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What are the functions of different reinforcement in a typical pile cap?

Loads from columns transferring to pile cap induce tensile forces at the bottom of the cap. For instance, by using truss analogy to analyze a pile cap sitting on two piles with a column at the centre of the pile cap, the tensile force at the bottom is proportional to the pile spacing and is inversely proportional to depth of pile cap. The bottom reinforcement is designed to resist the tensile stressed generated from loads in columns.

Side reinforcement may not be necessary in pile cap (L.A. Clark (1983)). In fact, the primary aim of the side reinforcement is to control cracking. However, as most pile caps are hidden from view and it is considered not necessary to provide side reinforcement to pile caps based on aesthetic reason.


Sometimes, reinforcement may be designed at the top of pile caps which serve as compression reinforcement. This type of reinforcement is required in case there is a limitation on the depth of pile caps. Similarly shear reinforcement is introduced to the pile caps in case there is a restriction to the depth of pile caps.

L. A. Clark (1983) Concrete Bridge Design to BS5400 Construction Press, Longman Group Limited pp.94

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.

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Kanwarjot Singh

Kanwarjot Singh is the founder of Civil Engineering Portal, a leading civil engineering website which has been awarded as the best online publication by CIDC. He did his BE civil from Thapar University, Patiala and has been working on this website with his team of Civil Engineers.

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