The Different Types of Building Foundations
Choosing the Best Type
The most important part of your house is the building foundation. But what is it? Here's your guide to the different types of foundations.
Any home or building worth its salt should be built on a sturdy foundation which will stand the test of time.
A building foundation must be built to withstand all the elements and, essentially, determines the longevity of a building.
However, not all foundations are the same. You will find a number of variations which support different building types and sizes.
The key to building the home of your dreams is your foundation. Without a building foundation constructed by professionals, you may as well build your home on sea sand.
But first, it's important to understand the different types of foundations in order to gauge which is best for your home. In this blog, we outline everything you need to know...
A Guide To Understanding Building Foundation
One thing that all homes have in common is that they are built on a foundation. However, each building foundation is most likely quite different.
Basically, all foundations can be divided into two broad categories: shallow and deep.
Shallow foundations refer to the depth of the soil the foundation is built in, which is generally 3ft deep. Deep foundations are typically dug in anywhere from 60-200ft deep.
As you can imagine, a shallow building foundation is better suited to smaller, lighter structures. Whereas deeper foundations are built for taller, larger buildings.
The type of building foundation used for most homes is reliant on a few factors such as:
Now, let's get into the different types of building foundations which are largely used throughout the construction industry today:
Shallow Foundation Types
The building foundation types which fall into this category are also known as open footings or spread footings.
These foundation types are created by excavating land to create an open area where a footing can be constructed.
During this process, the entire foundation area is fully visible- the reason why they're also known as ''open footings''.
Essentially, the load of the house is spread out over a large surface area across the foundation footing.
This allows for weight to be spread evenly, without exceeding the bearing capacity of the soil.
Individual footing foundations are some of the most commonly used for most homes on the market.
Essentially, each footing is comprised of individual columns which are each set on their own rectangular slab of concrete.
The size of each footing is calculated by a structural engineer to ensure the safe bearing capacity of the soil is not exceeded.
From here, each individual footing is connected by concrete plinth beam to ensure each footing is securely kept in place. These beams are either built at ground level or below.
You will generally find strip footings throughout masonry construction which is highly focused on load-bearing.
These strip footings act as a load-bearing support for entire walls, rather than individual columns.
You will typically find strip footing foundations in older variations of homes or buildings where entire walls carry the load of the structure.
Raft / Mat Foundations
This is a building foundation used primarily for homes which feature a basement.
When the raft foundation is constructed, this acts as the basement floor as well as the entire support for the rest of the house.
The weight of the house is spread evenly over the ''footprint'' of the home, which is the basement.
This is why it's called a raft foundation, as the building essentially floats over the foundation and the soil below.
Raft foundations are commonly used in areas of weak soil or erosion, or where the load of a building is spread over a large area.
It's highly important to note that in cold climates foundations must be protected from the elements. If a foundation freezes and expands, this can crack and compromise the foundation.
In this instance, a foundation must be laid in a level of ground where freezing does not occur - basically below the frost line.
If digging below the frost line is not possible, the foundation will need to be adequately insulated to prevent freezing.
Deep Foundation Types
A deep foundation is primarily comprised of long, cylindrical pillars known as piles. They are usually made of a long-lasting, robust material such as concrete.
These piles are then pushed into the ground for the ultimate support and the structure is built on-top of this.
Deep foundation piling is used in the following instances:
The two most commonly used pile foundations include:
End Bearing Piles
The bottom of the pile is driven down into the soil and essentially rests upon a layer of strong soil or solid rock.
This way, the weight of a structure is transferred through the pile and onto the solid layer for life-long support.
These foundation piles work via friction, transferring the load of a building via the length of the pile used.
The support of this foundation is directly related to the length of the pile used. Basically, the deeper the pile can be driven into the soil, the stronger the support it can bear.
The friction between the pile and the soil surrounding it works to create a strong foundation which can last for decades, if not longer!
In Need of Foundation Repair?
At Continental Foundation Restoration our specialty lies in the laying, repair, and maintenance of your home's foundation.
With over 45 years' industry experience, you can be rest-assured our service is solid.
If you're looking for highly professional, efficient and reliable service in the Houston area, get in touch with us!