How strong is concrete?

The article aims to answer the question “How strong is concrete?”. What is concrete strength, and why does it matter? How does it affect the quality of a substantial project? And how does it affect the cost? 

This article will answer all these questions including ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) to show the difference in strength between standard concrete and the newer, revolutionary concrete technology (UHPC).

How strong is concrete?

Yes, many people believe that concrete is a powerful and long-lasting substance, and they are not wrong. However, there are a variety of approaches to measure the strength of concrete.

Perhaps even more crucially, the features of concrete that make it suitable for a wide range of applications might be summarized as follows:

This is the most often used and well-acknowledged method of determining the strength of a concrete mixture. A substantial strength test assesses how well it can handle weights that reduce the concrete’s volume.

To evaluate compressive strength, a piece of specific equipment is used to shatter cylindrical concrete specimens. In pounds per square inch, it is expressed (psi). American Society for Testing & Materials standard C39 is used to conduct the testing.

As the primary criterion for determining whether a concrete mixture will match the requirements of a particular application, compressive strength is critical.

The compressive strength of concrete is measured in psi, or pounds per square inch. The more psi a concrete mixture has, the more costly it will be. As a result, the longer-lasting properties of these stronger concretes are also a benefit.

There are many variables to consider when it comes to concrete, but the bare minimum for any job generally falls between 2,500 and 3,000 pounds per square inch of pressure. There is a standard psi range for each concrete construction.

Slab-on-grade construction typically calls for concrete with a 3,500 to 4,000 psi compressive strength. 3,500 to 5,000 psi is the pressure needed for suspended slabs, beams, and girders (such as those found in bridges).

Conventional concrete walls and columns are typically in the 3,000 to 5,500 psi range, whereas pavement requires the equivalent of 4,000 to 5,000 psi. Colder regions demand concrete buildings to be more resilient to freeze/thaw cycles, requiring greater psi.

Compressive strength is generally tested after seven days to measure the psi and again after 28 days. Early strength improvements may be determined by a seven-day test, which may even be done after three days.

American Concrete Institute (ACI) regulations state that the psi of concrete should be calculated using 28-day tests, which we do.

Concrete’s tensile strength is its capacity to resist breaking or cracking in the presence of stress. Cracks in concrete buildings may be influenced by the amount of time it takes to form. When tensile forces surpass the concrete’s tensile strength, the result is a crack.

Tensile strength in traditional concrete is substantially lower than compressive strength. To ensure the structural integrity of concrete constructions subjected to tensile stress, they must be reinforced with tensile-resistant materials, such as steel.

So, since it is impossible to test concrete directly for tensile strength, indirect procedures are utilized instead. Flexural strength and split tensile strength are the most popular indirect approaches.

A split tensile test on concrete cylinders is used to evaluate the concrete’s split tensile strength. The ASTM C496 standard should be followed for the test.

Another indirect metric of tensile strength is flexural strength. An unreinforced concrete slab or beam is defined as measuring its ability to withstand bending failure. What this means is the concrete’s capacity to resist bending.

Ten to fifteen percent of concrete’s compressive strength is flexural strength, depending on the exact composition.

A Modulus of Rupture (MR) in psi is used to measure the flexural strength of concrete. There are two standard ASTM tests for this purpose—C78 and C293.

Flexural tests are susceptible to the preparation, handling, and curing of concrete. A moist specimen should be used for the test. Compressive strength test results are more often utilized to describe concrete’s strength since they are more accurate.

What factors contribute to concrete strength?

In concrete, this relates to the water-to-cement ratio. The lower the water-to-cement ratio, the more difficult it is to deal with the concrete.

Workability and strength must be maintained to get the required results. Water, cement, air, and sand, gravel, and stone aggregate mixture are all used in traditional concrete. Strengthening concrete is dependent on the correct balance of these elements.

It may be easier to pour a concrete mixture with far too much cement paste, but it will crack easily and will not last long. As a result, a concrete block with too little cement paste would be rough and porous.

Strength is dependent on the proper mixing time. Over-mixing may result in water evaporation, leading to a buildup of fine particles rather than strengthening the mix as it should. Because of this, the concrete becomes more challenging to work with and less durable.

