Mix Design For Concrete Roads As Per IRC:15-2011

Kaushal Kishore, Materials Engineer, Roorkee

The stresses induced in concrete pavements are mainly flexural. Therefore flexural strength is more often specified than compressive strength in the design of concrete mixes for pavement construction. A simple method of concrete mix design based on flexural strength for normal weight concrete mixes is described in the paper.

Usual criterion for the strength of concrete in the building industry is the compressive strength, which is considered as a measure of quality concrete. However, in pavement constructions, such as highway and airport runway, the flexural strength of concrete is considered more important, as the stresses induced in concrete pavements are mainly flexural. Therefore, flexural strength is more often specified than compressive strength in the design of concrete mixes for pavement construction. It is not perfectly reliable to predict flexural strength from compressive strength. Further, various codes of the world specified that the paving concrete mixes should preferably be designed in the laboratory and controlled in the field on the basis of its flexural strength. Therefore, there is a need to design concrete mixes based on flexural strength.
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Understanding Nominal and Design Mixes

Kaushal Kishore
Materials Engineer, Roorkee

Cement concrete in India on large scale is being used since the last about 70 years. In the early days the following nominal ratio by volume for concrete were specified.











Correspond to M-15 Grade






Correspond to M-20 Grade






Correspond to M-25 Grade

IS : 456-2000 has recommended that minimum grade of concrete shall be not less than M-20 in reinforced concrete work. Design mix concrete is preferred to nominal mix. If design mix concrete cannot be used for any reason on the work for grades of M-20 or lower, nominal mixes may be used with the permission of engineer-in-charge, which however is likely to involve a higher cement content.
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What is Marshall Mix Design for Bituminous Materials?

The Marshall Mix Design method was originally developed by Bruce Marshall of the Mississippi Highway Department in 1939. The main idea of the Marshall Mix Design method involves the selection of the asphalt binder content with a suitable density which satisfies minimum stability and range of flow values.


The Marshall Mix Design method consists mainly of the following steps:

(i) Determination of physical properties, size and gradation of aggregates.

(ii) Selection of types of asphalt binder.

(iii) Prepare initial samples, each with different asphalt binder content.
For example, three samples are made each at 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0 and 6.5 percent asphalt by dry weight for a total of 15 samples. There should be at least two samples above and two below the estimated optimum asphalt content.

(iv) Plot the following graphs:

(a) Asphalt binder content vs. density
(b) Asphalt binder content vs. Marshall stability
(c) Asphalt binder content vs. flow
(d) Asphalt binder content vs. air voids
(e) Asphalt binder content vs. voids in mineral aggregates
(f) Asphalt binder content vs voids filled with asphalt

(v) Determine the asphalt binder content which corresponds to the air void content of 4 percent

(vi) Determine properties at this optimum asphalt binder content by reference with the graphs. Compare each of these values against design requirements and if all comply with design requirements, then the selected optimum asphalt binder content is acceptable. Otherwise, the mixture should be redesigned.



This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

What is the principle of Asphalt Mix Design?

The main objective of asphalt mix design is to achieve a mix with economical blending of aggregates with asphalt to achieve the following :

(i) workability to facilitate easy placement of bituminous materials without experiencing segregation;
(ii) sufficient stability so that under traffic loads the pavement will not undergo distortion and displacement;
(iii) durability by having sufficient asphalt;
(iv) sufficient air voids


In asphalt mix design, high durability is usually obtained at the expense of low stability. Hence, a balance has to be stricken between the durability and stability requirements.

This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

10 Things to Remember when doing Concrete Mix Design

Good quality concrete starts with the quality of materials, cost effective designs is actually a by-product of selecting the best quality material and good construction practices. Following are 10 Things to remember during Concrete Mix Design and Concrete Trials.

1. ACI and other standards only serves as a guide, initial designs must be confirmed by laboratory trial and plant trial, adjustments on the design shall be done during trial mixes. Initial design “on paper” is never the final design.

2. Always carry out trial mixes using the materials for actual use.

3. Carry out 2 or 3 design variations for every design target.

4. Consider always the factor of safety, (1.125, 1.2, 1.25, 1.3 X target strength)

5. Before proceeding to plant trials, always confirm the source of materials to be the same as the one used in the laboratory trials.

6. Check calibration of batching plant.

7. Carry out full tests of fresh concrete at the batching plant, specially the air content and yield which is very important in commercial batching plants.

8. Correct quality control procedures at the plant will prevent future concrete problems.

9. Follow admixture recommendations from your supplier

10. Check and verify strength development, most critical stage is the 3 and 7 days strength.

Important note:
Technical knowledge is an advantage for batching plant staff, even if you have good concrete design but uncommon or wrong procedures are practiced it will eventually result to failures.

We at are thankful to Tumi J. Mbaiwa for submitting these 10 points which are helpful to each and every civil engineer.

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