Flat slabs (Column supported twoway slabs)
A flat slab is a concrete slab reinforced in two (more) direction supported directly by concrete
column without the use of intermediary beams. Beams may be used for flat slabs interrupted
around the stairs or at the discontinuous edge of the slab.
The flat slab may be of constant thickness throughout (flat plate) or in the area of the column it
may be thicker than the rest of the slab to form drop panel. The supporting column may also be
of uniform crosssection or it may be flared (tapered) to form a columnhead or capital. These
various forms of construction of flat slab are illustrated as shown below
td
column
capital
Without droppanel &
columncapital
(Flat plate)
With columncapital
but no droppanel
s
drop
panel
With droppanel &
columncapital
The drop panels are effective in reducing the shearing stresses developed around column where
the column is liable to punch through the slab; and they also provide an increased moment of
resistance of slab where the negative moments are greatest. Drop panels are generally used for
flat slab supporting live load in excess of 7kN/m2.
Drop panels are square or rectangular. The side of the drop panel shall be at least 1/3 of the
smaller span length (1/3 of the span in parallel direction). The maximum thickness of drop panel
below slab used in computing the negative steel area shall not be more than of the distance
from edge of the drop to the edge of the column capital i.e t d
s
.
4
The purpose of column capital is to gain increased perimeter around the column transmitting
shear from the floor loading. The diameter of column head h c should not exceed 1/4th of the
shortest span framing in to the column. If the head is not circular, h c should be the diameter of
circle having an equivalent area. i.e
hc 2
Ac
The diameter of columnhead considered effective depends on the angle of inclination and depth
of column head as shown below.
hc
hc
900
45
900
< 450
Chapter 3: Twoway slab actionsFlat slab by Tesfaye T.
Advantages of flat slab over beam supported slab
 Simplified form work and reduced storey heights make flat slab more economical.
 More suitable for larger panel size and heavy loading.
 Windows can extend up to the underside of the slab, and there is no beam to obstruct the light
and the circulation of air.
 Absence of sharp corners gives greater fire resistance as there is less danger of the concrete
spelling and exposing the reinforcement.
Thickness of Flat Slab
The minimum effective depth required by serviceability limit state for deflection
(EBCS2/95) shall be determined using
fy
l
e
d 0.4 0.6
400
and, the minimum thickness shall not be less than 125mm.[t min = 150mm EBCS2/95]
where
a = 24
le length of longer span.
Generally deflection requirement govern the slab thickness. In some cases, slab thickness may be
governed by punching shear.
Total static Moment in Flat Slabs
Consider the typical interior panel of a flat slab subjected to a uniform load w per unit area as
shown below. Nichols had developed total static moment based on the assumption that the
boundaries of the slab panel and all line of symmetry are free from shear and torsion except the
curved sections which follows column capital.
X
hc 2
hc 2
Y
Y
lx
(shorter span)
E
D
E
X
l y (longer span)
W1
Mn
Mp
hc
W1
Considering Equilibrium of loads on half of the slab panels:
w.l x .l y
l x .l y
w. .hc2
.hc2
W1
w.
Loads on half panel,
2
8
8
2
Chapter 3: Twoway slab actionsFlat slab by Tesfaye T.
MAD due to down ward load W1 about column line AD,
w.l x .l y l y
w. .hc2 2hc
M AD
4
2
8
3
If the up ward shear W1 around curved section is considered uniformly distributed, the resultant
acts at hc/ distance from AD. Then, equilibrium of moment about AD gives:
w.l x .l y l y
l x .l y .hc2
w. .hc2 2hc
h
c
Mn M p
4
2
8
8
3
2
2
w.l x .l y2
w.l x .l y2
1 4hc hc
1 2hc
Mn M p
2
8
.l y 3l x .l y
8
3l y
Let Mo = Mn + Mp be total of positive and negative static moment in ydirection, then
M oy
w.l x .l y2
1 2hc
3l y
w.l x
2h
ly c
8
3
Similarly, the total static moment in xdirection can be obtained as:
M ox
where
w.l y .l x2
8
2hc
3l x
w.l y
2h
lx c
8
3
hc diameter of column capital
l y  length of longer span of slab
l x  length of shorter span of slab
From the above equations, unlike twoway edge supported slab, the bulk of the moment in flat
slab is supported in the longer span. Both equations of total static moments does not give any
information regarding how total static moment is distributed between positive and negative
moment, and how these moments vary along the width of the slab. The total static moment in the
longer direction may vary along the width of the slab as shown below. The variation shows larger
share of moment developed in flat slab near to columns, not near to middle of slab panel.
