DTSR for general
to-satisfy rules. It defines durable concrete as the one that durability requirements and the remaining provide additional
performs satisfactorily in the working environment during its specifications for the conditions over and above that
anticipated exposure conditions during service. Permeability considered in the first group. DTSR : Groups II and III
of concrete is believed to be one of the main characteristics provide specifications for environmental conditions including
that influence the concrete durability to a significant extent. It freeze-thaw action and sulphate attack respectively. DTSR
suggests further that a suitably low permeability can be Groups IV and V provide specifications for concrete placed
achieved by having adequate cement content, sufficiently low in aggressive soils and water and concrete placed in sea-water
free water/cement (w/c) ratio, ensuring complete compaction respectively.
and adequate curing. In particular, following factors are
considered influencing concrete durability : Environment, 2) Concrete-Environment Interaction in Euro Code
Cover to embedded steel, Type and quality of constituent Though core objectives and basic philosophy for achieving
materials, Cement content and w/c ratio, Workmanship to so-called concrete durability is the same in both the Euro
obtain full compaction and efficient curing and Shape and Code and Indian Code, the Euro Code has an integrated
size of the member. procedure of deriving environment and bond requirements in
achieving it as seen from Fig. 2. The final output of the
2) Durability Definition in Euro Code process is to obtain minimum required cover, maximum w/c
As mentioned earlier, most concrete codes worldwide ratio, minimum cement content in concrete and minimum
employ deem-to-satisfy-rules for accounting durability grade of concrete to be used. As seen form Fig. 2, there are
requirements and the Euro Code 2 (2005) [2], [3] also follows three major variables considered, viz. structural class,
the same kind of guidelines. It defines the durable structure as exposure class and strength class. It is to be noted that the
the one which meets the requirements of serviceability, structural class and the strength class are assumed to be
strength and stability, throughout its design working life, dependent upon the exposure class, and hence two matrices
without significant loss of utility or excessive unforeseen namely basic nominal cover requirement matrix and
maintenance. With this definition, the durability perspective indicative strength requirement matrix are formulated [4].
in the Indian Code is same as that in the Euro Code. It is The former matrix links structural class with exposure class
further specified in the Euro Code that the required protection
of the structure shall be established by considering its
These two matrices are synthesized from the criteria specified in the Euro
intended use, design working life, maintenance programme code [2] for better visualization of process flow by Kansara et al [4] and not
and actions, with the possible significance of direct and available as it is in [2].
and the later matrix relates strength class with the exposure [2]. EN 1992 Euro Code 2, Design of Concrete Structures, European
Committee for Standardization (CEN), Brussels, Belgium.
class. After selecting these two parameters (i.e. applicable
basic nominal cover and applicable strength class), further [3]. CEB Design Guide, Durable Concrete Structures, 1995, Thomas Telford
modifications are applied on it to account for different design Publications for Comite Euro-Internationald Du Beton (CEB),
Lausanne, Switzerland.
life, slab geometry, special quality control measures and
casting situations of the concrete. Modifications to account [4]. Kunal D. Kansara, K. Ramanjaneyulu and Balthasar Novak, Evaluation
for using grade of concrete higher than specified in indicated of Durability Criteria towards Servicelife Estimation of Bridges, SERC
Research Report No. RCS-CLP00341-RR-07-02, Structural
strength class and air entrainment are also performed. After Engineering Research Centre, Chennai, India, 2007.
arriving at the modified minimum required cover and
[5]. DIN-EN206-1 (2000), Concrete Part 1 - Specification, Performance,
employed strength class of concrete, country specific Production and Conformity, German Standard (in Deutsche), Brussels,
modifications (e.g. [5]) are permitted to make. Belgium.
[6]. Kunal D. Kansara and K. Ramanjaneyulu, Durability Perspective of
Concrete Structures in Codes of Practice, Proceedings of the National
III. REFERENCES conference on Current Trends in Technology (NUCONE), December
2008, Ahmedabad, India.
[1]. IS:456(2000), Indian Standard Code of Practice for Plain and
Reinforced Concrete, Bureau of Indian Standard, New Delhi, India.

