The Schmidt rebound hammer is principally a surface hardness tester. It works on the principle that the rebound of an elastic mass depends on the hardness of the surface against which the mass impinges. There is little apparent theoretical relationship between the strength of concrete and the rebound number of the hammer. However, within limits, empirical correlations have been established between strength properties and the rebound number. Further, Kolek has attempted to establish a correlation between the hammer rebound number and the hardness as measured by the Brinell method.

       The Schmidt rebound hammer is shown in . The hammer weighs about 1.8 kg  and is suitable for use both in a laboratory and in the field. A schematic cutaway view of the rebound hammer is shown in . The main components include the outer body, the plunger, the hammer mass, and the main spring. Other features include a latching mechanism that locks the hammer mass to the plunger rod and a sliding rider to measure the rebound of the hammer mass. The rebound distance is measured on an arbitrary scale marked from 10 to 100. The rebound distance is recorded as a “rebound number” corresponding to the position of the rider on the scale.

Rebound Hammer

       The method of using the hammer is explained using Fig. 1. With the hammer pushed hard against the concrete, the body is allowed to move away from the concrete until the latchconnects the hammer mass to the plunger, Fig. 1.a
     The plunger is then held perpendicular to the concrete surface and the body pushed towards the concrete, Fig. 1b. This movement extends the spring holding the mass to the body. When the maximum extension of the spring is reached, the latch releases and the mass is pulled towards the surface by the spring, Fig. 1c.The mass hits the shoulder of the plunger rod and rebounds because the rod is pushed hard against the concrete, Fig. 1d. During rebound the slide indicator travels with the hammer mass and stops at the maximum distance the mass reaches after rebounding. A button on the side of the body is pushed to lock the plunger into the retracted position and the rebound number is read from a scale on the body.

Rebound Hammer Test

       The hammer can be used in the horizontal, vertically overhead or vertically downward positions as well as at any intermediate angle, provided the hammer is perpendicular to the surface under test. The position of the mass relative to the vertical, however, affects the rebound number due to the action of gravity on the mass in the hammer. Thus the rebound number of a floor would be expected to be smaller than that of a soffit and inclined and vertical surfaces would yield intermediate results. Although a high rebound number represents concrete with a higher compressive strength than concrete with a low rebound number, the test is only useful if a correlation can be developed between the rebound number and concrete made with the same coarse aggregate as that being tested. Too much reliance should not be placed on the calibration curve supplied with the hammer since the manufacturer develops this curve using standard cube specimens and the mix used could be very different from the one being tested.


1. Smoothness of the test surface
       Hammer has to be used against a smooth surface, preferably a formed one. Open textured concrete cannot therefore be tested. If the surface is rough, e.g. a trowelled surface, it should be rubbed smooth with a carborundum stone.

2. Size, shape and rigidity of the specimen
       If the concrete does not form part of a large mass any movement caused by the impact of the hammer will result in a reduction in the rebound number. In such cases the member has to be rigidly held or backed up by a heavy mass.

3. Age of the specimen
        For equal strengths, higher rebound numbers are obtained with a 7 day old concrete than with a 28 day old. Therefore, when old concrete is to be tested in a structure a direct correlation is necessary between the rebound numbers and compressive strengths of cores taken from the structure. Rebound testing should not be carried out on low strength concrete at early ages or when the concrete strength is less than 7 MPa since the concrete surface could be damaged by the hammer.

4. Surface and internal moisture conditions of concrete
          The rebound numbers are lower for well-cured air dried specimens than for the same specimens tested after being soaked in water and tested in the saturated surface dried conditions. Therefore, whenever the actual moisture condition of the field concrete or specimen is unknown, the surface should be pre-saturated for several hours before testing. A correlation curve for tests performed on saturated surface dried specimens should then be used to estimate the compressive strength.

5. Type of cement
          High alumina cement can have a compressive strength 100% higher than the strength estimated using a correlation curve based on ordinary Portland cement. Also, super sulphated cement concrete can have strength 50% lower than ordinary Portland cement.

7. Carbonation of the concrete surface
           In older concrete the carbonation depth can be several millimeters thick and, in extreme cases, up to 20 mm thick. In such cases the rebound numbers can be up to 50% higher than those obtained on an un-carbonated concrete surface.

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