Concrete cover in reinforced concrete, the least distance between the surface of embedded reinforcement and the outer surface of the concrete. (ACI 130) The concrete cover depth can be measured with a cover meter.

Purpose of provision of concrete coverEdit

  • to protect the reinforcement bars from environmental effects to prevent corrosion
  • to protect the reinforcement bars from fire
  • to give reinforcing bars sufficient embedment to enable them to be stressed without slipping


The amount of cover depth that needs to be provided is usually based on the exposure conditions that the structure is likely to be subjected. The Indian Concrete Code mandates the following:

Nominal Cover Requirements based on Exposure Conditions in Indian Concrete Code IS:456-2000
Exposure Condition Nominal Cover
Mild 25
Moderate 30
Severe 45
Very Severe 50
Extreme 75

Other national codes also specify minimum cover requirements based on their respective local exposure conditions.

Other National Concrete Cover Requirements
Country Concrete Code Range of Concrete Cover
UK BS:8110 25-50
EU EN 1992 (EC2) diameter +10 - 55
USA ACI:318 40-50
Australia AS:3600 15-30


Large cover depths (50–75 mm) are required to protect reinforcement against corrosion in aggressive environments, but thick cover leads to increased crack widths in flexural reinforced concrete members. Large crack-widths (greater than 0.3 mm) permit ingress of moisture and chemical attack to the concrete, resulting in possible corrosion of reinforcement and deterioration of concrete. Therefore, thick covers defeat the very purpose for which it is provided. There is a need for judicious balance of cover depth and crack width requirements.

A possible economical solution for this paradox is the placing of a second layer of non corrosive reinforcement like stainless steel rebars or meshes or FRP rebars in the concrete cover to distribute the cracks.

Methods of maintaining coverEdit

See alsoEdit

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