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Title No.


Construction Loads on Slabs

with Shored Formwork in
Multistory Buildings

Construction loads in a concrete structure where upper floors are shored

from lower floors may exceed design service loads by an appreciable
ar:~ount. A method for determining these erection loads is presented for flat
slab or flat plate construction. The effect of shoring different numbers of
floors and the effect of construction loads on design are also discussed.
Key words: construction load; deflection; design; flat plate; formwork;
multistory building; shoring .

• IN MULTISTORY REINFORCED CONCRETE building construction, the usual

practice is to shore the freshly placed floor on several previously cast
floors. The construction loads in the supporting floors may appreciably
exceed the loads under service conditions. Such loads depend on the
sequence of erection and cannot be determined by inspection.
In this paper, the erection loads will be determined analytically with
particular reference to flat slab or flat plate construction. It will be
shown that with a few simplifying assumptions, which should not affect
the end result appreciably, such analysis is quite straightforward.
The effect of shoring different numbers of floors and the effect of
construction loads on design are also discussed.


In a typical construction cycle there are two alternating operations
which control the loads being applied to the slabs. These are:
1. Placing a fresh slab, and
2. Removing the lowest level of shores
For example, a typical construction rising at the rate of one floor
per week and employing a maximum of three levels of shores will have,
on the day that the slab at Level 'p' is cast (Operation A), shores in
position under Slabs 'p' (0 days old), 'p-1' (7 days), and 'p-2' (14 days)
and the load of the four slabs plus formwork will be distributed be-
tween three slabs (Slabs 'p-1', 'p-2,' and 'p-3') in a manner to be de-


About 5 days later the shores under Slab 'p-2' will be removed (Op-
eration B) and the force formerly in these shores will be distributed
between Slabs 'p' (5 days old) 'p-1' (12 days), and 'p-2' (19 days).
The formwork, which weighs about 10 percent of the slab it is sup-
porting, is assumed in this analysis to be included in the self weight of the
slab. The transport of formwork from one level to another has only
minor effect on the shore loads above those specified in Operations A
and B. It has no effect on the loads carried by the slabs according to
the principal assumption simplifying this analysis.
This assumption is that the shores are infinitely rigid in comparison
with the slabs in vertical displacement. For steel shores this is quite
justified, since the contraction of the shores under unit load is quite
minute compared with the deflection of a slab under the same load,
except for a small region at column heads. Timber shores have a flexi-
bility large enough to modify the load distribution between slabs sig-
nificantly, but the results for rigid shores remain instructive and, it
appears, a conservative guide to the loads actually obtained. The be-
havior of timber shores and the mathematical complications of the inter-
action of the slab stiffness with shore stiffness have been dealt with
thoroughly by Neilson. 1
It is also assumed that the shores are spaced close enough to treat the
shore reactions as a distributed load. With rigid shores all slabs con-
nected by shores deflect identically. A load applied to the system is
therefore distributed between the slabs in proportion to their relative
flexural stiffnesses. To demonstrate the analysis, the flexural stiffness
will be assumed to be constant for all slabs, and the effect of flexural
stiffness increasing with age will be considered subsequently.


Reverting to the typical construction cycle mentioned, with a maxi-
mum of three levels of shores (m = 3). In Fig. 1 the loads carried by
the shores and the slabs are expressed as factors by which the self weight
plus formwork must be multiplied. This factor is r~ferred to as the load
ratio. Until the formwork "gets off the ground" all the loads are trans-
mitted through the shores to the rigid foundation, as indicated by the
condition at 21 days in Fig. 1. At 26 days the shor~ force (3.0) is dis-
tributed equa!ly between slabs at Levels 1, 2, and 3. At 28 days the
weight of the slab at Level 4 (1.0) is distributed equally between
slabs at Levels 1, 2, and 3. At 33 days the shore force at Level 1 (0.33) is
distributed equally between slabs at Levels 2, 3, and 4, and so on.
The analysis shows that peak load ratios occur at all stages in the
slab at Level 3, the last slflb cast before the shores at ground level
were removed. The absolute maximum load ratio was 2.36 at 42 days.

