Reinforced concrete, as a structural material, is widely used in many types of structures. It is competitive with steel if economically designed and executed.
The advantages of reinforced concrete can be summarized as follows:
- It has a relatively high compressive strength;
- It has better resistance to fire than steel;
- It has a long service life with low maintenance cost;
- In some types of structures, such as dams, piers, and footings, it is the most economical structural material;
- It can be cast to take the shape required, making it widely used in precast structural components. It yields rigid members with minimum apparent deflection.
The disadvantages of reinforced concrete can be summarized as follows:
- It has a low tensile strength of about one-tenth of its compressive strength;
- It needs mixing, casting, and curing, all of which affect the final strength of concrete;
- The cost of the forms used to cast of concrete placed in the forms;
- It has a low compressive strength as compared to steel (the ratio is about 1:10, depending on materials), which leads to large sections in columns of multistory buildings;
- Cracks develop in concrete due to shrinkage and the application of live loads.