A tied rebar beam cage. This will be embedded inside cast concrete to increase the tensile strength of the concrete.

A rebar (short for reinforcing bar), also known as reinforcing steel, reinforcement steel, rerod, or a deformed bar, is a common steel bar, and is commonly used as a tensioning device in reinforced concrete and reinforced masonry structures holding the concrete in compression. It is usually formed from carbon steel, and is given ridges for better mechanical anchoring into the concrete. In Australia, it is colloquially known as reo.



Rebars inside the Leaning Tower of Nevyansk.

Rebars were known in construction well before the era of the modern reinforced concrete. Some 150 years before its invention rebars were used to form the carcass of the Leaning Tower of Nevyansk in Russia, built on the orders of the industrialist Akinfiy Demidov. The purpose of such construction is one of the many mysteries of the tower. The cast iron used for rebars was of very high quality, and there is no corrosion on them up to this day. The carcass of the tower was connected to its cast iron tented roof, crowned with the first lightning rod in the Western world. This lightning rod was grounded through the carcass, though it is not clear whether the effect was intentional. [1]

Use in concrete and masonry

Concrete is a material that is very strong in compression, but relatively weak in tension. To compensate for this imbalance in concrete's behavior, rebar is cast into it to carry the tensile loads.

Masonry structures and the mortar holding them together have similar properties to concrete and also have a limited ability to carry tensile loads. Some standard masonry units like blocks and bricks are made with strategically placed voids to accommodate rebar, which is then secured in place with grout. This combination is known as reinforced masonry.

While any material with sufficient tensile strength could conceivably be used to reinforce concrete, steel and concrete have similar coefficients of thermal expansion: a concrete structural member reinforced with steel will experience minimal stress as a result of differential expansions of the two interconnected materials caused by temperature changes.

Physical characteristics

Steel has an expansion coefficient nearly equal to that of modern concrete. If this were not so, it would cause problems through additional longitudinal and perpendicular stresses at temperatures different than the temperature of the setting.[2] Although rebar has ribs that bind it mechanically to the concrete, it can still be pulled out of the concrete under high stresses, an occurrence that often precedes a larger-scale collapse of the structure. To prevent such a failure, rebar is either deeply embedded into adjacent structural members (40-60 times the diameter), or bent and hooked at the ends to lock it around the concrete and other rebar. This first approach increases the friction locking the bar into place, while the second makes use of the high compressive strength of concrete.

Common rebar is made of unfinished tempered steel, making it susceptible to rusting. Normally the concrete cover is able to provide a pH value higher than 12 avoiding the corrosion reaction. Too little concrete cover can compromise this guard through carbonation from the surface. Too much concrete cover can cause bigger crack widths which also compromises the local guard. As rust takes up greater volume than the steel from which it was formed, it causes severe internal pressure on the surrounding concrete, leading to cracking, spalling, and ultimately, structural failure. This is a particular problem where the concrete is exposed to salt water, as in bridges built in areas where salt is applied to roadways in winter, or in marine applications. Epoxy-coated, galvanized or stainless steel rebars may be employed in these situations at greater initial expense, but significantly lower expense over the service life of the project. Special care must be taken during the installation of epoxy-coated rebar, because even small cracks and failures in the coating can lead to intensified local chemical reactions not visible at the surface.

Fiber-reinforced polymer rebar is now also being used in high-corrosion environments. It is available in many forms, from spirals for reinforcing columns, to the common rod, to meshes and many other forms. Most commercially available rebars are made from unidirectional glassfibre reinforced thermoset resins.

Sizes and grades

U.S. sizes

Imperial bar designations represent the bar diameter in fractions of inch, such that #8 = 8⁄8 inch = 1 inch diameter. Area = (bar size/9)2 such that area of #8 = (8/9)2 = 0.79 in2. This applies to #8 bars and smaller. Larger bars have a slightly larger diameter than the one computed using the inch convention.


Bar Size


Metric Size

Weight per unit length


Mass per unit length


Nominal Diameter


Nominal Diameter


Nominal Area


Nominal Area


#3 #10 0.376 0.561 0.375 = 9.525 0.11 71
#4 #13 0.668 0.996 0.500 = ½ 12.7 0.20 129
#5 #16 1.043 1.556 0.625 = 15.875 0.31 200
#6 #19 1.502 2.24 0.750 = ¾ 19.05 0.44 284
#7 #22 2.044 3.049 0.875 = 22.225 0.60 387
#8 #25 2.670 3.982 1.000 25.4 0.79 509
#9 #29 3.400 5.071 1.128 28.65 1.00 645
#10 #32 4.303 6.418 1.270 32.26 1.27 819
#11 #36 5.313 7.924 1.410 35.81 1.56 1006
#12 #40 6.424 9.619 1.50 38.1 1.76 1140
#14 #43 7.650 11.41 1.693 43 2.25 1452
#18 #57 13.60 20.284 2.257 57.33 4.00 2581

Canadian sizes

Metric bar designations represent the nominal bar diameter in millimeters, rounded to the nearest 5 mm.