Concrete in Non Concrete in Abrasive

Abrasive Environment Specialist Literature


Mild, Moderate, Severe, Very Severe, Extreme

Concrete in General Concrete in Concrete in Sea-

Environment Aggressive Soils and water

General Environment General Environment General Environment

with Freezing- with Sulphate Attack
Thawing Possibility Possibility


+ + + +
+ DTSR : Group I DTSR : Group I DTSR : Group I DTSR : Group I

+ + + +
DTSR : Group I DTSR : Group II DTSR : Group III DTSR : Group IV DTSR : Group V
Shape Air Entraining Cement Type Drainage Special Min
Size Admixture Restriction Protective Concrete Grade
Cover Compensatory Special Mix Aprons Avoid Porous
Mix Proportion Higher Concrete Proportion Materials
Mix Constituents Grade Protective Aprons Precast
Workmanship Preference
Joint Restriction

Fig. 2 Concrete-Environment Interaction Indian Code Perspective (Starts Here)


Fig. 1 Concrete-Environment Interaction as Perceived from Indian Code (Starts Here)

DTSR : Shape and Size

Shape and size details of exposed structures should be such as to promote good drainage of water and to avoid standing
pools and rundown of water.
Member profiles and their intersections with other members shall be designed and detailed in a way to ensure easy flow of
concrete and proper compaction during concreting.
Concrete is more vulnerable to deterioration due to chemical or climatic attack when it is in thin sections, in sections under
hydrostatic pressure and at corners and edges of elements. The life of the structure can be lengthened by providing extra
cover to steel, chamfering the corners or using circular cross-sections or using surface coatings which prevent or reduce the
ingress of water, carbon dioxide or aggressive chemicals.

DTSR : Cover

Minimum nominal cover (Cn) shall be determined using the following algorithm :

DTSR : Mix Proportion


Min. Cement Content Max. Min. Cement Content Max.
Environment Min. Min.
(kg/m3) Free (kg/m3) Free
Severity Concrete Concrete
For Different Aggregate W/C For Different Aggregate W/C
Level Grade Grade
Size (mm) Ratio Size (mm) Ratio
10 20 40 10 20 40
Mild 260 220 190 0.60 --- 340 300 270 0.55 M20
Moderate 280 240 210 0.60 M15 340 300 270 0.50 M25
Severe 290 250 220 0.50 M20 360 320 290 0.45 M30
V Severe 300 260 230 0.45 M20 380 340 310 0.45 M35
Extreme 320 280 250 0.40 M25 400 360 330 0.40 M40
Cement content (not including fly ash and ground granulated blast furnace slag) in excess of 450 kg/m3 shall be used unless
special design consideration is given to the increased risk of cracking due to drying shrinkage in thin sections, or to early
thermal cracking and to the increased risk of alkali silica reactions.
DTSR : Mix Constituents

A. Sulphates in Concrete
For the concrete made using cement other than supersulphated cement complying to IS:6909, total water-soluble sulphate content of
the concrete mix, expressed as SO3, should not exceed 4 % by mass of the cement in the mix.
B. Chlorides in Concrete
Maximum total content of acid soluble chloride (Clmax) shall be limited for different cases as described below :

Type of Use of Concrete Clmax (kg/m3)

Concrete containing metal and steam cured at elevated temperature

Prestressed concrete

Reinforced concrete
Plain Concrete with embedded metal

Concrete not containing any embedded metal

Concrete containing any material that does not require protection from chloride

C. Alkalis in Concrete
Alkalis (Na2O and K2O) may react with some aggregates containing particular varieties of silica and lead to expansive reactions
causing cracking and disruption of concrete. However, damage to concrete due to this reaction is normally possible only when all of
the following are present together:
A high level moisture content within concrete
Concrete is made of a cement, aggregate or any other ingredient with high alkali content or alkali reactive constituent
If the service records of particular cement/aggregate combination are well established and do not include any instances of cracking
due to alkali-aggregate reaction, no further precautions are required. For unfamiliar materials following precautions are suggested :
Use of non-reactive aggregates from alternative sources.
Use of low alkali OPC having total alkali content not more than 0.6 % as Na 2O equivalent.
Use of fly ash (Grade I) confirming to IS 3812 or granulated blastfurnace slag confirming to IS 12089 as part replacement of low
alkali OPC, provided fly ash and slag contents are at least 20 % and 50 % respectively.
Use of impermeable membranes to reduce degree of saturation of the concrete during service.
Limiting the cement content in the concrete mix and thereby limiting the total alkali content. For more guidance specialist
literature may be referred.

