Rebar Reinforcement in Concrete

By Brian Ki, P.E. | November 5, 2019

When using concrete as a construction material in buildings, it is often accompanied by steel reinforcement. The most common type of reinforcement is typically rebar. Rebar is a steel round bar of different diameter sizes, has ridges to adhere to, and ultimately, gets embedded inside wet concrete.

Why use rebar inside your concrete structure?  Concrete by itself is very strong in compression but very weak in tension. In other words, you can push down on concrete materials and it can easily handle the load. Alternatively, if you try to pull the concrete apart, it is much easier to break.

In a very simplified comparison, think about building a sandcastle at the beach. You can fill a bucket of sand to the brim and easily push down on it without it caving in. As soon as you grab the sand and pull it out of the bucket, it will easily break apart at your fingers. Sure, concrete has a little more chemical bonding to it, but it’s a similar concept.

To increase the tensile strength of a concrete member, rebar is strategically placed into areas where tension forces are high. This ultimately reduces the amount of cracking, which can often be a significant sign of concrete failure.

If you are planning to use concrete in your next construction project, whether it be beams, columns, planks, or foundations, give us a call and we can help you locate the most economical rebar layout design!

4 thoughts on “Rebar Reinforcement in Concrete

  1. Christopher Boothby

    Very interesting. What about using rebar in oceanfront property?

    1. Brian Ki

      Thanks for the question! Using reinforcement in any concrete construction project is always recommended because of concrete’s natural tendency to crack. The more concrete, the higher chance of the material forming cracks.

      When it comes to oceanfront homes, this theory is still applied and if using a concrete frost wall or basement foundation, rebar is still the most common practice, when compared to wire meshes and synthetic fibers. The factor that needs to be considered on an oceanfront property is, of course, the ocean water, i.e. salt water. The chemicals of salt will eventually corrode the rebar if not property accounted for.

      Having a proper site design with an effective water mitigation plan is highly recommended when working with a site that involves lots of water, especially salt water. In some cases, homeowners may find that a full foundation with basement may not be the best design for certain sites.

      Brian Ki, P.E.

  2. Zachary Tomlinson

    Thanks for helping me understand what rebar is and how it works. I find it interesting that these are used to reinforce concrete, especially when doing construction-related tasks! My friend is interested in building his home this year and he’s interested in learning more about the home building process. I learned yesterday that there are aluminum rebars, I should probably suggest that he get aluminum reinforcement bars for his future home.

    1. Team Engineering

      In New England, steel rebar is most common. In most situations, the properties for the steel are much stronger than aluminum. Either way, just like anything else involving construction, there are standards that the rebar needs to meet, including, its strength and how its laid out. If you are meeting those building code standards, then go for it!


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