Reinforced Concrete Design of Simply Supported One-Way Solid Slab to BS8110

strength of materials used in this article

weight of concrete = 24kN/m³

Characteristic strength of concrete fcu = 25N/mm²

Characteristic strength of steel ?y = 460N/mm²

General procedure for design of solid slabs to BS Code.

1.Determine a suitable slab depth;  you can easily estimate this by using the formula stated below;

Effective depth = span/( basic ratio × modification factor)

Span/effective depth ratios

For a simply supported design, the basic ratio is = 20 ( table 3.9, page 35 of BS 8110 part 1 : 1997). Use an initial modification factor (m.f) of 1.4.

Also the architect/ engineer may specify the slab thickness for you. 

However, your slab design must satisfy deflection requirements otherwise you will have to redesign. 

Ways to make your design slab satisfy deflection requirements if failed initially is to either increase slab thickness or amount of reinforcement or both. 

2. Calculate the main and secondary reinforcement areas; you can do this by using the formulas stated in the BS code. ( Details later)

3. Check for excessive deflection ; as stated earlier in number 1, your design must satisfy deflection requirements. 

4. Detailing requirements;  the economical arrangement of steel reinforcement. You can refer to clause, BS 8110. An explanatory diagram is shown below for a simply  supported case.

Detailing requirements for simply supported (a) & continuous ( b) slabs

It means that 40% of the reinforcement placed around the center of the slab ( which is critical) only, should extend to the edges of the slab ( which is less critical). 

Explanation of other important points in solid slab design to BS 8110

Effective span of slab:

Referring to the diagram above, the effective span of slab refers to ‘A’ the distance between the centers of bearings,  or the clear distance between supports ‘D’, plus effective depth of slab ‘d’.

Calculating steel areas.

In calculating the slab self weight, the overall depth of the slab referred to as ‘h’, should be used. h is the effective depth of slab plus allowance for cover to reinforcement plus half the assumed main steel diameter bar.

The self weight of the slab together with the dead and live load is used to determine the design moment ‘M’.

The value of M must be checked against the value of Mú which is the ultimate moment of resistance

Mú = 0.156fcubd²

Where b=1000mm and fcu = strength of concrete.

If Mú ≥ M then the slab doesn’t need compression reinforcement which is usually the case.

Main reinforcement steel areas

The area of reinforcement Aₛ can be determined using Aₛ= M÷(0.87?yz) where,

M = design moment= WL²/8 (for simply supported slab)

W = design load of slab in kN/m²

L = span of slab in meters.

?y= strength of steel

 z = d[0.5 + √ (0.25 – K/0.9)] and 

K= M / fcubd²

Secondary reinforcement steel areas

Secondary reinforcement also refers to distribution steel. As per BS 8110, it is calculated as follows;

Aₛ min = 0.24% Ac  when ?y = 250N/mm²

Aₛ min = 0.13% Ac  when ?y = 460N/mm²

Check that your slab design meets deflection requirements

Design service stress, fs = (2 ?y As req.) ÷ ( (3 As prov), (table 3.10 page 36 of BS 8110 part 1 1997.)

Where As req & As prov is the area of steel calculated and the area of steel provided, respectively.

Modification factor;

 m.f  =  0.55 + (477 – fs) ÷[120 ( 0.9 + M/bd²)] ≤ 2

Now this m.f is your actual m.f since it is a function of  the area of steel calculated and area of steel provided.

Use this new m.f to replace the m.f you initially assumed to be 1.4 in the equation;

Effective depth; d = span/( basic ratio × modification factor).

you can also determine m.f from the table below

If the assumed  value of d is greater than actual d, then deflection requirements are satisfied.

Crack widths

The BS code specifies that crack width should not exceed 0.3mm. except by calculation, the following rules should ensure crack width requirements are satisfied;

fy = 250N/mm² and depth of slab ≤ 250mm 


fy  = 460N/mm² and depth of slab ≤ 200mm


the percentage of reinforcement ( 100As/bd) ≤ 0.3%

Maximum bar spacing of reinforcement

BS code specifies that the clear distance between tension bars should be less than 3d or 750mm whichever is the lesser.

Example design of a simply supported solid slab

From the diagram of part of a floor plan shown above, I will be designing the panel labeled A. 