DTSR : Workmanship

A. Compaction
Adequate compaction without segregation should be ensured by providing suitable workability and by employing appropriated
placing and compacting equipment and procedures.
Full compaction is particularly important in the vicinity of construction and movement joints and of embedded metals and
B. Finishing
Good finishing practices are essential for durable concrete.
Overworking the surface and addition of water to aid in finishing should be avoided, the resulting laitance will have impaired
strength and durability will be particularly vulnerable to freezing and thawing under wet conditions.
C. Curing
It is essential to use proper and adequate curing techniques to reduce the permeability of the concrete and enhance durability by
extending the hydration of the cement, particularly in its surface zone.
DTSR : Air Entraining Admixtures and Compensatory Higher Concrete Grade

When using concrete lower than grade M50 under freezing-thawing possibilities, use of suitable air entraining admixtures can
enhance durability.
The mean total air content by volume of the fresh concrete at the time of delivery should be :
(5 1)% when nominal maximum size of aggregate is 20 mm
(4 1)% when nominal maximum size of aggregate is 40 mm
Since air entrainment reduces the strength, suitable adjustments may be made in the mix design for achieving required strength.


DTSR : Cement Type Restriction, Special Mix Proportion and Protective Aprons

Recommended type of cement, maximum free w/c ratio and minimum cement content, required at different sulphate concentrations
in near-neutral ground water having pH of 6 to 9 are described below :

Dense, fully compacted

concrete made with 20

Concentration of sulphates , expressed as SO3 mm nominal max. Size of
aggr. Complying with IS
Type of Cement
In Soil Minimum
In ground
cement Maximum
Total SO3 SO3 in (2:1) content$ W/C ratio+
water:soil (g/l)
(%) extract (g/l) kg/m3

1 Traces(<0.2) <1.0 <0.3 OPC or PSC& or PPC 280 0.55

OPC or PSC& or PPC 330 0.50

2 0.2-0.5 1.0-1.9 0.3-1.2
SSC* or SRPC 310 0.50

SSC* or SRPC 330 0.50

3 0.5-1.0 1.9-3.1 1.2-2.5
PPC or PSC& 350 0.45

4 1.0-2.0 3.1-5.0 2.5-5.0 SSC* or SRPC 370 0.45

SRPC or SSC* with protective

5 >2.0 >5.0 >5.0 400 0.40

Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC); Portland Slag Cement (PSC); Portland Pozzolana Cement (PPC); Supersulphated Cement (SSC);
Sulphate Resisting Portland Cement (SRPC).
*Use of SSC is generally restricted where the prevailing temperature is above 40 oC. SSC gives and acceptable life provided that the
concrete is dense and prepared with a w/c ratio of 0.4 or less, in mineral acids, down to pH 3.5.
For SO 3 contents near the upper limit of any class, cement contents above the minimum specified are advised.
For severe conditions, such as thin sections under hydrostatic pressure on one side only and sections partly immersed, considerations
should be given to a further reduction of w/c ratio.
PSC confirming to IS 455 with slag content more than 50 % exhibits better sulphate resisting properties.

Where chloride is encountered along with sulphates in soil or ground water, OPC with C3A content 5-8 % shall be desired to be used
in concrete, instead of SRPC. Alternatively, PSC conforming to IS 455 having more than 50 % slag or a blend of OPC and slag may be
used provided sufficient information is available on performance of such blended cements in these conditions.
For very high sulphate concentrations in class 5 conditions, some form of lining such as polyethylene or polychloroprene sheet; or
surface coating based on asphalt, chlorinated rubber, epoxy; or polyurethane materials should be used to prevent access by the
sulphate solution.
DTSR : Drainage and Protective Aprons

At sites where alkali concentrations are high or may become very high, the ground water should be lowered by drainage so that it
will not come in direct contact with the concrete.
Additional protection may be obtained by the use of chemically resistant stone facing or a layer of plaster of Paris covered with
suitable fabric, such as jute thoroughly impregnated with bituminous material.


DTSR : Special Minimum Concrete Grade, Avoid Porous Materials, Precast Preference, Construction Joint Restriction and
Reinforcement Protection

Concrete in sea-water or exposed directly along the sea-coast shall be at least M20 and M30 grades in cases of plain concrete and
reinforced concrete respectively. Use of slag or pozzolana cement is advantageous under such conditions.
Special attention shall be given to the design of the mix to obtain densest possible concrete; slag, broken brick, soft sandstone or
other porous or weak aggregates shall not be used.
As far as possible preference shall be given to precast members unreinforced, well cured and hardened, without sharp corners, and
having trowel-smooth finished surfaces free from crazing, cracks or other defects. Plastering should be avoided.
No construction joints shall be within 600 mm below low water-level or within 600 mm of the upper and lower planes of wave
actions. Where unusually severe conditions or abrasions are anticipated, such parts of the work shall be protected by bituminous or
silico-fluoride coatings or stone facing bedded with bitumen.

