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Engineering Technical Note

Technical Note
ETN-D-2-13

Staggered Lap Splices


Introduction Review of Staggered Lap Splice
Options
Lapped splices are probably the most com-
mon means of joining two lengths of reinforcing Staggering of splices is the longitudinal spac-
bars. Staggering the lap splices is sometimes ing offset of the spliced bars. When consider-
required by the designer, basically for two rea- ing the longitudinal stagger arrangement of lap
sons: (1) to reduce reinforcement congestion splices, there are three basic options, as shown
in locations where there is a relatively heavy in Figure 2: (A) no stagger, (B) stagger with zero
amount of reinforcement, such as in a lower gap, and (C) stagger with a (positive) gap.
story column of a multi-story building, and (2)
to reduce a concentration of bond stresses at
the bar ends of the lap splices. A staggered
arrangement of the lap splices subsequently
reduces the localized stresses at each lap lo-
cation, and lowers the possibility of concrete
cracking (splitting) or reduces the crack widths.
Figure 1 shows a photo of a staggered lap
splice arrangement that has been installed in
the top layer of a foundation mat. In Figure 1,
note that every other bar is shown lap spliced
in the same general location.

Figure 2 Lap splice stagger options

As addressed previously, the ACI 318 Code


Figure 1 Staggered lap splices
has a number of references to staggering lap
splices; these are presented in Table 1. However,
Stagger Requirements of the ACI 318 these references do not clearly define a standard
Code or minimum distance for the stagger to be effec-
tive or how the lap splice stagger distance should
Since 1963, the ACI 318 Code has acknowl- be measured. These two pieces of information
edged the benefits of staggering lap splices are critical to making sure the reinforcing bars
by requiring staggered configurations of bars are detailed and placed properly and as required.
and splices under various conditions. Table
1 (shown on page 2) summarizes the condi- Designers Responsibility
tions under which ACI 318-11 [2011] requires
It is recommended that staggered splices are
the staggering of lap splices and the stagger
only used when they are essential to the design
distance. Depending on the condition, these
of a structure due to the complexity they add to
distances are expressed in terms of either bar
both the detailing and placement of the reinforce-
diameters, a defined length (in inches), or d.
ment. When they are required, it is the designers
responsibility to clearly define the staggered lap
Table 1 Stagger Requirements for Lap Splices, per ACI 318-11

Condition Stagger Distance Code Section

Individual bars within a bundle need to terminate at different points 40 db minimum Section 7.6.6.4
with at least a 40 db stagger.

Individual bar splices within a bundle shall not overlap. No length specified Section 12.14.2.2

Mechanical or welded splices that do not meet the 1.25 yield strength 24 in. minimum Section 12.15.5.1
requirement.

Mechanical or welded splices in tension tie members. 30 in. minimum Section 12.15.6

Class A tension lap splices in columns where half or fewer of the bars d minimum Section 12.17.2.2
are spliced at any section.

End-bearing splices in columns. No length specified Section 12.17.4

Splices of principal tensile reinforcement in shells (with not more than d minimum Section 19.4.12
1/3 of the reinforcement spliced at any section).

splice requirements on the contract


drawings. In an effort to avoid ambi-
guity, graphical details (as illustrated
in Figure 3) are preferred over general
notes. The lap splice note in Figure 4
can be unclear, incomplete, and eas-
ily misinterpreted. For example, is the
note in Figure 4 saying:

1. S
 tagger all lap splices an undis-
closed distance, with the lap splice
of a #6 bar being 17 in. minimum
and lap splice of a #8 bar being 37
in. minimum?

2. Is the stagger distance of the #6 bar


17 in. minimum, and stagger dis- Figure 3 Example of a typical staggered lap splice detail
tance of the #8 bar 37 in. minimum?
The lap splice length is either not
given, or presented elsewhere.

With respect to Option 2, where is the stagger mea-


sured from? Is it from the end of the bars or centerline of
the spliced bars? The lap splice note in Figure 4 seem-
ingly creates more confusion than providing clarity.

The designer also needs to clearly define how the lap


splice details apply to the structure in two ways.
Figure 4 Example of a simple staggered lap splice note
1. Describe what elements need to be detailed with stag-
gered lap splices - walls, slabs, beams, etc. This can
be done through a clarifying note next to the detail. a. Is the stagger condition only required for lap splic-
ing bars in a single parallel layer? This should be
2. Describe how the lapped reinforcing bars within each clearly communicated through a graphical detail
element are required to be staggered. similar to Figure 3.

2 Staggered Lap Splices [ETN-D-2-13]


Staggered Lap Splice Measurement
A lap splice detail should clearly define the
stagger distance and how the stagger distance
should be measured.