Bar Size

Mass per unit length


Nominal Diameter



Area (mm²)

10M 0.785 11.3 100
15M 1.570 16.0 200
20M 2.355 19.5 300
25M 3.925 25.2 500
30M 5.495 29.9 700
35M 7.850 35.7 1000
45M 11.775 43.7 1500
55M 19.625 56.4 2500

European sizes

Metric bar designations represent the nominal bar diameter in millimetres. Bars in Europe will be specified to comply with the standard EN 10080 (awaiting introduction as of early 2007), although various national standards still remain in force (e.g. BS 4449 in the United Kingdom).


Bar Size

Mass per unit length


Nominal Diameter



Area (mm²)

6,0 0.222 6 28.3
8,0 0.395 8 50.3
10,0 0.617 10 78.5
12,0 0.888 12 113
14,0 1.21 14 154
16,0 1.579 16 201
20,0 2.467 20 314
25,0 3.855 25 491
28,0 4.83 28 616
32,0 6.316 32 804
40,0 9.868 40 1257
50,0 15.413 50 1963


Rebar is available in different grades and specifications that vary in yield strength, ultimate tensile strength, chemical composition, and percentage of elongation.

The grade designation is equal to the minimum yield strength of the bar in ksi (1000 psi) for example grade 60 rebar has a minimum yield strength of 60 ksi. Rebar is typically manufactured in grades 40, 60, and 75.

Common ASTM specification are:[3]

  • ASTM A82: Specification for Plain Steel Wire for Concrete Reinforcement
  • ASTM A184/A184M: Specification for Fabricated Deformed Steel Bar Mats for Concrete Reinforcement
  • ASTM A185: Specification for Welded Plain Steel Wire Fabric for Concrete Reinforcement
  • ASTM A496: Specification for Deformed Steel Wire for Concrete Reinforcement
  • ASTM A497: Specification for Welded Deformed Steel Wire Fabric for Concrete Reinforcement
  • ASTM A615/A615M: Deformed and plain carbon-steel bars for concrete reinforcement
  • ASTM A616/A616M: Specification for Rail-Steel Deformed and Plain Bars for Concrete Reinforcement
  • ASTM A617/A617M: Specification for Axle-Steel Deformed and Plain Bars for Concrete Reinforcement
  • ASTM A706/A706M: Low-alloy steel deformed and plain bars for concrete reinforcement
  • ASTM A767/A767M: Specification for Zinc-Coated(Galvanized) Steel Bars for Concrete Reinforcement
  • ASTM A775/A775M: Specification for Epoxy-Coated Reinforcing Steel Bars
  • ASTM A934/A934M: Specification for Epoxy-Coated Prefabricated Steel Reinforcing Bars
  • ASTM A955: Deformed and plain stainless-steel bars for concrete reinforcement
  • ASTM A996: Rail-steel and axle-steel deformed bars for concrete reinforcement

ASTM marking designations are:

  • 'S' billet A615
  • 'I' rail A616
  • 'IR' Rail Meeting Supplementary Requirements S1 A616
  • 'A' Axle A617
  • 'W' Low-alloy — A706

Historically in Europe, rebar is composed of mild steel material with a yield strength of approximately 250 N/mm². Modern rebar is composed of high-yield steel, with a yield strength more typically 500 N/mm². Rebar can be supplied with various grades of ductility, with the more ductile steel capable of absorbing considerably greater energy when deformed - this can be of use in design to resist the forces from earthquakes for example.

Placing rebar

Rebar cages are fabricated either on or off the project site commonly with the help of hydraulic benders and shears, however for small or custom work a tool known as a Hickey - or hand rebar bender, is sufficient. The rebars are placed by rodbusters or concrete reinforcing ironworkers with bar supports separating the rebar from the concrete forms to establish concrete cover and ensure that proper embedment is achieved. The rebars in the cages are connected either by welding, tying steel wire, or with mechanical connections. For epoxy coated or galvanised rebars only the latter is possible.


