The type of foundation you choose for your home will depend on the soil conditions in your area and what you want to do with the space under the house.
If you have a crawlspace or unfinished basement, then it's likely that your foundation is either a slab-on-grade, pier and beam, traditional brick veneer (TBV), concrete block or poured concrete. And if these options are not available to you, there are still plenty of other choices.
Below we'll explore five different types of foundations: Foundation Materials and Methods and Home Style and Design
Type of Foundations for Houses
As we mentioned earlier, the type of foundation you choose will depend on your home's design and how you want to use the space under the house. The five most common foundations are: Slab-on-Grade, Pier and Beam, Concrete Block, Traditional Brick Veneer (TBV), and Poured Concrete.
A solid concrete foundation that sits directly on the soil. It can be poured or precast, and it can be either floating or full. Slab-on-grade foundations are the most common foundation type because they are relatively inexpensive, easy to build and can be used with just about any design. They also have plenty of options for finishing the space under the house, including walks and patios.
Pier and Beam
This foundation uses a series of piers, or columns, which form the vertical part of the structure. These piers are placed deep into the ground to give the home more support and stability. Structural beams then sit on top of these posts to create a solid, strong base for your home. The pier and beam system is perfect for any home that is being built on upland soil.
These foundations are most often used in commercial construction because they can support a large amount of weight. The pier and beam is similar to the wood frame system, only it's made from concrete or steel instead of wood.
A type of foundation that consists of concrete blocks stacked to form a wall. The inner cavities of these blocks provide extra insulation, which helps reduce condensation and extend your home's energy efficiency. To ensure more strength and stability, many concrete block homes are built on a full basement or crawlspace.
Concrete blocks are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes to accommodate any design. These blocks must be stacked with specially designed spacers between them to prevent cracking—and some kits include the spacers as well. Concrete is an ideal foundation material because it's inexpensive, durable and easy to install. It also gives your home natural insulation against the cold and heat.
Traditional Brick Veneer (TBV)
A type of foundation that consists of an inner wall made of brick or stone, with an outer wall made of wood. It can be poured concrete or precast panels, and it's a more durable alternative to traditional wood frame construction.
The inner wall is made of brick or stone to give the home more thermal resistance and durability. These types of foundations are often used in northern climates because they're able to keep out cold air by blocking thermal drafts.
And since this foundation is built on a crawlspace, your basement will have enough room for storage and utility areas like laundry rooms, workshop or mechanical rooms.
A type of foundation that consists of poured concrete; the most basic, least expensive and easiest to work with. This type of foundation can be poured on grade or into the basement. In most cases, a slab-on-grade is made from 6" to 10" thick concrete and includes rebar (reinforcing bars) that help give strength to the home.
Concrete foundations are ideal for homes in seismic zones because they provide excellent stability. These foundations are also good at blocking moisture and preventing mold from growing in the home's walls.
Concrete can be easily colored to match your home, or it can be left its natural gray color for a more rustic look. It's easy to work with concrete, particularly with pre-cast panels that use templates for fast, efficient installation. Also, you can add decorative touches to your concrete, like polished or pebble finishes.
Foundation Materials and Methods
There are three foundation-related decisions a builder has to make: choosing the right material for the job, deciding on a design method and then installing it correctly.
One of the most important things you have to consider when building a foundation is working from the ground up. Any of these materials needs to be installed correctly in order for your home to stand solidly and last for years.
For most homeowners, poured concrete foundations are the most popular choice for a variety of reasons. When installed properly, these types of foundations offer a number of advantages in terms of energy efficiency and strength.
Poured concrete is also one of the least expensive options in foundation work and is simple to install. Although it requires more planning than other foundation types, it's extremely durable and will last for many years with the right maintenance.
Poured concrete works well in both new construction and existing home renovations—and is a great alternative to other materials like wood or block that might not be suitable for older homes.
Stone or concrete block foundations are an ideal choice for homeowners who want to save energy and reduce heating costs in their new homes. Like poured concrete, these types of foundations require a solid foundation that's sturdy enough to support your home's weight. They're also durable and weather-resistant, so they'll last for many years when installed properly.
Stone foundations are especially good for homes with basements. The moisture barrier of stone and concrete block will keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer.
For homeowners who are looking for something more affordable than poured concrete, a wood foundation may be the best option. Wood foundations have many of the same traits as traditional wooden framing but are stronger and wider to support a home's weight.
This type of foundation offers better insulation properties than regular wood stud walls. To ensure their stability, these types of foundations should be installed at a depth of 8" to 12".
Because wood is susceptible to rot and termites, it needs a moisture barrier, typically in the form of rigid foam that's placed outside and under the wood foundation.
When you're choosing between concrete blocks or stone for your basement, you need to evaluate how well they hold up to moisture. If you're in a place where the soil is wet and swampy, concrete block may not be the best option for your new home.
Home Style and Design
Home style and design is as important to your foundation project as any other part of the home. Your choice of material will need to match your plans for interior décor, including color preferences and design themes.
Remember that the cost of materials can affect what you see and feel in a finished basement, so take these factors into consideration when planning renovations or new construction.
Builders need to coordinate the foundation design with their home plans in order for them to blend together and complement each other.
For example, flat concrete slabs look best when matched with a modern theme or clean lines, while brick foundations work well with traditional designs, especially older homes. With this in mind, choose one or two options for your home's foundation material and create a design plan that incorporates it.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Which type of foundation is the strongest?
A poured concrete foundation is the strongest. Concrete offer a number of advantages in terms of energy efficiency and strength. This material is also extremely strong compared to other foundation types and can withstand the elements for many years.
- What are the advantages of concrete blocks?
Concrete blocks offer an inexpensive, low maintenance option for a wide range of homes, including both new construction and existing homes undergoing renovations. They're durable, easy to install and can be finished in a number of different ways to match overall home style.
- What types of foundations have better insulation properties?
A wood foundation is typically better insulated than a traditional stud wall. The foundation offers a thermal break and is installed at a depth of 8" to 12". This type of foundation requires rigid foam insulation, which needs to be placed outside and under the wood foundation.
- What are some advantages to a poured concrete foundation?
A poured concrete foundation has many advantages in terms of energy efficiency and strength. This material is also extremely strong compared to other types of foundations and can withstand the elements for many years.
- What type of foundation is cheapest?
Concrete block foundations are generally the least expensive. This material is also extremely durable and has a long lifespan as well as energy efficiency properties. Although concrete blocks may not be as strong as poured concrete, they are a good option for any homeowner who doesn't want to invest in other materials.
If you’re looking for a foundation that will last and provide the best insulation properties, don't forget to consider poured concrete. This material offers superior strength and is long-lasting compared to other materials like wood or stone. For homeowners on a budget, concrete blocks offer an inexpensive option with low maintenance requirements.
Of course, there are many factors to take into consideration when choosing your house's foundation type so be sure to consult professionals before making any final decisions!