Exposure Classes As Per Indian Code

Environment Exposure Conditions

Concrete surfaces protected against weather or aggressive conditions, except those situated
in coastal area
Concrete surfaces sheltered from severe rains or freezing whilst wet
Concrete exposed to condensation and rain
Moderate Concrete continuously under water
Concrete in contact or buried under non-aggressive soil/ground water
Concrete surfaces sheltered from saturated salt air in coastal area
Concrete surfaces exposed to severe rain, alternate wetting and drying or occasional freezing
whilst wet or severe condensation
Concrete completely immersed in sea water
Concrete exposed to coastal environment
Concrete surfaces exposed to sea water spray, corrosive fumes or severe freezing conditions
Very Severe whilst wet
Concrete in contact with or buried under aggressive sub-soil/ground water
Surface members in tidal zone
Members in direct contact with liquid/solid aggressive chemicals

Fig. 1 Concrete-Environment Interaction as Perceived from Indian Code (Ends Here)


Bond Requirements Durability Requirements

Seperated bars Bundled bars Structural Class Exposure Class Strength Class

Nominal max. Nominal max.

aggregate size aggregate size
Yes 32 mm ? 32 mm ? A
No Yes No
Basic Nominal Indicative Strength
Cn-bond = Cn-bond = Cover Requirement Requirement
( + 5) Matrix Matrix

Cn-bond = Cn-bond =
eq (eq + 5)

Higher Strength
Class than Indicative
Yes Employed ?
Modification for Design Life

Compensation for SlabGeometry

Compensation for Special Quality Control Air Entrainment Always

Modifications for Abrassive Action No Yes
Concrete Placed against Existing Concrete
Compensation for Higher
Strength Class

Country-Specific Modifications Modified Compensation for

Higher Strength Class
Additive Safety Element*

Compensation for using Required Nominal Selected Strength for

Stainless Steel* Cover for Euro Code Euro Code

Compensation for Additional

Protection (e.g. coating)* Country-
Specific w/c
Addition for Abrasive Action Cn-durability ratio, cement
*EC requirement = 0 (zero)

Cn1 = max. {Cn-bond OR Cn-durability OR 10 mm}

Cover Deviation Allowance Cn2 = Cn1 + Cdev Max. w/c Ratio Min. Cement
Casual Special Stringent
Cdev = 10 mm Cdev = 5 to 10 mm Cdev = 0 to 10 mm

Cn = Max.{Cn2 OR Special Situation}


Fig. 2 Concrete-Environment Interaction as Perceived from Euro Code (Starts Here)

Exposure Classes as per Euro Code

Class Description of Environment Informative Examples

No Risk of Corrosion or Attack
For concrete without reinforcement or embedded metal: All Concrete inside buildings with very low air
X0 exposures except where there is freeze-thaw, abrasion or humidity
chemical attack
Corrosion Induced by Carbonation
Concrete inside buildings with very low air
XC1 Dry or permanently wet humidity
Concrete permanently submerged in water
Concrete surfaces subject to long-term water
XC2 Wet, rarely dry contact
Many foundations
Concrete inside buildings with moderate or high
XC3 Moderate humidity air humidity
External concrete sheltered from rain
Concrete surfaces subject to water contact, not
XC4 Cyclic wet and dry
within exposure Class XC2
Corrosion Induced by Chlorides
XD1 Moderate humidity Concrete surfaces exposed to airborne chlorides
Swimming pools
XD2 Wet, rarely dry Concrete components exposed to industrial
waters containing chlorides
Parts of bridges exposed to spray containing
XD3 Cyclic wet and dry
Car park slabs
Corrosion Induced by Chlorides from Sea-Water
Exposed to airborne salt but not in direct contact with sea
XS1 Structures near to or on the coast
XS2 Permanently submerged Parts of marine structures
XS3 Tidal, splash and spray zones Parts of marine structures
Freeze-Thaw Attack
Vertical concrete surfaces exposed to rain and
XF1 Moderate water saturation, without de-icing agent
Vertical concrete surfaces of road structures
XF2 Moderate water saturation, with de-icing agent
exposed to freezing and airborne de-icing
Horizontal concrete surfaces exposed to rain and
XF3 High water saturation, without de-icing agent
Road and bridge decks exposed to de-icing
Concrete surfaces exposed to direct spray
XF4 High water saturation, with de-icing agent
containing de-icing agents and freezing
Splash zone of marine structures exposed to
Chemical Attack
XA1 Slightly aggressive chemical environment Natural soils and ground water
XA2 Moderately aggressive chemical environment Natural soils and ground water
XA3 Highly aggressive chemical environment Natural soils and ground water
Basic Nominal Cover Requirement Matrix