Paul Grundy is a design engineer, Hardcastle & Richards, consulting structural and civil
engineers, Melbourne, Australia. At the time this paper was written, Dr. Grundy was an
engineer with the Victorian Branch of Civil and Civic Pty., limited, Melbourne. In 1959 he
obtained an MS degree from the University of Melbourne for his research on ultimate
strength of triangulated steel frames. For further research on struts at Cambridge, England,
he received his PhD.
A. Kabaila is a lecturer, Civil Engineering Department, University of New South Wales,
Sydney. Prior to his current position, Professor Kabaila was chief engineer, Victorian Branch of
Civil and Civic Pty., limited, Melbourne, and before that appointment he was a lecturer at
the Royal Melbourne Technical College. Professor Kabaila obtained a Master's degree at the
University of New South Wales for his work on folded plates. This paper was written while
Professor Kabaila was employed at the Victorian Branch of Civil and Civic Pty.

Above Level 4 the loads steadily converged on the cycle shown at the
end of Fig. 1, with a maximum load factor of 2.00 in the bottom slab
aged 21 days.
If the analysis is repeated using two or four levels of shores ( m = 2 or
4) it will be found that the maximum loads are always carried by the
last slab cast before the shores at ground level are removed. When m = 2,
the absolute maximum factor is 2.25 at 14 days, and when m = 4 the
absolute maximum is 2.43 at 28 days.
In each case (in fact, for any number of shored levels) the loads
converge on a cycle in which the bottom slab of the shored system
has a load ratio of 2.00, which is reached by equal increments for each
Operation A and B.
It is evident from this analysis that increasing the number of levels
shored leads to no reduction at all in the average maximum construction
loads on the slabs. The absolute maximum actually increases with an
increasing number of levels shored. However, the age of the slab at
which these maxima occur also increases, so that the increase in con-
crete strength may well offset the extra load as a design consideration.


In practice, the modulus of elasticity of the concrete Ec increases
with age as well as the concrete strength fc', although at a different
rate. Typical developments of Ec and fc' in terms of their 28-day values
are shown in Fig. 3, from which it can be seen that Ec develops more
rapidly and is thereafter more constant than fc'.
The flexural stiffness of an uncracked section is only slightly affected
by the percentage of steel, and may be taken in this analysis to be
directly proportional to E 0 • The areas in which flat slabs and plates
are likely to crack, if at all, are localized, being confined to the critical
section and environs at the columns. Whereas the analysis previously
used a constant slab stiffness for all slabs, with all load increments
distributed equally between the hardened slabs, it is more realistic to
Load ratios apply to adjacent component (slab or shores)
1. 00
I •00
0. 60
1 ·•o
1. 00
1 ·lj)
1. 38
1. JC
1. 00
0. 66 .
1 •00
o. 66 1
1. 66

1. 00


;.1 ,..~
:.~ ···~
O·IS 1. 04 1 ·IZ I· 00
0. 89 I· Sl 1·36 >
l•ll. I • II 1 •78 2 ·36
§ §
0. 66 O·U 0· 77
1 ·00 l·lJ I·U 1. 71
2 ·00 0 0. 3l -l
0 1•.0.0 1 • 33 1. 00 I
3. 00 m
Time, day~ 21 26 21 33 31 •o 42 17 19
Converged solution m
Fig. 1-Analysis assuming constant Eo and m = 3 n

.~ '"~
0. 69 AI
0. 98
0. 62 -l
. 00 I. l8 0· 71 m
0. 71 1·32 1·71
1 ·00 I· 29 I· 06 z
0 ·57 1. 37 2. 0 1· 00
1·00 1•13 0 •92
1. 08 =i