With so many variables to consider, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how long a batch of concrete should be allowed to sit before it is ready to be poured.

It has to be kept wet longer to make the concrete more robust. The concrete must be protected during curing in exceptionally cold or hot conditions.

New concrete technology is available for all strength levels with superior strength properties. Many state and federal infrastructure projects are already using Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) because of its exceptional strength and durability.

Unlike traditional concrete, UHPC has a very similar chemical composition. 75% to 80% of the ingredients are identical.

UHPC’s integrated fibers are what sets it apart. These fibers make up between 20% and 25% of the total weight in the finished product.

There is a wide range of fibers to choose from: polyester, basalt fiber, steel, and stainless steel. Steel and stainless steel are the most muscular integrated fibers, delivering the most significant gains in strength.

With 1,700 psi, UHPC is more robust than traditional concrete, between 300 and 700 psi.

UHPC has more than 2,000 psi flexural strength, compared to 400 to 700 psi for traditional concrete.

When comparing UHPC to traditional concrete, the superior compressive strength of UHPC is especially noteworthy. The typical compressive strength of conventional concrete ranges from 2,250 to 5,500 psi, but UHPC can have up to 10 times the power of traditional concrete.

UHPC has a compressive strength of 20,000 psi after just 14 days of curing. This number rises to 30,000 psi after 28 days of curing. The compressive strength of some UHPC mixtures has even reached 50,000 psi.

UHPC can withstand more than 1,000 freeze/thaw cycles, whereas traditional concrete begins to deteriorate in just 28 cycles.

Compared to regular concrete, UHPC can absorb three times as much energy. When subjected to impact, UHPC was twice as strong as traditional concrete and could dissipate four times as much energy. This makes it an excellent choice for earthquake-resistant bridges and structures.

Water cannot penetrate UHPC because of its higher density than traditional concrete. Under tensile stress, UHPC can be compressed into thinner sections than regular concrete. Traditional concrete lasts 15 to 25 years, whereas UHPC lasts 75 years or more.

Since the end structure weighs less due to UHPC’s greater structural strength, footing and support requirements are reduced.

UHPC is being used in many infrastructure projects in the United States to repair the country’s deteriorating bridges and roads, which is not surprising. Increased life spans for bridges reduce the overall cost of these structures over their entire service life. 

The increased lifespan of UHPC means that it requires less maintenance, which contributes to its lower lifetime cost.

Is knowing the concrete strength important?

Yes, concrete mixture’s strength qualities are critical to consider while evaluating the material for a project. The key to selecting the optimum concrete mixture is knowing these values and what each concrete strength attribute brings to a project.

UHPC outperforms ordinary concrete in all areas of strength, making it an excellent alternative for all concrete applications. A combination of decreased maintenance and more extended lifespan costs is achieved by using UHPC.

Concrete manufacturing methods and equipment are being improved all the time. Additionally, testing methodologies and data interpretation are becoming more advanced. However, the quality of concrete is primarily dependent on its strength.

Concrete’s strength determines whether or not it is used in building. The same codes are used for various structures to signify the same thing. When it comes to structural importance, first-floor columns in high-rise structures, for example, are more critical than nonbearing walls.

Damage or failure might occur due to insufficient tensile strength in a product or system.  It’s clear that a structure’s overall strength is critical, but its structural components have a significant role in determining how important it is.

The predicted proportions of the components’ qualities are dependent on their strength. Thus it is essential to consider this when determining the mix’s strength specifications.

When it comes to compressive strength, what is the answer?

The compressive strength of a concrete mixture is commonly acknowledged to evaluate its performance. As the fundamental metric for how effectively concrete can bear loads that impact its size, this characteristic of concrete is critical. 

It’s a great way to determine whether a particular combination would work for a given project. Compressive loading may be handled quite well by concrete. As a result, it may be used to build arches and columns, dams, foundations, and tunnel linings, among other things.

Using a new concrete sample, compressive strength may be determined. At different ages, it is then compressed and evaluated. The suggested power may be affected by the size and form as well. Details on the competency of solid growth are obtained via further testing.

