A foundation repair specialist is likely to have a number of interesting stories to tell after the many years of repairing sunken slabs, broken footings, bowing foundation walls and badly leaking basements. Amidst a varied job history, an expert is sure to point out a few unfamiliar foundations. This article will provide a few brief descriptions of three types of foundations that have become popular alternatives to more conventional construction.
Every Foundation Has its Day
Although each of these alternative foundations offers specific advantages in comparison to the conventional block or poured concrete foundations, it’s important to note that that all foundations experience the hassle caused by soil and drainage problems.
In other words, these alternative foundations can also shift, settle, bow and crack if soil conditions are bad enough, or if drainage problems cause excess erosion or persistent water pressure.
Whatever the case, the remedy remains the same: homeowners should call in an experienced foundation repair specialist for the proper tools, materials, training and engineering support to solve a broad range of foundation problems.
Permanent Wood Foundations– PWFs
This type of foundation is sometimes referred to as an “all-weather wood foundation.” Just as the name suggests, the foundation is made entirely from wood -solid 2×4 or 2×6 framing lumber with plywood sheathing nailed to the exterior face of the foundation wall.
Pressurized chemical treatments completely penetrate into the wood’s pores to protect against rot and insect attack. PWF walls are nailed together just like standard wood-frame walls, but corrosion-resistant fasteners are used. A concrete footing isn’t required; the walls can be erected on top of a compacted gravel base. This type of foundation was developed for frigid climates where concrete and mortar couldn’t be used, but it has not been limited-it has also been used in temperate areas.
Insulated Concrete Forms– ICFs
The wood or steel forms used in a conventional poured concrete foundation, are designed to be removed once the concrete has been poured and has had a chance to harden. But ICFs remain in place after they have been filled with poured concrete. These forms are made from lightweight foam, and are designed to interlock like giant LEGO™ blocks. This enables workers to assemble an entire foundation wall with surprising ease. Hollowed areas inside each portion of foam create a network of connected channels for the poured concrete to fill. Thanks to the insulation value of the foam, ICF walls are more energy efficient than conventional concrete foundation walls. But the exposed foam surfaces must be protected with finish or wallboard to prevent them from being damaged by sunlight, impact and abrasion.
Precast Panelized Foundations
This type of foundation consists of factory-made wall panels that are trucked to the site, lifted into place on a compacted gravel base, and then fastened together with adhesive and bolts. The precast panels have a smooth concrete exterior surface. Rigid foam insulation and studs are built into the inside face of each panel. Like an ICF foundation, this construction technique offers the advantage of insulation for improved energy efficiency. A panelized foundation for a modest-size house can usually be erected in a single day.