Variation of total
Static moment
M ny
M ny
M py
M py across
BE
M ny across
AD
E
D
Therefore in the analysis of flat slab, the total moment in a span need to be divided in to total
negative and total positive moments; and further divided in to moments in two strips of slab
(columnstrip and middlestrip).
Analysis of flat slab structure
3
Chapter 3: Twoway slab actionsFlat slab by Tesfaye T.
The analysis of a flat slab may be carried out using:
1. Direct design method if required conditions are satisfied, or
2. Equivalent frame method
For both methods, the sum of the maximum positive moment and the average of the maximum
negative moments in any span of the slab must be greater than or equal to the total static moment
of slab.
2
w.l2
2h
i.e.
M p M n, avg
l1 c
8
3
where l1 larger span
l2 smaller span
1) Direct design method (EBCS2/95):
It is an empirical approach based on the
analytical results of flat slabs. The method is limited to flat slabs meeting the following
requirements.
(a) Design is based on one load case in which all spans loaded with maximum design load.
(qd = 1.3DL + 1.6LL)
(b) There are at least three rows of panels of approximately equal span in the direction being
considered.
(c) Successive span length in each direction shall not differ by more than onethird of the
longer span.
(d) Maximum offsets of columns from either axis between center lines of successive columns
shall not exceed 10% of the span (in direction of the offset).
(e) The load is due to gravity only and is uniformly distributed over the entire panel. The live
load shall not exceed three times the dead load.
(f) Panel must be rectangular with the ratio of longer to shorter span within a panel not
greater than 2.0
For purpose of design of flat slab, panels of slab are divided in to column and middle strip. The
definition of these strips according to ESCP2 as follow:
Column strip: strip with a width on each side of a column centerline equal to 0.25 x or if
drops with dimension greater than x /3 are used, a width equal to the drop dimension.
Middle strip: strip bounded by two column strips. These definitions of strips are illustrated in
figure below.
The total design moment in panel of flatslab may be determined using the equation given by
EBCS2 as:
M 0 0.125 F . Le
Where F total design load on panels of slab between adjacent column considered,
F qd . l1. l2
2hc
Le the effective span in the direction of moment, Le l
qd 1.3DL 1.3LL
l1 longer span
l2 smaller span
( kN m 2 )
Middle strip, (= ly lx/2)
Middle strip, (= ly  drop size)
Chapter 3: Twoway slab actionsFlat slab by Tesfaye T.
lx/4
Column
strip
lx/4
Column
strip
lx
Ignore drop
If < lx/3
Drop
Middle
strip
Drop
lx/4
lx/2
Middle strip
(=ly drop size)
size
lx/4
Column strip
(= drop size)
Column strip
(= drop size)
ly
Longer span, ly
If drop l x 3 , column strip Drop size
This total design moment is divided in to positive and negative design moments at critical
positions of flat slab as given in table below along with design shear force in flat slab.
Table 1: Design Moments and design shear for flat slab of three or more equal span
Outer support

Moment
Shear
Total
column
moment
Column
Wall
 0.04F.Le
0.45 F
 0.02 F Le
0.4 F
0.04F. Le
Center of
First Span
First
Interior
Support
Center of Interior
Interior Support
span
0.083F. Le
0.063F. Le
0.6F
0.071F. Le

0.022F. Le
0.055F. Le
0.50F
0.022F. Le
Note: The moments given in table shall not be redistributed.
The design moments obtained using the above table shall be divided between the column and
middlestrip in the proportions given in table below. The same division shall be applied for
Equivalent frame method.
Table 2: Division of moment between strips
Column strip
75%
55%
Middle strip
25%
45%
 Negative Moment
 Positive Moment
Note: If the width of the drop panel is less than one half of the panel width, the total moment on middle
strip should be increased in proportion to the increased width of the middle strip; and the moment in the
column strip reduced in proportion to decreased width of column strip.