The first thing to check is if the slab is a one or two way slab. By observing the dimensions relating to the slab panel, the longer side is

3401 + 587 + 1225 = 5213mm

The shorter side of the panel is

1150 + 1225 = 2375mm

Therefore longer side ÷ shorter side =

5213÷2375=  2.19 ≥ 2;

Panel A is a one way slab.

This means that the main reinforcement bars will span along the y- axis ( shorter side) and the distribution bar will span along the x – axis ( longer side).

direction of main reinforcement

Note that in a one way slab, the span of the slab is the shorter side. The span of the slab panel A being designed is 2375mm.

Further observation of the slab panel will show that its thickness  (overall depth of slab) has been given as 150mm;

h = 150mm

Your duty as the designer is to calculate the required steel reinforcement and check if the design satisfies deflection requirements. If the slab thickness wasn’t given then you are free to assume a thickness and then check that it works.

Calculating the Design load.

The formula stated by BS code is

1.4Gk + 1.6Qk

where Gk = dead load

Qk = live load

dead load is the self weight of the slab plus finishes

Live load refers to variable or movable loads such as people, furniture etc, the slab carries. Live loads for different categories of buildings are stated in BS 6399 part 1: 1997.

Gk = weight of concrete x slab thickness

     = 24kN/m³ x 0.15m ( slab thickness of 150mm)

= 3.6kN/m²,  plus finishes of say 1.2 kN/m² which gives a total gk of

4.8kN/m² ;

Gk = 4.8kN/m²

For private dwellings, Qk = 1.5kN/m² (see table 1 of BS 6399 part 1: 1997)

Design load = 1.4gk + 1.6qk

=( 1.4x 4.8 + 1.6 x 1.5) kN/m²

= 9.12kN/m² per m width ( slabs are designed per m width.)

Design moment M = WL²/8

where W = design load and L = span of slab

W=[ 9.12kN/m² x ( 2.375m)² ] / 8

= 6.43kNm

ultimate moment of resistance

Mu= 0.156fcubd²

Now d = effective depth of slab which can be estimated as overall depth of slab minus concrete cover to reinforcement minus half of main steel diameter

I.e. d = 150mm – 25mm – 6mm = 119mm.

( 25mm is concrete cover to reinforcement and 6mm is half the diameter of 12mm steel rod)

b = 1000mm ( slabs are designed per m width)

fcu  = 25N/mm² ( strength of concrete)

Mu = 0.156 x 25N/mm² x 1000mm x (119mm)² = 55.2279 x 10⁶ Nmm 

= 55.23kNm

Since M < Mu no compression reinforcement is required.

K= M / fcubd²

= 6.43 x 10⁶/ ( 25 x 1000 x 119²)


z = d[0.5 + √ (0.25 – K/0.9)]

= 119[ 0.5 + ✓ ( 0.25 – 0.0182/0.9)]

= 116.54mm ≤ 0.95d

Limiting to 0.95d

0.95d = 113.05; use z= 113.05


Aₛ= M÷(0.87fyz)

= 6.43 x 10⁶ ÷ ( 0.87 x 460 x 113.05) 

Aₛ required. = 142.12 mm²/m width of slab

From fig. 1 shown above, use Y10 bars at 200mm spacings as main steel reinforcement


Y10- 200

Aₛ provided = 393 mm²/m

Distribution reinforcement

Minimum Steel reinforcement specified by code  = 0.13%bh

= 0.13% x 1000 x 150

Aₛ minimum required.= 195 mm²/m

With reference to fig 1, use Y10 – 250 bars. Aₛ = 314mm²/m

Note that the calculated required reinforcement is less than the minimum reinforcement specified by code, in this case the minimum reinforcement specified by code supersedes and should be used to select provided steel. Also using Y10- 200 as main and distribution steel is OK. It’s your design, you are in charge, just make sure you follow the code requirements and design laying emphasis on economy.


