Damage mechanisms in cementitious coatings on steel members under axial loading

S. Chen, L. Jiang, Asif Sohail Usmani, G.-Q. Li, C. Jin

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Abstract Cementitious coatings have been widely used as fire protection for steel structures, but they are vulnerable to structural deformations or vibrations, which may lead to reduction in their effectiveness and cause severe economic loss in the event of a fire. For buildings in practice, the problem can be critical because the coatings are assumed to be in good condition as they are usually hidden underneath architectural finishes, making it difficult and expensive to carry out routine inspection. To determine the actual fire resistance of a building after a moderate or severe loading event or a relatively long period of service, it is imperative to understand the performance of the coatings and to develop effective damage estimation methodologies. Loading conditions in a real buildings can be complex, however as there is inadequate previous work in this field, it is considered more important at this stage to determine the fundamental damage mechanisms in cementitious coatings on steel members subjected to axial loading, as investigated in this paper through experimental and numerical studies. At first, tests are carried out to obtain mechanical properties of the coating and the bond properties between the coating and the steel substrate. Then, a series of monotonic loading tests are conducted on axially loaded steel members to observe damage propagation in coating specimens. Subsequently, a cohesive zone finite element (CZFE) scheme is presented for modelling the damage with both interfacial and internal damage considered. The effectiveness of the proposed CZFE scheme is validated by comparison with different numerical approaches, interlaminar stress analysis and monotonic loading tests. From monotonic loading tests and CZFE numerical analyses, damage mechanisms in cementitious coatings on axially loaded steel members are clearly revealed. Under tensile loading, the damage begins with interfacial cracks at both ends, followed by transverse cracks within the coating resulting in its ultimate fracturing into segments. Under compressive loading, the damage also initiates at the ends with interfacial cracks and propagates towards the centre until the coating completely peels off. The findings from this research build a solid foundation for estimating the damage of cementitious coatings for trusses and large space structures, as most of the structural components in these structures are axially loaded. This work also provides an effective approach for further research on understanding damage mechanisms in cementitious coatings in steel frame structures under more realistic loading conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6575
Pages (from-to)18-35
Number of pages18
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Axial loading
  • Cementitious fire protection coating
  • Cohesive zone finite element (CZFE)
  • Damage mechanism
  • Monotonic loading test
  • Steel structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)


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