Environmental Requirement for Cover for Reinforced Concrete

Exposure Class
X0 XC1 XC2/XC3 XC4 XD1/XS1 XD2/XS2 XD3/XS3
S1 10 10 10 15 20 25 30
S2 10 10 15 20 25 30 35
S3 10 10 20 25 30 35 40
S4 10 15 25 30 35 40 45
S5 15 20 30 35 40 45 50
S6 20 25 35 40 45 50 55

Indicative Strength Requirement Matrix

Reinforcement Corrosion
Agent Carbonation Chloride Ingress Chloride Ingress (Sea-water)
Strength C20/25 C25/30 C30/37 C30/37 C35/45 C30/37 C35/45
Damage to Concrete
Agent No Risk Freeze-Thaw Attack Chemical Attack
X0 XF1 XF2 XF3 XA1 XA2 XA3
Strength C20/25 C20/25 C20/25 C20/25 C20/25 C20/25 C20/25

Modifications to Structural Class (SC)#

Exposure Class
X0 XC1 XC2/XC3 XC4 XD1 XD2/XS1 XD3/XS2/XS3
working life SC + 2 SC + 2 SC + 2 SC + 2 SC + 2 SC + 2 SC + 2
of 100 years
with slab SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1
quality SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1
C30/37 C30/37 C35/45 C40/50 C40/50 C40/50 C45/55
SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1
Entrainment SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1 SC 1
Minimum Structural Class is S1.

Position of reinforcement not affected by construction process.

Provisions for Concrete Placed in Special Situations
A. Fresh in-situ concrete placed against existing (precast or hardened in-situ) elements :
Cn-durability = 0 (zero) [Provided Strength Class > C25/30, exposure time < 28 days, interface has been roughned]
B. Concrete placed against uneven surfaces :
Cdev shall be increased to compensate for unevenness.
Minimum Cn = 40 mm (Concrete placed against prepared ground, including blinding)
Minimum Cn = 75 mm (Concrete placed directly against soil)

Modifications to Basic Nominal Cover Requirements due to Abrasion as per Euro Code
Nominal Cover (with abrasion allowance) = Basic Nominal Cover for Durability + Abrasion Allowance (k)

Abrasion Class Severity Example k (mm)

Members of industrial sites frequented by
XM1 Moderate 5
vehicles with air tyres
Members of industrial sites frequented by fork
XM2 Heavy 10
lifts or solid rubber tyres
Members of industrial sites frequented fork lifts
XM3 Extreme 15
with elastomer or steel tyres or track vehicles

Strength Class-w/c Ratio-Cement Content Relation for German Code (DIN EN206-1)
Carbonation Induced Corrosion
Exposure Class XC1/XC2 XC3 XC4
Max. w/c Ratio 0.75 0.65 0.60
Min. Cement Content (kg/m3) 240 260 280
Min. Strength Class C16/20 C20/25 C25/30

Chloride Ingress Induced Corrosion

Exposure Class XD1 XD2 XD3 XS1 XS2 XS3
Max. w/c Ratio 0.55 0.50 0.45 0.55 0.50 0.45
Min. Cement Content (kg/m3) 300 320 320 300 320 320
Min. Strength Class C30/37 C35/45 C35/45 C30/37 C35/45 C35/45

Damage due to Freeze-Thaw Action

Exposure Class XF1 XF2 XF3 XF4
Max. w/c Ratio 0.60 0.55 0.50 0.55 0.50 0.50
Min. Cement Content (kg/m3) 280 300 320 300 320 320
Min. Strength Class C25/30 C25/30 C35/45 C25/30 C35/45 C30/37
Minimum average air 8 --- 5.5 --- 5.5 --- 5.5
void in % by volume 16 --- 4.5 --- 4.5 --- 4.5
for average size of 32 --- 4.0 --- 4.0 --- 4.0
aggregates (mm) 63 --- 3.5 --- 3.5 --- 3.5

Damage due to Chemical Attack

Exposure Class XA1 XA2 XA3
Max. w/c Ratio 0.60 0.50 0.45
Min. Cement Content (kg/m3) 280 320 320
Min. Strength Class C25/30 C35/45 C35/45

Damage due to Abrasive Action

Exposure Class XM1 XM2* XM2 XM3
Max. w/c Ratio 0.55 0.55 0.45 0.45
Min. Cement Content (kg/m3) 300 300 320 320
Min. Strength Class C30/37 C30/37 C35/45 C35/45
*With some surface treatment done.

Fig. 2 Concrete-Environment Interaction as Perceived from Euro Code (Ends Here)