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Soil Types

Without strong and stable soil beneath your foundation, the integrity of your home will be put into question by numerous problems.

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Building a home is a long and complex process. It requires many steps and procedures, but you still have to start somewhere. And since we build our homes from the ground up, that initial phase is choosing and considering a foundation type. 

However, laying down your foundation isn’t something you can do without previous knowledge of what type of soil is beneath it. This is a common and costly mistake that will cause numerous problems in the future. Therefore, the construction crew needs to examine the ground before they start building your new home. 

Read on as we provide you with the most common soil types that can be under your foundation in either Alabama or Tennessee. We’ll go through the ins and outs, describing their properties and how they will affect the construction above them. 

soil under and around foundations

Common Soil Types 

In some ways, you can consider the foundation to be the backbone of your home. As such, it’s all-important to be wary of what materials go into the making of it. Yet, this doesn’t mean that you and your builders can look past the soil beneath it. Moreover, you mustn’t overlook it. 

The soil needs to meet certain demands. Mainly, it needs to be strong and stable to support the structure on top of it. But not every type of soil has the same properties that you’ll be looking for. So, if you mistake one for the other, you’re likely to end up having serious foundation problems in the future. 

These potential issues can range from sinking and developing cracks to even worse scenarios such as the total collapse of your home. To prevent any of this from happening, you must understand different soil types and the physical attributes that come with them. 

Man-Moved Soil 

Just like its name suggests, man-moved refers to a type of soil that builders dig up and move to another location. The purpose for doing so can vary depending on various human activities which include construction. 

The need for this type of soil is on the rise in recent decades because urban locations lack quality soil for developing family homes and commercial multi-floor buildings. Such urban areas need massive excavation, original soil disposal, and finally replacement before any construction can start. 

You can differentiate man-moved soil into three separate categories: 

  • Engineered fill soil: The main purpose of this subtype is to, of course, replace the pre-existing soil on the construction site and to support the structure on it. Consisting of granular materials or select subgrade soils, it compacts in thin lifts. If in proper condition, engineered fill soil can provide support for a foundation to some capacity. 
  • Dumped fills: Although not perfect, dumped fills can provide good cover for landfills because they have less gravel and stones in them. The reason why we say they’re not perfect is that they vary in content. Hence, it may need to be re-engineer it if you’re looking to use it as foundation support. 
  • Hydraulic fills: The third type of man-moved soil is hydraulic fill. Hydraulic fills include select particles of heterogeneous soil with organic and deleterious materials. Sometimes, construction crews treat it as native soil if it has reasonable compressible characteristics. 

Backfill Soil 

Backfill can be any type of material you choose to occupy the holes around your foundation. Builders can use the already dug-up soil, a mixture of gravel and sand, or commercial refill products. The type of backfill will depend on a variety of factors. Still, the process of filling the foundation trench will come in layers. 

Proper backfilling will help the substructure withstand the load of the home or building above it. It will also support the foundation while adding to the overall performance and stability of the structure above it. Also, it’s great for assisting exterior water drainage. 

Depending on your needs, you can choose from several types of backfill. Here are some of them: 

  • Coarse-grained soil: A mixture of gravel, sand soil, and a negligible amount of fine materials, coarse-grained soil is a high-quality type of backfill. It provides fine support for the foundation and is pretty easy to compact. 
  • Limestone screenings: Great for sewer and pipe backfills, limestone is another material that compacts easily. You can also use it as a base for brick paving. 
  • CA7 bedding stone: This is one of the most popular choices in the construction industry when it comes to backfilling. CA7 bedding stone is a grayish material that self-compacts and you can use it for bedding pipes, subbase work, and to generally improve soil drainage. 
  • Commercial by-products: Sometimes, you can’t use previously dug-up soil as it’s not compatible with your needs. So, if you come across this problem, you can opt to use commercial by-products. They can satisfy the needs and condition of the construction site, as well as its engineering properties. 

Native Soil 

Just like its name suggests, this type of soil is native to the construction site. It can be modified to meet certain needs and requirements by infusing peat, sand, compost, or porous ceramic soils. These alterations can create a better and more stable base for construction. 

The thing that makes native soil great is the fact that it doesn’t cost anything. That’s, of course, if you don’t modify it and exclude labor costs. Nevertheless, it’s cheaper than any of the previous two. The decision to use it will depend on factors such as its condition, properties, the local weather, and how often the site is in use. 

Foundation Problems 

In case you’re experiencing foundation problems such as settlement and wall cracks, or it looks like your home might collapse soon, you should act immediately. You can contact professionals at AFS in Tennessee and Alabama to assess the situation. They will provide you with a free inspection and repair quote along with offering possible solutions. You and your family can enjoy the comfort and safety of your home for years to come.

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AFS Coverage Map


Birmingham, AL

130 Interstate Commerce Crt. Bldg. 100 & 200
Alabaster, AL 35007

Chattanooga, TN

214 Industrial Park Dr.
Soddy-Daisy, TN 37379

Columbus, GA

2701 Opelika Road
Phenix City, AL 36870

Huntsville, AL

2415 Jordan Road
Huntsville, AL 35811

Knoxville, TN

3028 E Governor John Sevier Highway
Knoxville, TN 37914

Mobile, AL / Biloxi, MS

3131 Hamilton Blvd.
Theodore, AL 36582

Montgomery, AL

445 Dexter Avenue, Suite 4050
Montgomery, AL 36104

Nashville, TN

1519 Heil Quaker Blvd.
LaVergne, TN 37086