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Bryan Stanley
Design Engineering
Asked a question 2 years ago

What is the difference between plain and reinforced concrete?

Differentiate between plain and reinforced concrete. Among these to which one gives more strength?

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Lillian Holmes
Director of Public Works

Concrete is the basis of much of Civilization’s Infrastructure and much of its physical development. It is almost twice as much concrete is used throughout the world than all other building materials combined use.

Difference between PCC and RCC:

PLAIN CEMENT CONCRETE (PCC): – It is also called Cement Concrete (CC) or Binding Concrete.

This is a construction material which consists of Cement, Sand, Aggregate (Coarse and Fine) , Water and Admixtures.

· It is used for providing a rigid, level space and impervious bed to RCC in foundation.

· It is also used under flooring (stone, tile, wooden flooring etc., ).

· It is good at resisting compression.

· It can be used over Brick flat soiling or without Brick flat soiling.

· It is also used as filler like lump concrete which is mixer of Boulder and PCC.

Thickness: PCC is normally between 50 to 75 mm

Concrete Ratio: Normally used proportions are 1:2:4, 1:3:6, 1:4:8

Unit: Cubic Meter (Cum)


Concrete is material with a mix of Cement, Sand, Aggregate and Water, that is good for Compression not in Tension….

To resolve this critical issue by reinforcing steel, by casting wet concrete around strong steel bars. When the concrete set and hardens around the bars, we get a new composite material, REINFORCED CONCRETE (RCC). So it is a good material which works good either in Compression or Tension.

Concrete resists squeezing due to compressive strength and Steel resists bending and stretching due to tensile strength. This enhance ductility, reduce long term deflections or increase the flexural capacity for beams.

Reinforced concrete acts as a composite material inside another where steel bars provide the reinforcement to the concrete.

Usually TMT Steel bars are used which are firmly anchored inside the concrete without the risk of slipping. We use steel because it prevents excessive cracking resulting from shrinkage or temperature variation (hot and cold temperature) . Lateral reinforcement as ties and stirrups are used to provide resistance to principal tensile stresses resulting from shear resistance.

Thickness: RCC thickness depends as per design requirements.

Concrete Ratio: It can be nominal mix or design mix, depends on site requirements.

Unit: Cubic Meter (Cum)

Wilma Caldwell
Architectural technologist

Basic differences

Plain Cement ConcreteR/f Cement Concrete
It doesn’t carry ‘Steel’.It carries Steel.
PCC is weak in tension loading while strong in compression loading.RCC is strong in both.
PCC blasts on excessive loading & in an instant w/t giving any warning.RCC gives you enough time to vacate the structure before collapse.
What is the difference between plain and reinforced concrete?
 Plain Cement ConcreteR/f Cement Concrete

Steel tendons


High tensile steel bars

Included with tension

Ordinary Mild Steel Deformed Bars


No tension included

Basic materials used

Min grade of concrete


Post-Tensioning → M30

Pre-Tensioning  → M40

to resist high stresses


High strength steel to transfer large prestressing force

Min grade of concrete → M20


Steel                           → MS

Effectiveness of memberEntire section carries loadDoes not carries load
Crack resistance



Cracks don’t occur under working loads

Wt & suitability



Heavy loads & longer spans



Wt is more desired than steel


Requires many specialized equiments


Pulling jack, Post-tensioning pump, Master wedges, Anchhor head & bearing

Doesn’t involve specialized equiments.
Quality of steel reqd

1/3rd of RCC


More strength & less c/s area

DeflectionVery lessMore
Load carrying capacity & DurabilityMoreLess
Shock resistanceMoreLess
YieldAs high as 2100 N/mm2200 – 300 N/mm2
TestingTesting of steel & concrete can be done while prestressing.No way of testing the steel & concrete.

Economical for span of 10m – 18m.


As length of span gets

Cost %

C/s area of beam ↓

Economical for span < 9m.
Theodore Ray
Planning and development surveyor

Plain cement concrete (PCC) is simply concrete by definition. It is cement + water + fine aggregates + coarse aggregates. It is the ordinary concrete without any kind of reinforcement. However, pozzolans, admixtures, etc. may be included in the mix.

Reinforced cement concrete (RCC) is PCC + reinforcement. The reinforcement is generally steel bars bent and laid into the desired shape and orientation. The reinforcement can be both tensile or compressive reinforcement depending upon the situation. However, mostly both are used in any structural member. It is rare to find an RCC structure with only either tensile or compressive reinforcement.

In terms of strength, naturally, RCC is stronger because the reinforcement helps in load-carrying capacity.

PCC is weaker and is only used for layering surfaces like plastering work or flooring and most importantly in the layering if excavation to cast footings.