Concrete foundations have been a gold standard for residential, commercial, and industrial applications for generations. In recent years, however, there has been a push by industry insiders & regulatory agencies worldwide for alternatives to the use of concrete such as a variety of composite materials. What’s more, these alternatives have proven to be quite successful at providing the proper rigidity & core strength that one might have found exclusive only to concrete. Nonetheless, concrete is still the go-to material for foundation applications.
Types In Use
Some of the most notable types of concrete foundations include:
- floating slab
- spread footing
- grade beam/perimeter beam
- drilled pier
It is important to note that while these foundation types are common, the vernacular used to describe them can sometimes vary. These variations will depend on the application, as well as the type of site. As such, when hammering out specs for a foundation with a civil construction firm, it will be imperative to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Concrete has been in use for thousands of years. There are alternative material options. However, concrete remains a widely used product. The goal is to always work with the appropriate materials for the project at hand. Far more often than not, concrete prevails.
The use of concrete over other materials can also be explained when one considers its inherent advantages:
- Low Maintenance — Concrete foundations do not require much maintenance over time. When properly put into place, concrete foundations have an observed average lifespan of a century.
- Strength — Few materials are as stout as concrete. While alternative materials are showing promise, concrete has ancient roots that have stood the test of time. Today’s concrete mixes are seemingly stronger than ever, making it harder to go in a different direction.
- Design Flexibility — Concrete starts off life as a ‘fluid’. It can be formed to meet the demands of the building’s stress on it. Some of the largest commercial structures in the world have engineered foundations that are not just big square/rectangular slabs.
A conversation about concrete foundations would be remiss without discussing the cost-effectiveness of concrete when compared to alternative materials. Major construction projects need to work within the framework of fairly rigid budgets. Concrete happens to be an ideal material to use when trying to get the best performance in the face of fiscal responsibility.
Not all concrete is the same, though. In fact, companies specializing in concrete are quick to point out the differences that exist between residential mixes versus commercial mixes. And as one might imagine, not all commercial applications are the same either. Foundations need to handle traffic. This varies depending on the number of floors & available space to be occupied. The weight of this foot traffic will shift from day to day, season to season, and year to year. Getting the mix right is an engineering marvel that relies on precision. There are also important considerations about the physical location where a foundation will be poured. Work includes excavation, grading, and trenching. Foundations can be compromised.
Ultimately, the key element across any, and all, concrete foundations is the astounding design & engineering that goes into them. Commercial & industrial construction experts look at concrete as a living thing. It grows stronger over time & when properly mixed & poured, provides lifetimes of service. Given the multifaceted prowess of concrete, it’s easy to see why it maintains a substantial presence in modern construction.
CCI Culberson Engineering & Construction has been at the forefront of engineering, construction, and maintenance across a variety of services including civil concrete & concrete foundations. Talk to one of our team members today.