Wondering what the best soil for building a foundation is? If so, you’re asking the right question. The soil underneath your home is essentially the foundation of the home’s foundation. If you’re thinking about building a new foundation or wondering what problems you might encounter with an existing foundation, knowing what type of soil is under the foundation is essential.
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What’s the best soil for building a foundation?
Each type of soil has different properties that can affect how a home’s foundation is supported. Knowing what kinds of soils these are and which one your house sits atop may allow you to catch problems in your foundation even before they arise.
- Clay – Clay is an expansive soil. Expansive soils expand when wet and shrink when dry. When clay is moist, it’s easily moved, manipulated, and shifted. These changes cause a great deal of pressure on foundations and can cause them to move up and down and eventually crack. For this reason, clay is not the best soil for construction.
- Peat – Peat is a dark brown/black soil formed by decomposed organic material. Peat is usually found near wetlands and is very porous. Like clay, peat shrinks and expands depending on weather conditions and has a low bearing capacity, making it a poor support material.
- Sand – When compacted with gravel and other materials, sand does not retain water and, therefore, will not cause any structures above it to shift. However, sand particles can lose their friction over time and be washed away, creating gaps beneath a foundation. Helical piers are an effective fix for foundations supported by sand.
- Rock – Varieties such as bedrock, limestone, and sandstone have exceptionally high bearing capacities, making them suitable for supporting buildings and homes. A rock surface must be level before a foundation is constructed. If it isn’t, the foundation must be held into place with anchors.
- Loam – Loam is an ideal surface for foundation. Typically, loam is a combination of sand, silt, and clay and is crumbly/soft to the touch. Loam handles moisture in a balanced way and will generally not expand or shrink enough to cause damage. Fortunately for us, loam constitutes much of Nebraska’s soil.
As you can see, there is indeed a best soil for building a foundation. If you’re planning a construction project, it’s best to determine what kind of soil you’ll be working with and understand its properties. Even if you’re not planning anything, simply knowing the soil type your home is built on may help to explain current or future foundation problems. For more information about soils, foundations, or anything else concrete, contact the experts at Epp!