O·U 1. 00

'"~ : . ~
0 ·87 1•16 1 ·31


, ·19 1·H 1· 61 2·31 rn
0 ·12 0•11 0·53 O· 18
1 ·03 1. 37 1 ·53 1· II
2 ·00 0 •09 O·U
0 1• 09 1·41 1 ·00 1· 00
3 ·00
Time, days 21 26 28 33 31 40 •z 17 u Converged solution
Fig. 2-Analysis assuming variable Eo and m = 3 ~
' ()


distribute the loads between the

slabs in proportion to their stiff-
nesses which are assumed propor-
tional to E •.
Two sets of distribution factors
are required. Referring to the typi-
cal construction procedure (m =
3), in Operation A the slabs are 0 21 21

aged 0, 7, 14, and 21 days and in AGE, DAYS

Operation B the slabs are aged 5, Fig. 3 _ Development of Ec and fc'
12, and 19 days. Using the values with age
of Ec indicated by Fig. 3, the dis-
tribution factors are 0, 0.31, 0.34, and 0.35 for Operation A and 0.293,
0.343, and 0.364 for Operation B. For constant Ec all these distribution
factors were 0.333.
The analysis with these factors is shown in Fig. 2, and it will be
noticed that the load ratios obtained do not differ excessively from
those obtained for constant slab stiffness. As is the case with constant
E. the most heavily loaded slab remains the last to be placed before
the shores at ground level are removed. As before the loads converge to
a regular cycle. The same is true for other values of m.
To explore the implications of this analysis in terms of design and
construction it is more convenient to follow the loading history of the
individual slabs. In Fig. 4 this is recorded for the most heavily loaded
slab as well as the average or converged solution, for the three construc-
tion procedures, viz., m = 2, 3, and 4.
It is apparent from the loading histories that the maximum load ratio
for any slab will almost inevitably lie between 2.0 and 2.5. Neilson1 ob-
tained maximum theoretical load ratios of 2.66 for m = 2 and 2.31 for
m = 3, using shore stiffnesses determined experimentally on timber
shores. It would be expected that the introduction of flexible shores

1'!!. ~
< ~

21 u 21 211 t•


28 JS

(a) (b) (c)

Fig. 4-Loading history of the slabs


Construction loads, lb per sq ft Service loads, lb per sq ft
Typical Maximum Design
Item floor at Level 3 Item load
10-in. slab 120 120 10-in. slab 120
Form work 10 10 Finishes 15
- -
Subtotal 130 130 Partitions 15
Load ratio 2.06 2.35 Live load 50
- - -
Total (at 21 days) 268 3')6 Total (after 28 days) 200

would reduce the maximum load ratio. The discrepancy is due to the
much wider assumed variation of Ec, which disagrees with experimental
evidence. In actual tests on a multistory building under construction
using a 14-day slab cycle and a timber shoring system corresponding to
m = 2, the maximum load ratio observed in the first two levels was 2.08.
The principal effect of increasing the value of m is to increase the age
of the slab at which this maximum load is applied. If the self weight of
the slab is a high fraction of the total load that the slab is to carry in
service, it will usually happen that the construction loads are critical
in all aspects of the slab design. For example, a 10-in. slab in a flat
plate office building using three levels of shores in construction, will
have th& loads in construction and in service (see Table 1).
If the slab had been only 6 in. thick the loads in service would be
greater than those in construction, and no allowance for construction
loads would have to be made in the design.
The question now arises: What allowances should be made for the
construction loads if these exceed the subsequent loads in service?
To answer this it is necessary to separate the two principal require-
ments which the structure must satisfy during construction. These are
the same as at any age of the structure, viz., an adequate safety margin
and permanent deflections within accepta!ble limits.

