Is pier and beam better than slab?


Which foundation is best?

When you’re building a house, there are many factors that need to be decided on, and the first one is what kind of foundation do you want: Pier and beam or slab foundation are the two most common, and depending on what type of ground, structure, and local regulations, both are good choices.

Is one better than the other? It will probably depend on who you ask, but many will tell you a pier and beam foundation are the best. So, let’s talk about what a pier and beam foundation is versus what a slab foundation is, and along the way, we’ll answer a few common questions.

A slab foundation is inexpensive and quick to build. They are built by pouring concrete over steel rebar within a form that is typically built from wood. There are downsides to a slab foundation though:

  • Slab foundation repair is expensive because the contractor will have to jack up the house, drill or tunnel into the foundation, and pour new cement beams
  • Plumbing repairs in a house on a slab foundation an often require the contractor pull up flooring and jackhammer into the slab
  • Slab foundations do not have allowance or space for a basement

What is a pier and beam foundation?

Pier and beam molds are made by pouring concrete piers that are reinforced with steel rebar that forms a strong cage inside the pier. They then place the piers on top of a concrete pad that is reinforced with steel rebar and the foundation beams rest on those piers. Pier and beam foundation repairs are easier and less expensive for the following reasons:

  • Pier and beam materials are less expensive
  • Pier and beam vs crawlspace allowing foundation repair and plumbing repairs to be done easier and faster.
  • Pier and beam foundation offers more stability in areas where the soil shifts

Can foundation piers be adjusted?

There are many factors that can determine if adjusting the piers of a pier and beam foundation is possible, such as:

  • Foundation pier layout
  • Pier intervals
  • Flexibility of the house framing
  • The specified tolerance
  • The specification of level

Sometimes, adjustments under the sagging area of a pier and beam foundation are enough. And other times, two or more passes in a “round-robin” method to adjust and readjust the shimming and/or post lengths. In most cases, all the piers need adjusting, and this is something that a contractor will advise and quote after inspecting the property.

How many foundation piers are needed?

All foundations, whether they are slab foundation or pier and beam foundation, are evaluated on case-by-case. With a slab foundation, installing piers under it is messy and if there is settling happening, it is imperative that the process is thorough and complete to stop the settling. If not, the structure will weaken, even begin deteriorating, and more expensive to repair.

With a pier and beam foundation, the number of piers will depend on two primary factors:

  • How unlevel
  • How large

Some pier and beam foundation leveling jobs only need 1 or 2 piers. Larger square footage with several sagging areas may need as many as 10 to 15, or more.

House with a foundation

Are pier foundations good?

Today, pier and beam foundations are not used in new homes, primarily because of the cost factor. Even though they do make a stable foundation, a downside to them is their tendency to deteriorate. Since repairing them is less expensive than a slab foundation, they are still a favorite.

A pier and beam foundation is easier to install, repair, and add or repair plumbing. Another downside to this foundation is the insects and pests, such as termites and rodents, are attracted to the crawl space of these structures. On the upside to that, though, it is easier to detect and treat that insect and pest activity than with a slab foundation.

Pier and beam foundations are perfect for the following situations:

  • In areas with significant soil contraction and expansion
  • A homesite on uneven grade or hillside
  • A homesite in a potential flood area

They always built many homes built during the 1960s in southern states like Texas on a pier and beam foundation. The technology for pouring concrete was not a refined technology until later, and this was the most stable way to build a foundation. 

A good example of a pier and beam foundation is a home on stilts, except a pier and beam home isn’t that high up. They are high enough to create a crawl space where the plumbing is running, making it easy to find plumbing issues and repair them without disrupting the inside of the home with a jackhammer.

When it comes to choosing the right foundation for your home, review the answers we have provided here. The information we found can guide you to ask your contractor the right questions to get the best solution. Topping that perfect foundation of your new home with the right type of gutter system is sure to give you a home to enjoy for many years to come. Call 817-400-7625 Today for your pier and beam foundation needs in Dallas-Fort Worth Area, TX.