Many homes across the U.S. sit on foundations that have poured concrete walls. Although it is also possible to build these walls out of concrete blocks, this is a less popular option since this building material has many disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at poured foundation walls, their pros and cons, how they are built, and their purpose.
What Is a Poured Foundation Wall?
Unlike standard block foundation walls, poured ones are more resistant to soil and hydrostatic pressure. They also have better lateral strength.
To make this type of foundation wall, contractors will pour concrete into wooden forms. Thanks to this technique, these foundation walls don’t have any joints which makes them ideal for waterproofing. In addition, since concrete doesn’t need a lot of time to cure, poured foundation walls take less time to construct than block foundation walls. Thanks to their versatility, it is easy for builders to make last-minute changes on the spot.
What Purpose Does a Poured Foundation Wall Serve?
Poured foundation walls have several purposes. Here are some of the most important ones:
The main function of foundation walls is to support the entire structure. Poured concrete walls have compressive and flexural strength which means they are able to hold the weight of the entire building. These walls are much stronger than those made of concrete blocks, which is why contractors prefer them. In addition, they are reinforced with steel, so they can bear vertical and lateral loads without a problem.
Foundation walls are not just impacted by the weight above. They also have to endure wind, snow, and other factors that can cause damage to your foundation and home.
When building a foundation, contractors have to make sure that it can endure the weather and the elements. Since poured concrete walls are strong and do not have any joints, they are less prone to water infiltration.
As a homeowner, you want to keep your home warm during those cold winter days. Luckily, heat retention is one of many qualities poured foundation walls possess. These walls provide homes with thermal insulation, which automatically reflects on your utility bills.
Since the entire structure is supported by foundation walls, they mustn’t collapse if there is a fire. Poured foundation walls are indestructible and will hold out against fire much better than other building materials.
How Thick Should Concrete Foundation Walls Be?
When building a poured concrete wall, contractors make sure that it is at least 12 inches thick. There are several factors the dimension of the foundation wall depends on, including minimum reinforcement cover and elementary structural requirements. Both factors can add a couple of inches to the thickness of the wall. Other factors that play an important role are the soil type, reactivity, and severity of the exposure.
Building a Poured Foundation Wall
Building a foundation wall requires precise calculations and heavy machinery, so it is always better to leave this task to skilled contractors. The first thing they will do is find a perfect spot for the foundation, which they will mark out with stakes and masonry strings. When marking where the trenches will go, all lines must meet at 90-degree angles. Next, flat-bottomed trenches are dug out to support the walls. Wooden forms are placed in the trenches and the concrete for the foundation walls is poured into them and left to harden a bit. Contractors will reinforce the footings, joints, and any other weak spots using rebar. In the end, the concrete is left to cure completely.
How Good Are Poured Foundation Walls?
Every foundation wall has its upsides and downsides and poured concrete walls are no different. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of this type of wall.
- Excellent waterproofing properties: If you are building a new home, it is imperative to construct a strong structure that provides as much water resistance as possible in any weather conditions. Poured concrete walls do not have joints and are much denser than concrete block foundation walls, so they won’t buckle or bow easily under pressure.
- Easy to construct and cures fast: Poured concrete walls can be built with two or three days of work, saving time and money.
- Strong and solid construction: Poured concrete walls are almost indestructible and offer a higher amount of flexural and compressive strength than concrete block foundation walls.
- Easy to paint and to texture: This material is not just durable, it can also be easily colored, textured, and shaped, so you can make your concrete walls look like a completely different material.
The problem with poured concrete foundation walls is that they require footings and perimeter drains. In addition, they are very likely to leak and you can have a problem with chipping concrete.
Chipping or scaling is what happens when the top layer of the concrete falls off and exposes the concrete underneath. It can occur as a consequence of using low-quality concrete, due to the freeze-thaw cycle, or as a result of excess water in the soil. This problem can be purely cosmetic, but it can also be structural. If it is cosmetic, it won’t affect your home in any way. However, problems of a structural nature need to be addressed as soon as possible.
If you are looking for strong, water-resistant, versatile walls for your future home, poured foundation walls are the perfect choice for you. If you wish to waterproof them or you are looking for a professional who will repair cracks in your foundation walls, contact experts at AFS to schedule a free inspection and repair quote. We proudly serve areas of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee, so contact us today.