Although the load ratio obtained by elastic analysis is somewhat
greater than 2.0, different load distribution would take place before a
flexural failure could occur. The development of full plastic moment
in the slab, which permits the use of yield line theory in ultimate
strength analysis of slabs, also permits the redistribution of loads through
the redundant shored system of construction. Before collapse can take
place in Operation A, the load of m +
1 slabs is therefore distributed
between m slabs in proportion to their available strengths. Such an
argument would lead to more favorable -load distribution to that derived


by elastic theory. If advantage is taken of such ultimate strength con-

siderations, deflections could become ~xcessive. The question of deflec-
tions is broadly discussed in the next section.
The plastic load redistribution cannot be relied on as far as the shear
strength of the slab is concerned. The shear deformations are small in
comparison with the flexural deformations and shear failure could con-
ceivably take place before the flexural ultimate strength with the ac-
companying load r·edistribution would be reached. Similar considera-
tions to those of shear strength apply to bond strength.
The constructional shear and bond stresses must be taken in conjunc-
tion with the reduced shear and bond strengths available in concrete
less than 28 days old. Since these strengths vary as yj;' they develop
more rapidly than compressive strength at an early age, and the
strength reductions are not large.
It will be seen from the above discussion that shear and bond during
construction will be the critical fa~tors in many slab designs.


Quantitative estimation of deflections during construction is uncertain
since creep rates in concrete of early age remain largely undetermined.
It is true that allowance can be made for deflections occurring during
construction by precambering the formwork by the same amount, but
this is an uncertain process when these initial deflections are excessive.
It is desirable to limit the constructional deflections in any case.
Direct computation of constructional deflections is a lengthy process
of doubtful accuracy and sufficient satisfaction that the deflections have
been contained should be derived by limiting the flexural stress ob-
tained in the slab by elastic theory. Although the flexural stresses could
be quite high in one slab at a time without the structure being unsafe,
as was shown previously, it would, perhaps, be wise if the ratio of the

l l

TIJ. ~ TTl ,.:.]

1\_ ~ 2
lo4 X!t.IUM
r- t----
1\~ ; j

zw I'
,, O+--Lr-~r-~---+--~

21 2 0 7
- " -21 2 0 14 -.. 21 21


@" (a) (b) (c)
Fig. 5-Loadfstrength history 9f the slabs

maximum flexural stress in the concrete to the design strength at the

age in question were limited to the ratio specified in the code for
elastic design. In order to find the most critical instance during con-
struction for flexural stress, the construction load ratios depicted in
Fig. 4 are divided by the design strength ratios to give the equivalent
loads at 28 days, shown in Fig. 5.
Comparison of these equivalent loads in Fig. 5 (a), (b), and (c) shows
an appreciable fall in their maxima for a typical slab as the number of
shore levels increases. The maxima are 2.53, 2.19, and 2.08 for m = 2, 3,
and 4, respectively. As a first approximation the deflections under the
different systems may be taken as proportional to these equivalent
loads. Hence our instinctive feeling that the structure will deflect less
if more levels are shored is borne out theoretically, although the gains
are not as great as might have been expected.

Creep is an important component of the total slab deflection as well
as an important means of load redistribution when local stresses are
high. It is not clear, subject to further research how creep rates compare
in concrete of early age with 28-day concrete. Odman, in calculating
the theoretical loads for Neilson 1 held that creep could be neglected
because high early creep rates were offset by low early stresses in
the slabs, leading to an approximately constant creep rate in all slabs.
This seems to be a reasonable assertion that this stage of knowledge of
The method of stripping formwork is significant since most methods
require removal and replacement of the shores a few at a time. It is
usual for the shores to be replaced with only a light compressive force
in them to hold them in place. Later, with shores being replaced around,
this force will increase again, but the general effect of stripping form-
work by this method is to reduce the loads on the slabs beneath and
to increase the loads by a corresponding amount on the slabs above.
Having regard to the highest loads occurring on the slab supporting the
lowest level of shores this effect could be beneficial if not carried to
excess. A systematic control of the forces in the shores using torsion
wrenches or some similar means could be used if economy in design
justified such strict constructional control.
Lacking such systematic control it is reasonable to assume the theoreti-
cally derived loads. The maximum loads which occur in one slab only
may be lower than the theoretical values because of the relief provided
by replacing the shores and the flexibility of the foundations, which were
assumed rigid in the analysis. This reduction requires experimental
verification before assuming it happens.

