Rebound Hammer Test

Understanding the Rebound Hammer Test: Equipment, Procedure, and Limitations


The quality assessment of concrete is a critical aspect in the construction industry, and various non-destructive testing methods are employed for this purpose.

One widely used method is the rebound hammer test, also known as the Schmidt hammer test.

This article delves into the equipment used, the procedural steps involved, and the limitations of the rebound hammer test.

Equipment Used in Rebound Hammer Test

The rebound hammer is the primary equipment utilized for this test. It comprises several essential components designed to measure the surface hardness of concrete:

  1. Hammer Body: The main body of the rebound hammer houses the striking mechanism and is designed to withstand repeated use.
  2. Spring-Loaded Mass: This mass is propelled forward upon releasing the hammer, striking the concrete surface. The rebound of this mass is a key parameter in the test.
  3. Plunger: The plunger is in direct contact with the concrete surface during the test. Its design ensures consistent and perpendicular impact on the concrete.
  4. Scale or Gauge: The rebound hammer is equipped with a scale or gauge to measure the rebound distance. This scale is calibrated to provide a numerical value for the rebound.

Procedure of the Rebound Hammer Test

The rebound hammer test involves a systematic process to ensure accurate and reliable results. Here is a step-by-step guide to the procedure:

  1. Preparation of Concrete Surface:
    • Ensure the concrete surface is clean and free from loose particles or debris.
    • If necessary, grind or chisel away any irregularities on the surface to ensure a smooth and uniform test area.
  2. Calibration of the Rebound Hammer:
    • Before testing, the rebound hammer should be calibrated on a reference concrete surface with known properties. This calibration ensures the accuracy of the rebound values obtained during subsequent tests.
  3. Positioning of the Rebound Hammer:
    • Hold the rebound hammer perpendicular to the concrete surface.
    • Ensure firm contact between the plunger and the concrete.
  4. Release and Rebound Measurement:
    • Release the hammer, allowing the spring-loaded mass to strike the concrete surface.
    • Measure the rebound distance using the scale or gauge on the rebound hammer.
  5. Multiple Tests:
    • Conduct multiple tests at different locations to account for potential variations in concrete quality across the structure.
  6. Recording Results:
    • Record the rebound values obtained from each test location for analysis.
  7. Correlation with Compressive Strength:
    • Correlate the rebound values with established charts or equations to estimate the compressive strength of the concrete.

Limitations of the Rebound Hammer Test

While the rebound hammer tests is a valuable tool for quick assessments, it has certain limitations that should be considered:

  1. Surface Sensitivity:
    • The test is highly sensitive to surface conditions, and variations in texture or moisture content can impact results.
  2. Limited to Surface Hardness:
    • The rebound hammer primarily measures surface hardness, providing an indication of concrete quality only near the tested surface.
  3. Influence of Curing and Age:
    • The curing conditions and age of the concrete can affect the correlation between rebound values and compressive strength.
  4. Influence of Aggregates:
    • The presence of different aggregates in the concrete mix can introduce variability in rebound values.
  5. Not Suitable for Thin or Small Elements:
    • The rebound hammer may not be suitable for very thin elements or small structures where the impact of the rebound mass could cause damage.
  6. Limited for Quality Assessment:
    • While useful for preliminary assessments, the rebound hammer test may not provide the level of detail required for in-depth quality assessments.


The rebound hammer test is a widely used non-destructive testing method for assessing the surface hardness of concrete structures.

Understanding the equipment used, following a meticulous testing procedure, and acknowledging the limitations of the test are crucial for obtaining meaningful and reliable results.

Engineers and construction professionals must consider these factors when deciding on the appropriateness of the rebound hammer test for a specific application.

When used judiciously, the hammer test serves as a valuable tool in the toolbox of concrete quality assessment methods.

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