AbstractThis study investigated the efficiency of strengthening low-strength RC short columns with fiber-reinforced cementitious matrix (FRCM). Twelve columns were cast with concrete with a compressive strength of 18 MPa. All columns had a reinforcement ratio of 1.5%. The investigated parameters were the column cross section (square or circular), the spacing between the ties (90 and 180 mm) selected based on the columns’ dimensions, and the number of FRCM layers used in wrapping the columns [zero, two, and four layers of paraphenylene-ben-zobisoxazole (PBO) FRCM]. All columns had a clear height of 800 mm and were tested monotonically until failure. Results showed that for columns wrapped with two PBO-FRCM layers, using a tie spacing of 90 mm eliminated the effect of varying the cross section. However, circular columns showed a higher increase in capacity than square columns for a tie spacing of 180 mm, where the increase was 40%. For all columns wrapped with four PBO-FRCM layers, the cross-section shape was the sole influence on ultimate capacity, where circular columns noticeably showed a more improved capacity. Also, column load–strain relationships were only influenced by the tie spacing. All strengthened columns showed improved ductility with the increase in PBO-FRCM layers. Using existing design provisions, the theoretical capacity of the columns was calculated, and results showed that the code underestimates ultimate capacity, where the theoretical capacities were lower than the experimental ones by 5%–20%.