Deflection check

Design service stress, 

fs = 2 fy As req./ (3 As prov)

 = 2×460×142.12÷(3×393)


fs = 110.9N/mm²

m.f  =  0.55 + (477 – fs) ÷[120 ( 0.9 + M/bd²)] ≤ 2

= 0.55 + (477- 110.9)÷[120(0.9 + (6.43 x 10⁶/100 x119²)]

=2.80 ≤ 2

Since m.f is limited to 2,

Hence, m.f = 2

dmin = span / basic ratio x m.f

          = 2375mm / (20 x 2)

          = 59.375mm 

59.375mm ≤ 119mm hence deflection is satisfied.

Crack width check

Since the slab is less than or equal to 200mm thick, crack width check is satisfied

Maximum spacing check

The reinforcement spacing of 200mm for main steel and 250 mm for distribution steel is less than  3d ( 3 x 119 = 357mm) hence maximum spacing check is satisfied.

The Economics of Reinforced Concrete Slab Design (In-situ)

slab construction

Reinforced concrete slabs can be divided into 2 types. They are In situ and precast slab. Insitu means a slab cast in place. Precast means that the slab is produced somewhere else and then transported to site for installation.

Cast in place slabs are further divided into 3 types. They are solid slab, flat slab and ribbed slab.

Solid slabs refers to slabs supported by beams or walls. They are economical up to spans of 5m

Flat slab refers to  a slab supported by columns only. The main advantage flat slabs have over solid slabs is that they are easier to construct. Also, widows can extend to the underside of a flat slab since it doesn’t require beams for support. The main disadvantage for these types of slab is that they are prone to punching shear. Flat slabs are economical for spans ranging from 5m to 9m.

Ribbed slabs are Slabs in which part of the slab in the tension zone has been omitted thereby reducing its weight considerably. They have higher formwork costs compared to other slab systems.Ribbed slabs are economical for spans ranging from 8m – 12m. 

How to Calculate Design Load of a Concrete Slab (factored)

In reinforced concrete design , there is what is called the factor of safety. The factor of safety is multiplied by the calculated load of the structural element. This is done to reduce the possibility of the structural element failing under its actual, or expected loadings.

When the factor of safety has been applied to the calculated load of a structural element, it is called design load. Note that Factored load is also the same as design load.

Determining the Design (factored) load of a Concrete Slab.

The formula for calculating the design load of a Concrete Slab is:

1.4gk + 1.6qk.


gk= dead load

qk= live load

1.4= factor of safety applied to dead load

1.6= factor of safety applied to live load.

Dead load is the same as the weight of the concrete slab element. 

Live load is the movable or variable load the slab will carry such as people, furniture,machinery and so on. 

The unit of the design load will be in kN/m².

The weight of concrete used in reinforced concrete design calculation is 24kN/m³

Example 1 calculating design load of slab

concrete slab panel

Let’s say a concrete slab panel is to be designed for a private dwelling. It  has a depth ( thickness) of 0.2m, a length of 5m, and a width of 3m as shown above, the design load can be calculated as follows:

The dead load of the slab panel is the weight of concrete multiplied by the slab thickness.

That is,

24kN/m³ × 0.2m = 4.8kN/m²

Therefore gk = 4.8kN/m²

Live loads for buildings are standardized. In page 2 of BS 6399 part 1, the live load for private dwellings is 1.5kN/m² (shown below)

Table minimum imposed floor loads.BS 6399 part 1

Therefore qk= 1.5kN/m²

Design load= 1.4gk+1.6qk=( 1.4×4.8kN/m²) + (1.6×1.5kN/m²) = 6.72kN/m² + 2.4kN/m²


Example 2. calculating design load of slab

Looking at part of a floor plan shown below, we will be calculating the design load for the floor plan labelled P8 as shown.Take live load for private dwellings as 1.5kN/m².

Part of general floor arrangement plan of a proposed building


The depth of the slab panel is 150mm or 0.15m

We know that the formula for  design load of slab panel is  1.4gk + 1.6qk and weight of concrete is 24kN/m³

Dead load, gk, = weight of concrete multiplied by panel thickness= 24kN/m³ × 0.15m = 3.6kN/m²

Live load , qk=1.5kN/m². (page 2 of BS 6399 part 1)

Design load is 1.4gk + 1.6qk=

(1.4×3.6kN/m²)+(1.6×1.5kN/m²)= 7.44kN/m²

Slab Design load is used for the calculation of the amount of steel reinforcement required for the slab panel.