In most residential and commercial constructions, the compressive strength of concrete ranges from 2500 to 4000 psi (17 to 28 mpa). Additionally, a few applications need pressures over 10,000 psi (70 MPa). 

What is the tensile strength of concrete?

Concrete’s tensile strength is its ability to withstand cracking or breaking under stress. The tensile strength of concrete must be determined to comprehend the degree of the probable damage to a structure. When tensile forces exceed the tensile strength, cracking and breaking occur.

The compressive strength of typical concrete is higher than that of ultra-high performance concrete, but the tensile strength is much lower. For any concrete construction subjected to tensile stress, the first step is to reinforce it with steel.

The importance of concrete’s tensile strength in preventing cracking has increased the amount of information available on the subject. Concrete tensile strength testing is complex since no field test can directly judge the material’s tensile strength.

However, indirect approaches such as splitting may be pretty helpful.

According to research, the tensile strength of typical concrete ranges from 300 to 700 psi, or 2 to 5 MPa. The compression strength is equivalent to around 10% of the tension to put this into perspective. 

What is the flexural strength of concrete?

Concrete’s flexural strength determines its capacity to resist bending. It is a measure of tensile strength indirectly.

We can better comprehend the concept with this classic illustration of flexure strength. Beams and other components of various constructions are prone to bending or flexural because of their design. Beams may be loaded in the middle and supported at the ends.

Its lower fibers are under tension, while the higher ones are strained. Tensile failure will occur in the lower fibers if this beam is made of cement since concrete is weaker than steel. Reinforcing steel, on the other hand, has high tensile strength.

Thus a few steel bars in the lower area will handle the more significant weight. A pre-stressed concrete beam with reinforcing steel is as intense as a standard concrete beam.

Concrete’s flexural strength is typically assessed using a simple beam with a focused load applied at each of the three-thirds of the beam’s cross-sectional area. Psi is used as the Modulus of Rupture (MR) for the numbers.

Flexural strength may range from 10% to 15% of the compressive strength depending on the concrete mix.

What factors affect the concrete strength?

It’s hard to think of a single factor that adds to the strength of concrete. However, there are certain commonalities:

  • Types of cement that may be used
  • Cement quantity, quality, and brand
  • Inadvertent use of cement
  • Aggregate cleanliness and grading
  • Percentage of water
  • Admixtures or lack thereof
  • Methods of handling and positioning
  • Temperature
  • Resolving health issues
  • Inconsistencies in delivery
  • Once formed and tested, concrete is considered old.

The strength of the mixture may be affected by the addition of foreign ingredients. In order to achieve desired strength, it is necessary to eliminate the irrelevant aspects and focus on the important ones.

In addition, proper examination ensures that no changes in the strength of concrete occur.


Humans have used concrete for a long time. The fundamental components of this dish trace back to Egyptian culture.

New concrete additions have made it possible to create a more durable and flexible combination. Because concrete is sturdy and long-lasting, it has become a common building material worldwide. About the concrete above strength, there are a variety of approaches to get at it.

Concrete may be used in a wide range of applications since it has many attributes and strengths. We’ve discussed the significance of concrete strength, the many kinds of concrete strength, and the elements that influence concrete strength in this blog post.

Frequently asked questions (FAQS): How strong is concrete?

How strong is concrete?

Many people believe that concrete is a powerful and long-lasting substance, and they are not wrong. However, there are a variety of approaches to measure the strength of concrete.

What is the flexural strength of concrete?

Concrete’s flexural strength determines its capacity to resist bending. It is a measure of tensile strength indirectly.

We can better comprehend the concept with this classic illustration of flexure strength. Beams and other components of various constructions are prone to bending or flexural because of their design. Beams may be loaded in the middle and supported at the ends.


Hertz, K. D. (2005). Concrete strength for fire safety design. Magazine of concrete research, 57(8), 445-453.

Kmiecik, P., & Kamiński, M. (2011). Modeling of reinforced concrete structures and composite structures with concrete strength degradation taken into consideration. Archives of civil and mechanical engineering, 11(3), 623-636.