The recommended manner to measure the


lap splice stagger distance is shown in Figure.
6. This figure illustrates the staggered lap
splice as it is measured from end-of-bar to
Figure 5 Staggered lap splice detail for different layers in a end-of-bar, rather than from the center of
foundation mat or wall the lap splice. This end-to-end dimension
cannot be misintrepreted by reinforcing bar
detailers during the creation of placing draw-
ings or by ironworkers as the reinforcing
bars are placed in the field. Any given stag-
ger distance will ensure the bar ends will not
line up.

Figure 7 illustrates the same example


shown in Figure 3, but this time incorporat-
ing this recommened manner of measure-
ment that is shown in Figure 6. Note how
much clarity this measurement method adds
to the detail for reinforcing bar details and
Figure 6 Recommended measurement of the stagger distance
for staggered lap splices ironworkers.

Stckl Research on Lap Splices


Although it is allowed, the staggered lap
splice layout shown in Figure 2(B) is not the
most ideal from a structural standpoint. Be-
cause the bar ends of successive terminated
bars are aligned, there is a strong tendency
for a splitting crack to develop in the con-
crete, coincident with the bar ends.

Stckl [1972] studied the effect that dif-


ferent staggered lap splice configurations
had on the width of flexural cracks at the
ends of lap splices. Three configurations
of lap splice stagger tested by Stckl are
shown in Figure 8. Note that the staggered
lap splice layout in Figure 2(B) was studied
by Stckl, as shown in Figure 8(a). Trans-
verse reinforcement in the region of the lap
splices may provide confinement and reduce
Figure 7 Example of a typical staggered lap splice detail using the the crack width, but providing a gap between
recommended measurement of the stagger distance
the ends of the staggered lap splices is more
desirable, as shown in Figure 8(b).

b. Do lap splices in different layers within a single ele- According to Stckl, the staggering of lap splices in
ment have to stagger with respect to each other? beams (providing a negative gap, as shown in Figure
(An example of this condition would be the top and 8(c)) can reduce the width of flexural cracks at the ends
bottom layers in a foundation mat or inside and of the lap splices, provided that the stagger distance is
outside faces in a wall) This situation should be at least one-half of the lap splice length. For a Class A
clearly communicated through a graphical detail lap splice, with the lap splice length equal to the tension
similar to Figure 5. development length d, the minimum stagger would be
0.5 d. For a Class B lap splice, with the lap splice length

CRSI Technical Note 3


equal to 1.3 times the tension development length, the
minimum stagger would be 0.65 d. In either case, a
closer stagger where the staggered regions overlap (a
negative gap) provides the best structural behavior and
will be consistent with the recommendations from the
Stckl report.

Summary
The longitudinal staggering of lap splices is important
to avoid reinforcing bar congestion in the lap splice re-
(a) Superimposed effects can be adverse, resulting in gion. From a structural engineering perspective, provid-
large crack width even when lap length exceeds tension ing a negative or positive gap is desirable to mitigate the
development length splitting crack tendency; refer to Figure 2(C) for definition
of gap. Providing no gap, as illustrated in Figure 2(B),
should be avoided because of the propensity for a wide
splitting crack to develop.

Detailing the stagger for lap splices is equally impor-


tant to properly convey the design intent. A simple, yet
comprehensive staggered lap splice (typical) detail, simi-
lar to Figures 3 and 6, should be provided on the contract
drawings. General notes concerning lap splices can be
too ambiguous and subject to different interpretations.

References
(b) Avoiding superposition reduces crack width American Concrete Institute ACI Committee
318 (2011), Building Code Requirements for Structural
Concrete (ACI 318-11) and Commentary (ACI 318R-11),
American Concrete Institute, Farmington Hills, Michigan,
503 pp.

Stckl, S. (1972), bergreifungsste von zug-


beanspruchten Bewehrungsstben (Lap Splicing of
Reinforcing Bars Subject to Tension), Beton- und
Stahlbetonbau, V. 10, Ernst & Sohn, Berlin, Germany,
pp. 229-234. (in German)

(c) Low superposition results in smallest crack width

Figure 8 Crack widths, as a function of splice locations


(after Stckl [1972])

Contributors: The principal authors of this publication are Robbie Hall, Greg Rohm, Michael
Ugalde, Anthony L. Felder, and Neal S. Anderson, with review by members of the CRSI Reinforce-
ment Anchorages and Splices Committee.

Keywords: Contact, cracking, lap splice, reinforcing bar, stagger

Reference: Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute - CRSI [2013], Staggered Lap Splices, CRSI
Technical Note ETN-D-2-13, Schaumburg, Illinois, 4 pp. 933 North Plum Grove Rd.
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4758
Historical: None. New technical note p. 847-517-1200 f. 847-517-1206
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