The American Welding Society (AWS) D 1.4 sets out the practices for welding rebar in the U.S. Without special consideration the only rebar that is ready to weld is W grade (Low-alloy — A706). Rebar that is not produced to the ASTM A706 specification is generally not suitable for welding without calculating the "carbon-equivalent". Material with a carbon-equivalent of less than 0.55 can be welded. (AWS D1.4)

ASTM A 616 & ASTM A 617 reinforcing are re-rolled rail steel & re-rolled rail axle steel with uncontrolled chemistry, phosphorus & carbon content. These materials are not common.

Rebar cages are normally tied together with wire, although welding of cages has been the norm in Europe for many years, and is becoming more common in the US. High strength steels for prestressed concrete may absolutely not be welded.

Mechanical Connections

Also known as "mechanical couplers" or "mechanical splices", mechanical connections are used to connect reinforcing bars together. Mechanical couplers are an effective means to reduce rebar congestion in highly reinforced areas for cast-in-place concrete construction. These couplers are also used in precast concrete construction at the joints between members.

The structural performance criteria for mechanical connections varies considerably between different countries, codes, and industries. As a minimum requirement, codes typically specify that the rebar to splice connection meets or exceeds 125% of the specified tensile strength of the rebar. More stringent criteria also requires the development of the specified ultimate strength of the rebar. As an example, ACI 318 specifies either Type 1 (125% Fy) or Type 2 (125% Fy and 100% Fu) performance criteria.[4]

For concrete structures designed with ductility in mind, it is recommended that the mechanical connections are also capable of failing in a ductile manner, typically known in the reinforcing steel industry as achieving "bar-break". As an example, Caltrans specifies a required mode of failure (i.e., "necking of the bar").[5]


To prevent workers and / or pedestrians from accidentally impaling themselves, the protruding ends of steel rebar are often bent over or covered with special steel-reinforced plastic "plate" caps. "Mushroom" caps may provide protection from scratches and other minor injuries, but provide little to no protection from impalement.


For clarity, reinforcement is usually tabulated in a "reinforcement schedule" on construction drawings. This eliminates ambiguity in the various notations used in different parts of the world. The following list provides examples of the different notations used in the architectural, engineering, and construction industry.

New Zealand
Designation Explanation
HD-16-300, T&B, EW High strength (500 MPa) 16 mm diameter rebars spaced at 300 mm centers (center-to-center distance) on both the top and bottom face and in each way as well (i.e., longitudinal and transverse).
3-D12 Three mild strength (300 MPa) 12 mm diameter rebars
R8 Stirrups @ 225 MAX D grade (300 MPa) smooth bar stirrups, spaced at 225 mm centres. By default in New Zealand practice all stirrups are normally interpreted as being full, closed, loops. This is a detailing requirement for concrete ductility in seismic zones; If a single strand of stirrup with a hook at each end was required, this would typically be both specified and illustrated.
United States
Designation Explanation
#4 @ 12 OC, T&B, EW Number 4 rebars spaced 12 inches on center (center-to-center distance) on both the top and bottom faces and in each way as well, i.e. longitudinal and transverse.
(3) #4 Three number 4 rebars (usually used when the rebar perpendicular to the detail)
#3 ties @ 9 OC, (2) per set Number 3 rebars used as stirrups, spaced at 9 inches on center. Each set consists of two ties, which is usually illustrated.
#7 @ 12" EW, EF Number 7 rebar spaced 12 inches apart, placed in each direction (each way) and on each face.

See also


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • rébar — m 〈G rébra, G mn rêbārā〉, {{c=1}}v. {{ref}}rebro (2){{/ref}} …   Veliki rječnik hrvatskoga jezika

  • rebar — (n.) also re bar, steel reinforcing rod in concrete, 1961, from re(inforced) bar …   Etymology dictionary

  • rebar — v. tr. [Portugal: Beira] Encher os vãos de parede com rebos ou pedras pequenas …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • rebar — noun (plural rebar or rebars) Etymology: reinforcing bar Date: 1953 a steel rod with ridges for use in reinforced concrete …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • rebar — /ree bahr /, n. Building Trades Informal. a steel bar or rod used to reinforce concrete. Also, re bar. [1960 65, Amer.; re(inforcing) bar] * * * …   Universalium

  • rebar — noun /ˈɹi.bɑː(ɹ)/ A steel reinforcing bar in a reinforced concrete structure, or a grid of such bars …   Wiktionary

  • rebar — n. steel reinforcement bars placed in concrete …   English contemporary dictionary

  • rebar — [ ri:bα:] noun reinforcing steel used as rods in concrete …   English new terms dictionary

  • rebar — re·bar …   English syllables

  • rebar — re•bar or re bar [[t]ˈriˌbɑr[/t]] n. bui civ inf a steel bar or rod used to reinforce concrete • Etymology: 1960–65, amer.; re(inforcing) bar …   From formal English to slang

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