Pier & Beam Vs. Slab: Which Foundation Is Better?

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March 16  |  Blog  |   Foundation Repair Solutions

Most North Texas home foundations fall into one of two categories, and Foundation Repair Solutions maintains an expertise in repair for both pier & beam and slab foundations. But which of the two are more ideal for your home foundation? And is either type more likely to need a repair in the future?

Most homes built in the 1960s or earlier were constructed on pier & beam foundations. Sometimes called post-and-beam, these foundations have a crawl space between the home and the ground. Pier-and-beam foundations have several moving parts. First, there is a concrete beam or masonry foundation wall that supports the exterior wall of the house. On the interior of the foundation, piers are used to support beams, which then support the floor joist.

Pier & Beam Foundation

Positive traits of the pier & beam foundation include:

  1. It is easy to remodel and repair utilities and wiring, which are easy to access via the crawl space.
  2. Extra insulation can be easily added under the floor.
  3. Some foundation problems may be less expensive to repair.

On the negative side for pier & beam foundations:

  1. They take longer to construct, which increases the cost of the home.
  2. Homeowners must be ever-vigilant to ensure they do not develop bug or rodent issues in the crawl space.
  3. Flooring costs can be higher, and creaky floors can easily develop.
  4. Pipes may freeze under the home.
  5. Water issues can develop in the crawl space, leading to musty smells, rotting wood and mold.

During the 1970s, tract home builders adopted the slab foundation, which is much less expensive to build. Also called “slab on grade”, these foundations require little site preparation or formwork.  The perimeter of the slab is typically about 24 inches, while the interior can be as little as 4 inches to 6 inches deep. It is poured on top of a base of gravel, reinforced by rebar, and a plastic sheet is laid under the concrete to keep moisture from wicking up into the slab.

Slab Foundation

Pros of the slab foundation include:

  1. Construction costs are very low.
  2. No water, bugs or rodents will get under the house.
  3. Because the pipes are inside the slab, pipes under the house will not freeze.
  4. There is a wider choice of flooring options, including polished concrete.

Cons of the slab foundation include:

  1. Plumbing and gas lines are inside the concrete slab, making it more expensive and messy to fix any problems that develop.
  2. Concrete slabs are prone to cracking.
  3. If the foundation fails, repairs can be more expensive.
  4. Basements are not an option with this construction option.

Both foundation types require a minimal amount of regular maintenance. For slab foundations, homeowners must ensure the soil around the foundation has a consistent moisture level. In addition, if large trees are near the foundation, a root barrier may be necessary.  For pier & beam foundations, homeowners must ensure there are no issues with leaky plumbing, since water under the house will cause a myriad of issues. In addition, the area must be regularly checked and treated to keep it bug- and rodent-free.

Whichever foundation type lies beneath your home, don’t hesitate to schedule a free in-home estimate with us and we’d be happy to come take a look at it!

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