2) Equivalent frame Method: The
method is based on the idealization of three
dimensional slab and column system by a series of two dimensional frames in longitudinal and
Chapter 3: Twoway slab actionsFlat slab by Tesfaye T.
transverse directions. Each frame consists of a slabbeam element bounded laterally by the center
line of panels on each side of the center of supports as shown below. Frames adjacent and parallel
to an edge shall be bounded by the edge and the center line of the adjacent panel. Equivalent
frames are analyzed for loads either vertical or horizontal acting in their plane by the elastic
method of analysis.
l2c
2
Exterior Equivalent Frame
l2 c
l2 b
l2 a l2 b
2
Interior Equivalent Frame
l2 a
l1a
l1b
l1c
hn
h2
h1
Fig: Typical Equivalent Frame (either for Interior or Exterior panel)
In equivalent frame analysis, the stiffness of section of beamslab or column may be based on the
gross section of concrete. Uniform crosssection (neglecting drop, column head and edge beam)
may be adopted for determining the stiffness of slabbeam and column element. According to
EBCS2, the width of slab used to define the stiffness of slab may be taken as:
a) Full width of panel, if the frame is analyzed for vertical loading,
b) Half width of the panel, if the frame is analyzed for lateral loading.
Equivalent frame may be analyzed for single load case of maximum design load applied on all
spans simultaneously, provided;
a) The live load does not exceed 1.25 times the dead load, and
b) The characteristic live load does not exceed 5kN/m 2 excluding partitions.
If different load case is to be considered, the analysis of equivalent frame is based on the
following vertical live load arrangement:
Chapter 3: Twoway slab actionsFlat slab by Tesfaye T.
(a) All spans loaded with maximum design load, and
(b) Alternate spans loaded with maximum design load and all other spans loaded with
minimum design load (1.0DL).
The entire equivalent frame may be analyzed using any elastic method under both vertical and
lateral loading. However, a simplified approach of analysis based on substitute frame idealization
may be adopted if the frame carrying vertical loads only. But, approximate method for analysis of
frames for lateral loads such as portal frame or cantilever methods are not recommended for
analysis of equivalent frame. The results obtained by this method give unacceptably large errors.
If the flat slab analyzed by equivalent frame method also satisfying the requirements of analysis
by the direct design method, the sum of positive moment and the average negative moments at
faces of supports determined by the equivalent frame method should be greater than that obtained
by the direct design method. Other wise, the moments determined by the equivalent frame
method are to be increased in such proportion that the total design moment obtained by direct
design method to the sum of positive moment and the average negative moments at faces of
supports.
i.e
If
n1
M n2
Mp < 0.125F.Le , then increase Mn1, Mn2 and Mp by multiplying
2
0.125 F .Le
with the factor, M n1 M n 2
.
Mp
2
where Mn1 & Mn2 are negative moments at the faces of supports.
Effective Column Stiffness in Flatslab System
Even if a flat plate is supported on very stiff columns, the slab spans are not really fixed at the
column. The slab strip framing directly into the column is fixed over the column width, but the
parallel strips furthest from the column are restrained only by the next slab span and practically
none at all by the column itself. The torsional restraint that the slab could transfer laterally to this
strip is nearly negligible.
Reduced column effectiveness is a major concept in ACI code treatment of equivalent frame
analysis. The reduced equivalent stiffness of column shall be obtained taking the sum of the
inverse of stiffness of actual column above and below the slab, and the inverse of the stiffness of
the attached torsion member as given below.
4E . I c
1
1
1
where K c
K ec
Kt
lc
Kc
From which equivalent stiffness of the column is obtained by
Kc
K ec
where
K t
K c sum of the stiffness of column above and below
Kt
Kc
sum of torsional stiffness of slabbeam on either side of the column
Chapter 3: Twoway slab actionsFlat slab by Tesfaye T.
Torsional Stiffness of Transversebeam (Slabbeam)
ACI code provides torsional stiffness of the attached torsional member used for analysis of
equivalent frame as follows:
9 Ec . C
Kt
c
l2 . 1 2
l2
where C torsional constant of the xsection of torsional member (slabbeam)
Ec modulus of elasticity of slab concrete
l2 span of member subjected to torsion
sign indicates doubling for the twoarm
Torsional Constant of Transverse Torsional Member
Torsional constant C of transverse torsional member considering the torque of noncircular
member is given by ACI as
x x3 . y
C 1 0.63 .
y
3
where x, y are smaller dimension of various rectangules making up the crosssection of torsional
member.
The xsection of torsional member, where no beam stem is present, defined as the beam as a width
of slab equal to the column width; where a beam stem is present, the beam includes the stem plus
the adjoining slab on each side of the width equal to 4t slab or, if smaller, the stem projecting
above or blow the slab.
Design of Flat slab
8
Chapter 3: Twoway slab actionsFlat slab by Tesfaye T.
