It is right to say that building the foundation is the most critical step in the construction process. Any mistake done at the foundation stage will incrementally be magnified as the building grows taller. Furthermore, it is laborious and costly to rectify an error done when building the foundation. It is, therefore, essential to ensure you are doing the right thing and using appropriate materials in the foundation.
Concrete is the most used material in foundations. Several factors make concrete a suitable material in building foundations. These factors include
Concrete is made from limestone, one of the most abundant minerals on earth. It is, therefore, readily available. Furthermore, concrete can be made from the waste products of other industries such as steel mills and power plants. The fact that concrete can be produced in the required quantities also makes concrete foundations resource efficient. Further, excess concrete structures can be crushed and used for other purposes such as backfills.
Durability and energy efficiency
Concrete guarantees durability. This is because it neither burns nor rusts. Besides that, concrete has an inherent ability to absorb and retain heat. This makes houses with concrete foundations more energy efficient. Heating and cooling costs are reduced.
Impermeable structures make the best foundations. If the foundation allows water to pass through it, the building will steadily grow weak. Concrete can be tuned to achieve the desired impermeability. This is done by filling spaces in concrete structures with materials such as talc and chalk.
Types of concrete foundations and their implications
Below are the three types of concrete foundations. Each of these types is suitable for particular conditions.
Slab-on-grade foundations: These foundations are suitable for areas where freezing is rare. Slab-on-grade foundations consist of one layer of concrete that rests on gravel. The layer is normally a few inches thick. The slab is substantially thicker at the edges and rests on gravel. Thick edges create a footing while the gravel helps with drainage. Within the concrete slabs is wire mesh to prevent cracking.
T-shaped foundations: These are the most popular types of concrete foundations. They are most suitable for areas where the ground freezes. A footing is first constructed below the frost line. Walls are then constructed on the footing. These walls are narrower than the footing. Finally, the slab is placed between the walls.
Frost-protected foundations: These foundations are suitable for supporting heated structures. They consist of a monolithic concrete slab and two sheets of insulation. One sheet of insulation is fixed on the outer side of the foundation wall while the other is laid at the base of the foundation wall above the gravel. The insulation sheets minimize loss of heat from the edges of the concrete slab.