Cellular decks are formed by attaching cold-formed “hat-shaped” deck sections on top of cold-formed steel sheets. The attachment is typically made using resistance spot welds spaced at a specific interval. The void left underneath the deck flutes and above the steel sheet provides a convenient means for the distribution of wiring and data cables throughout building systems. The section properties of cellular decks subjected to positive bending can be determined using the provisions of Chapter B of the 2001 AISI Specification (AISI, 2001). However, the provisions of Chapter B do not apply to cellular decks subjected to negative bending unless a specific weld spacing requirement is met. This requirement, set by Section D1.2 Spacing of Connections in Compression Elements (AISI, 2001), limits weld spacing so as to completely prevent column-like buckling between welds and provide adequate resistance to horizontal shear forces. Using section D1.2 limits weld spacing to a range of 1 in. to 2 in. for most cellular decks. It is standard industry practice to space cellular deck welds at 4 in. to 8 in. on center, exceeding the limits of Section D1.2. If the spacing limits of Section D1.2 are exceeded, the 2001 AISI Specification requires that the steel sheet be neglected when determining the section properties of cellular deck in negative bending. This is done because column-like buckling is likely to occur in the sheet when it is subjected to compression forces. Although the 2001 AISI Specification has provisions in place to account for the effects of local buckling, it has no provisions in place to account for the post column-like buckling strength of the steel sheet. However, a procedure for determining the post-buckling strength of cellular decks was developed by Luttrell and Balaji (1992), and is based on the results of 82 negative bending tests performed on six cellular deck profiles. The procedure developed by Luttrell and Balaji (1992) utilizes a dimensional reduction factor, ρm, which is used to determine the effective width of the steel sheet when column-like buckling is an issue. The factors having the greatest influence on ρm include steel sheet thickness, steel sheet yield strength, weld spacing, and the depth of the deck. Although the method correlated well with the 82 bending tests performed, a ballot containing his method was not passed by AISI. The principal reason for its rejection was 2 that the reduction factor, ρm, was dimensional, which violates an AISI directive that all equations be non-dimensional so they apply to both US Standard and SI units. The primary objective of this research was to modify the method developed by Luttrell and Balaji such that the dimensional reduction factor is non-dimensional. Using Luttrell's method, section properties for 49 of the 82 cellular decks tested in negative bending were determined. Section properties were not determined for the remaining 33 ECP266 and EPC3 cellular decks due to a lack of information with regard to the deck dimensions. However, a dimensionless reduction factor was developed based on the section properties of the EP-type cellular deck. The equation used to predict the reduction factor was optimized so as to reduce the error between observed and theoretical bending strength to a minimum.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Research Center/Laboratory(s)

Wei-Wen Yu Center for Cold-Formed Steel Structures


Steel Deck Institute


Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech)

Publication Date


Document Version

Final Version


© Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech)

Document Type

Report - Technical

File Type




Technical Report Number

Report No. CEE/VPI-S