(a) Design for moment: Generally
thickness of slab is governed by deflection
requirement. The reinforcements of slab are determined to resist the positive and negative
moments at the critical section in the column and middle strip of slab panels. The section of slab
is designed as under reinforced section. For slab with drop panels, the reinforcement at the face of
the support may be determined based on the thickness of the drop. However, in some cases, the
thickness of drop may be very large mainly from the consideration of punching shear. Therefore,
the thickness of drop used to determine the reinforcement is the sum of thickness of slab and th
of the distance between the edge of the drop to the edge of the column capital.
The reinforcement for maximum design moments are provided along the span of slab satisfying
the necessary curtailment rule given by the code (Refer Minimum bendpoint locations and
extensions of the reinforcement for flatslab given on separate page). The pattern of
reinforcement of flat slab using straight bars may be shown in figure shown below.
column
strip
middle strip
column strip
middle
strip
middle
strip
column
strip
middle
strip
column
strip
Section through col. strip
Section through middle strip
Fig: Pattern of Flexural Reinforcement if straightbars are used
Limitation of Reinforcement in Flat slabs (EBCS2/95)
9
Chapter 3: Twoway slab actionsFlat slab by Tesfaye T.
 Minimum reinforcement ratio is given by:
min
0 .5
fy
where, f y in MPa
 Maximum spacing of reinforcement shall not exceed the smaller of:
2tslab
350mm

In no case the reinforcement ratio determined by flexure be greater than the balanced
reinforcement ratio, bal . And, the minimum clearspacing between bars shall be the larger of
20mm
bar
5mm
agg
(b)Design for punching shear: limit
state for punchingshear is characterized by the
formation of a truncated punchingcone or pyramid around concentrated loads or reaction
(column load). According to EBCS2/BS8110, these conical or pyramid shaped surface is
replaced by an equivalent fictitious vertical surface located at distance 1.5d out from the face of
the load area (column or capital or drop) as shown below.
The critical sections for punching shear shown below are applicable for the following
types of loaded area:
 Rectangular loaded area: the perimeter not exceeding 11d, and ratio of length to breadth not
exceeding 2.0.
 Circular loaded area: the diameter not exceeding 3.5d.
 For any other shape: the perimeter not exceeding 11d.
Critical
section
Critical
section
d
1.5d
1.5d
1.5dd
Critical
section
dd
ds
1.5ds
1.5d
1.5d
1.5d
1.5d
1.5d
10
Chapter 3: Twoway slab actionsFlat slab by Tesfaye T.
1.5d
Also, the loaded area is not close to other concentrated forces where their critical perimeters
Fig: Critical
section
for satisfied,
punchingthe
shear
intersect. If the above
conditions
area not
critical reduced perimeters shown below
shall be used.
a>b
a1 2b
(5.6d b )
1
b
b1 2
b1 2
a1 2
b1
a1 2
2.8d
In case of columns near the free edge of the slab, the critical section for punching shear shall be
taken on continuous edges only as shown below. And, its length is smaller than the length of the
closed out line.
Free Edge
Free Edge
1.5d
1.5d
1.5d
1.5d
1.5d
When the openings in the slab are located at a distance less than 6d from the edge of the
concentrated load, then that part of the perimeter which is enclosed by radial projections from the
centroid of the loaded area to the opening is considered ineffective as shown below. If the size of
hole is less than of column side or of slab depth, the presence of hole may be ignored.
l1 l 2
6d
For l1 l2 , replace
l2 by
1.5d
l2
l1 . l2
opening
ineffective
The shear stress developed around the critical section is given by
V
vd d
b0 . d
Where Vd= design shear force on critical section given by
= Load on the tributary area minus the load on area with in the critical section.
b0= perimeter of the critical section for punching shear
11
Chapter 3: Twoway slab actionsFlat slab by Tesfaye T.
dx dy
d = effective depth of slab d
2
Since shear reinforcements (stirrups) are not convenient in slab and difficult to anchor in the
shallow depth, the thickness of slab must be adequate for punching shear. Therefore, for flat slab
with no shear reinforcement, the shear stress at critical section is less than or equal to the
punching shear resistance of the slab.
v v
i.e
The punching shear resistance of slab vRd1 shall be given by EBCS 2 :
vRd 1 0.25 f ctd . k1 . k 2
(without shear reinforcement)
Where k1 (1 50 e ) 2.0
d
Rd 1
k 2 (1.6 d ) 1.0
( where d in meter)
For members where more than 50% of the bottom reinforcement is curtailed, k 2=1.
