Improving bond strength and mass transport properties of spacer-concrete interface with textured spacers

F. Muslim, H. S. Wong, T. K.Q. Chiu, N. R. Buenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spacers are important devices used in all concrete structures to support reinforcing steel and achieve the required cover. However, spacers induce a weak, porous and microcracked interface that facilitates ingress of aggressive agents. This paper aims to address the problem by developing a method to produce cementitious spacers with a range of small-scale surface textures including grooves, squares, rectangles, hemispheres and pyramids. The textured spacers were cast in Portland cement mortar or concrete, cured up to 28 days, and tested for tensile bond strength, accessible porosity and mass transport properties. The properties were correlated to surface characteristics to establish the effects of texture on spacer-concrete interface. Results show that textured spacers promote mechanical interlocking with concrete, thereby increasing bond strength, resistance against microcracking and pressure-induced flow. The use of certain textures can compensate for the negative effects of spacers, achieving similar bond strength and permeability to monolithic concrete without the interface.

Original languageEnglish
Article number191
JournalMaterials and Structures/Materiaux et Constructions
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Bond strength
  • Durability
  • Interfacial transition zone
  • Reinforcement spacer
  • Surface texture
  • Transport properties


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