The average spacing of primary cracks in a reinforced concrete (RC) member greatly influences its in-service behavior, especially with regard to stiffness and average crack width. Accurate predictions of the average crack spacing are therefore crucial for satisfying serviceability requirements in RC structures. This is particularly the case when relying on analytical models that treat cracks discretely rather than in a smeared fashion. Popular code-based models for primary crack spacing are often wildly inaccurate and may lead to poor predictions of in-service behavior. In this paper, the problem or primary crack formation is approached from a stiffness perspective. The proposed model is based on the results of several experimental tension stiffening studies in the literature, as well as a previous numerical study dealing with the effect on stiffness of non-plane deformation in the neighborhood of primary cracks. The proposed model is compared to some popular code-based models and is shown to better predict average crack spacing for a wide variety of beams, slabs, and tension members.
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