While the shores rest on rigid foundations, they support the entire
structure. Thereafter shoring forces can be readily calculated from the
loads carried by the slabs. An inspection of the three construction sys-
tems reveals that the maximum load transmitted by a level of shores
when m = 2 is 1.24 times the self weight of a slab plus formwork. The
maximum factor is 1.56 when m = 3, and 1.92 when m = 4. Furthermore,
there is no consistent reduction in shoring forces in the lower levels of
a system of shores, from which it is concluded that the shores should
be evenly distributed throughout, or at least sufficient at all levels to
carry the factored loads indicated.

Construction loads in a concrete structure in which the upper floors
are shored from the lower floors may exceed design loads for service
conditions by a considerable margin and should not be ignored in de-
sign. Analytical determination of such loads, as has been demonstrated
in this paper, does not present great difficulties. The effect of such
construction loads on design may be summarized as follows:

Flexural strength
Because of potential load redistribution, flexural strength may not be
a critical factor in design for construction loads.

If the deflections are to be limited the maximum construction flexural
stresses should be limited without taking the load redistribution into
account. The limitation should preferably be the same as for stresses
under working loads with reductions appropriate to the age of the

Bond and shear strengths

As the bond or shear failure could conceivably occur before flexural
load redistribution could take place the structure should be designed for
maximum construction loads derived by elastic considerations, as far
as shear and bond is concerned.

The authors wish to thank L. Blakey and other members of the Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research Organization at the Building Research Divi-
sion, Highett, Victoria, for confirming the development of E. and f.' with age,
and for helpful discussions.
- December 1963

1. Neilson, Knud E. C., "Loads on Reinforced Concrete Floor Slabs and their
Deformations During Construction," Bulletin No. 15; Final Report, Swedish
Cement and Concrete Research Institute, Royal Institute of Technology, Stock-
holm, 1952.

Received by the Institute Feb. 4, 1963. Title No. 60-73 is a part of copyrighted Jo~rnal of the
American Concrete Institute, Proceedings V. 60, No. 12, Dec. 1963. Separate prints are
available at 50 cents each, cash with order.

American Concrete Institute, P. 0. Box 4754, Redford Station, Detroit, Mich. 48219

Discussion of this paper should reach ACI headquarters in triplicate

by Mar. 1, 1964, for publication in the Part 2, June 1964 JOURNAL.

Sinopsis- Resumes- Zusammenfassung

C.argas Durante Ia Construcci6n Sobre Losas con Cimbra Apuntalada

en Edificios de Varios Pisos

Las cargas durante construcci6n en una estructura de concreto dcnde los

pis-as superiores estim apuntalados en los inferiores, pueden exceder las cargas
de diseiio de servicio en una cantidad apreciable. Se presenta un metodo para
dete:rminar estas cargas de erecci6n para construcciones de losa plana. Tambiem
se discuten los efectos de apuntalar un diferente numero de pis-as, y de las cargas
de construcci6n sabre el disefio.

Charges de Construction sur Dalles avec Formes Etayees dans les

Immeubles a Plusieurs Etages

Les charges de construction dans un immeuble en beton ou les etages superieures

sont etayes d'en bas peuvent outr2passer considerablement les charges visees
dans le calcul. On presente une methode de determiner ces charges de construc-
ticn pour !'erection de dalles plates sur plaques. On discute aussi l'effet d'etayage
de differents nombres d'etages et l'effet des charges de construction sur le calcul.

Lastzusti:inde fiir Platten mit abgestiitzter Schalung in mehrstockigen


Baulasten in einem Betonbau, bei dem die oberE:n Stockwerke von den uriteren
abgestiitzt werde:n, ki:innen die Konstruktionsbelas-tungen erheblich iiberschreiten.
Es wird eine Methode angegeben, urn diese Baubelastung fiir tragerlose Decken-
konstruktionen zu bestimmen. Die Wirkung des Stiitzens verschiedener Stock-
werke und die Wirkung der Baubelas-tung auf den Entwurf werden ebenfalls