e
x y 0.015
0.35 f cu
0.21 (0.8 f cu ) 2 / 3
EBCS 2 or
ESCP 2 / 83
f ctd
c
c
If the shear stress at the critical section exceeds the punching shear resistance of the slab but not
less 1.6 times the punching shear resistance of the slab, shear reinforcement shall be provided for
excess shear up to a section where the shear stress does not exceed 0.5 times the shear strength of
slab. The sum of area of shear reinforcement within the critical perimeter is obtained by:
v vRd 1 . b0 . d Vd vRd 1 . b0 . d
Asv d
f yd
f yd
The shear reinforcement shall be provided along the perimeter of the column. The spacing of
stirrups shall not exceed 0.75d. If shear stress developed in slab exceeds 1.6 times the shear
strength of slab, the flat slab shall be redesigned with increased thickness of slab.
Note that: flat slab containing shear reinforcement shall have t min = 200mm.
f ctd
 For diagonal compression failure of flat slab, the punching shear force at the critical section
shall not exceed diagonal compression resistance as given below.
V V
0.25 f . t . b
i.e
d
where
12
Rd 1
cd
Vd punching shear force developed in slab
b0 perimeter of critical section for punching shear
Chapter 3: Twoway slab actionsFlat slab by Tesfaye T.
Moment Transfer between slab and column
When gravityload, windload, earthquakeload or other lateral forces causes transfer of moment
between slab and column, a fraction of the unbalanced moment shall be transferred by flexure.
The fraction of the unbalanced moment given by:
1
1
1
b1 / b2
where, b1length of critical section in the direction of moment
b2 the other length of critical section
The moment transferred by flexure ( . Munbal ) shall be distributed over on effective slab width
between lines (1.5t slab) or (1.5 tdrop)out side the opposite face of the column or capital. The
remaining unbalanced moment (1)Munbal shall be transferred by eccentricity of shear. Therefore,
the punching shear force is an equivalent shear force given by:
Veq = .Vd
Where Vd concentric shear force
e. u . d
1 2 .
z
e eccentricity of load with respect to centroid of the critical section, always positive
z section modulus of critical section, corresponding to the direction of eccentricity
1
1
b2 b1
fraction of unbalancedmoment transferred by eccentricshear
Conservative estimate of for flatslab with approximately equal spans is obtained by
1.15 for int erior column
= 1.40 for edge column
1.50 for corner column
Concentration of Reinforcement over the Column
It is difficult to transfer moment from slab to column (as at an exterior column), or from column
to slab (as in resistance to wind or earthquake moments) directly. If direct transfer of moment is
possible, ACI code consider direct transfer of moment only through reinforcement that passes
through the column itself or within a width 1.5t slab on each side of column.
Some concentration of column strip negative moment steel within the specified width may be
necessary for direct transfer of moment to the column. In direct design method, ACI code gives an
equation defining the moment to be transferred to columns above and below the joint. This
equation is based on two adjoining spans, possibly of different lengths, that have full dead load
plus live load on the longer span, although only dead load is acting on the shorter span. Code
specifies that unless a general analysis is made, the moment to be resisted by the supports is
M unbal . 0.07 wD 0.5wL . l2 . ln wD ' . l2 ' . ln '2
13
Chapter 3: Twoway slab actionsFlat slab by Tesfaye T.
where the primes refer to the shorter span values
Opening in Flat slab (ESCP 2/83)
Opening of any size may be provided in slab system if shown by analysis that the design strength
is at least equal to the required strength, and that all serviceability conditions including the
specified limits on deflections are met. In lieu of special analysis, Openings may be provided in
flat slab only in accordance with the following:
1. Opening of any size (not exceeding 0.4 l ) may be located in area common to intersecting
middle strips, provided total amount of reinforcement required for the panel with out the opening
is maintained.
2. In the area common to intersecting column strips, not more than 1/8 of the width of column
strip in either span shall be interrupted by Openings. An amount of reinforcement equivalent to
that interrupted by an opening shall be added on the sides of the opening.
3. In the area common to one column strip and one middle strip, not more than 1/4 of the
reinforcement in either strip shall be interrupted by openings. An amount of reinforcement
equivalent to that interrupted by an opening shall be added on the sides of the opening.
When opening in slabs are large (as for stairs or elevators), beams must be used around the
openings. These beams should be designed to carry a portion of floor load, in addition to loads
directly applied by partition walls, elevator support beams, stair slabs etc. Good practice usually
requires that these beams be framed in to column sufficiently to provide a stable unit without the
slab.
14
Chapter 3: Twoway slab actionsFlat slab by Tesfaye T.