Foundations - Your choices for material
Written by: Haliburton Home & Cottage Directory
If you are building a new home or cottage, or adding an addition to
an existing structure, discuss with your builder the different types
of foundation possibilities. There are three traditional types to
choose from – the concrete block, insulting concrete forms (ICFs)
and a permanent wood foundation (PWF).
Whether building on
piers, crawlspace or complete basement, the traditional material
is concrete block.
- With block walls, the quality of concrete masonry units is controlled
by the manufacturer. With poured walls, quality can be influenced
by the contractor increasing the amount of water (thus decreasing
the concrete strength) and by a number of other environmental
- Concrete masonry walls are installed dry. Poured walls remain
damp and wet for some time after installation.
- Block basements add flexibility because they can be fitted around
any shape of door and window.
- With concrete masonry units, you are not limited to the size
of forms, as in poured concrete walls.
- A basement made with concrete masonry units is less likely to
crack than a poured concrete basement because when poured in forms,
the concrete will shrink as it dries in natural environmental
conditions. The warmer it is during drying, the worse the cracking
Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs) are hollow foam blocks or panels
which are stacked in the shape of building walls. The forms are filled
with reinforced concrete – sandwiching a heavy, high-strength
material between two layers of light, high-insulation foam. The resulting
walls offer many benefits including air tightness, strength, sound
attenuation, insulation and fire resistance.
wood foundation (PWF) is a complete wood frame foundation or crawlspace
for low-rise, residential industrial, commercial and other types
of buildings. PWF’s are built using lumber and plywood, pressure-treated
with approved wood preservatives.
PWF’s advantages over other types of foundations include:
- In-place framing for easy and economical insulation and finishing.
- Energy savings because of high insulation levels of PWF’s
(about 20% of heat loss is experienced through the foundation)
- Dry, comfortable living space provided by a superior drainage
system.(which does not require weeping tile).
- Increased living space since drywall can be attached directly
to foundation wall studs.
- Resistance to damage, such as cracks, from cold weather .
- Adaptable to most building designs, including crawl spaces,
additions and walk-out basements.
- Build-able during the winter months using minimal measures around
the footings to protect them from freezing.
- Rapid construction, whether framed on site or pre-fabricated
Ask your builder about all the advantages and disadvantages of
all the options available. They have the experience necessary to
help you decide the best material to use.
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