different types of concrete foundation

Different types of concrete foundation

Have you ever wondered what foundation types are available for modern houses? I have, and this list is a presentation of that. Before you build foundations and footings, look further at what concrete offers.

There are many types of foundations for houses. It’s reasonable that they all have their pros and cons as well. I’ve gathered a few concrete foundation types for comparison below. One may not be better, but it might be valuable for those considering buying or building a building.

Concrete block foundation

Concrete block foundation is the first popular type of foundation in the US. Concrete blocks are made out of concrete like poured concrete, only the gravel is smaller. Unlike poured concrete, concrete blocks are hollow. Blocks are stacked like bricks during construction.

When blocks are piled during construction, you can see from top to bottom of hollow parts. Later, those will be filled, and the wall will be solid. Concrete blocks will also be reinforced with steel for a more substantial structure.

A concrete block foundation has better carry capacity than poured concrete. If the building is heavy, it’s a good option. Seams are the weak point; if they are not done well or form cracks, they can leak water. Poured concrete can crack, too, if not done well or not maintained well.

Concrete foundation reinforcement

Poured concrete foundation

A poured concrete foundation is another popular foundation type in the US. It’s as good as a concrete block foundation if done well. Most things can last a long time, and it’s a matter of preference which type of foundation is chosen.

It’s reinforced with steel to make it durable against surrounding forces like ground. Before the concrete foundation is poured, the footing has to be done with concrete. Then, the wall forms are built upon it and run. After forms are taken off and concrete has cured, it’s waterproofed so the soil won’t get concrete wet.

Concrete pouring, if done well, is a faster solution than blocks. Forms are relatively quick to set, and pouring is also done fast. A vibrating tool has to be used on concrete so there will be no air pockets on the final product, and it’s a solid pour. The cost of poured concrete foundation walls is also relatively low, which also helps.

Concrete slab foundation

A concrete slab foundation is another popular way to set up a foundation for a house. Slab foundation cost is also one of its most significant selling points. It’s one of the cheapest options as it’s slab made of concrete.

If you want to check how to build a concrete foundation, I have a few examples on this site.

A slab foundation is also poured, so it needs to form around it from wood during curing. The slab is thicker from the outside and thinner from the center. A slab foundation is also poured all at one go and is reinforced with steel or in some other way.

The most significant advantage of slab foundation is its slow cost, making it available for many. It’s also a fast way to set a foundation.

It can lower some energy bills like all concrete foundations, but the main fault is the possibility of cracking. Slab foundations don’t handle a freezing environment very well; there is a danger of cracking because of that.

I’d not advise building a slab-on-grade foundation in cold climates, but wait for the summer to avoid paying for weeks of heating.

Concrete pier foundation

As its name suggests, a concrete pier foundation is a vertical concrete pillar foundation. It can be used when you want your structure off the ground. The house frame, for example, is built upon multiple piers.

There are plastic forms for pouring piers for the foundation. These forms also have the footing part on them, so all can be done in a single pour. Traditional wooden forms can also be used, and reinforcing should be done.

This kind of foundation is good when the ground is wet. It’s also good to consider winter temperatures, as frost heaves can move the pillars if not done well. There are footing tubes. That can at least partially resist this.

Basement Foundation

A deeper underground basement foundation can be as tall as a living space. That also makes it more expensive when you compare it to other foundations. It can be converted to some residing space if done well, making it a reasonable investment.

Extra living space would be its best selling point. Basement foundation can also be done on a slope so the sunlight can enter. It’s also suitable for a small plot where you can’t build wide but can go tall.

The downside of the basement foundation and its use as living space is moisture. Slope building could help with proper footing drain and waterproofing from inside and outside.

Precast Concrete Panel foundation

Precast concrete panels are like building blocks ready to be built from the factory. Weather plays a minor role as these can be put up in almost any weather. Also, the panels are as strong as concrete because they are factory-made.

Unlike most foundations, precast concrete panels don’t need footing. Building starts from gravel and panels so a house can be set up in one day. Panels can also be insulated, meaning a house that keeps warmth during construction.

The cost of concrete panels is higher, but they come insulated and with studs. That might help save money on the labor side. Fast setup also means less downtime on construction with less waiting.

Repairing concrete foundation helps you prolong its age.

It’s good to know how to repair cracks in concrete foundation walls to get the most for your money. It is an easy and essential tool like a hammer drill with a chisel bit, which is enough to get started—or hammer and chisel, depending on the crack type. Also, note that if it’s seriously split, it’s best to call an expert to estimate it.

Fixing foundation cracks from the outside is relatively easy. Use a hammer drill to remove loose concrete if it’s a small crack—or hammer and chisel. Next, mix some mortar that is meant for foundation fixing. If there is an ½ inch or bigger crack, it would be best to call someone specialized to see it to avoid more significant problems.

The cracks outside may be caused by reinforcing steel too close to the surface. If the steel is already showing and the concrete has cracked off, even a hammer and chisel will do the job. It’s essential to get the space around the steel poking out clear of quickly coming off the concrete. Something like finger width is enough most of the time.

If the steel is rusted, a hammer drill could be used to get healthy steel that’s not corrupted. We have at least 2-3 fingers width of healthy steel before patching is good.

Next, the steel and surrounding should be air pressured clean or sprayed clean with water if outside. Lastly, when the concrete is dry or a little moist, the spot can be covered with corrosion-resistant mortar and the surface leveled to look like the rest of the foundation.

There are also other kinds of cracks on the inside if it’s something like a basement foundation. Hairline cracks are usually nothing to worry about. Those happen as concrete cures and shrinks a bit. The same can be seen on mortars as well.

If the concrete crack is more significant than the hairline, it might not be a problem; it might still be caused by curing. Still, it’s good to repair so that insects and moisture can’t get in.

Sealing it with something flexible is a bad idea as it hides the problem. Some epoxy sealants are a repair as well. The critical part would be getting the repair deep into the crack. If we seal it only on the surface, moisture and water might eat the concrete from the other side and around the patch.

It’s good to be able to take care of your property, but it’s also good to leave potential risks to professionals. There is always a limit to what you should handle yourself. Foundation is what everything is built on; if it’s ruined, it is pretty hard to fix.


As you can see, there are multiple options when building a foundation. A slab foundation might not be suitable where a pier foundation would be best and the other way around.

It’s good to check out the pros and cons before planning further. Also, once your foundation is placed, it’s good to take good care of it so no big problems will occur.