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What Is a Concrete Footing?

concrete footing

Do you know what’s supporting your house? The foundation? Footings? Which is correct? Well, technically both, but in their own ways.

It’s easy to confuse a foundation and a concrete footing. While both of these elements bolster your structure, the concrete footing is designed to support the foundation and prevent settlement in unstable soils.

Proper footing construction is essential, otherwise, your home and family’s safety is in jeopardy. Learn more about concrete footings and how local foundation repair experts can help repair and protect your home.

Concrete Footing Explained

A concrete footing is made from poured cement and reinforced with rebar. When calculating the size of the footing, the contractors need to consider the size of the structure being built. They also need to keep in mind the moisture content and bearing capacity of the soil. When built on unstable soils, the foundation can settle over time, and the structure will eventually get damaged. 

When built and placed properly, the footing can provide support to the foundation and the entire home. Apart from houses and buildings, concrete footings also play an important part when it comes to projects such as building a deck or a pergola. 

How to Build a Concrete Footing 

When contractors are building a concrete footing, they need to complete the following steps:

  • Excavate the ground to make room for concrete footing.
  • Assemble the formwork.
  • Mix the cement on a clean surface so unwanted elements won’t end up in the mixture.
  • Pour the cement into the wooden forms within 30 minutes to ensure it sets properly.
  • Bring the refill material or soil to the site.
  • Compact the base of your home.
  • Allow the concrete to cure so they can move on with the construction. 

Not completing any of these steps properly can result in concrete footing failure. 

2 Factors That Impact Concrete Footing Construction 

Although constructing the concrete footing seems relatively easy, it takes a lot more than just digging a hole and pouring the concrete on forms to make a reliable footing. Here are two factors contractors need to consider when building the concrete footing: 

1. Soil Condition 

There are different types of soil, and they all behave differently under the weight of the home. When a footing is being created, the condition of the soil it will sit on needs to be considered since it will play an important part when it comes to the footing’s health.

There are three types of soil the footing will sit on: man-moved soil, backfill soil, and native soil layers. Each of these layers reacts differently to moisture content and temperature.

It is important to consult with a structural engineer who will assess the soil condition before the footing is poured. They can determine whether the ground will be able to bear the weight of the structure. If the soil is unsuitable, it can be removed and replaced with better materials.

Also, contractors can mix the existing soil with aggregates to improve load-bearing capacity. Denser soils have a better load capacity than lighter ones. 

2. Moisture Content 

Another factor contractors need to count on is soil moisture. This factor will determine the density of the concrete footing. If concrete is poured into a hole with dry soil, chances are that the soil will suck the water out of the concrete, and, as a result, the concrete will become much weaker than it is supposed to be. This is why it is important to dampen any dry soil before the concrete is poured.

However, not all dry soils should be moistened the same way. For instance, clay soil does not absorb much water, so it doesn’t take much liquid to dampen it. On the other hand, excess water in the soil increases the water-to-cement ratio in the concrete and weakens the footing. Therefore, it is important to check the moisture content of the soil before any work is done. 

Benefits of a Concrete Footing 

Although it has many purposes, the main one is to support the foundation and keep the home stable. Footings are what prevent the house from settling, so they need to be properly built. Building a foundation on bare earth can result in foundation cracks. The concrete footing is the first line of defense against environmental loads and damaging natural forces. 

However, not every building needs to have a concrete footing. Lighter structures that aren’t so heavy and are not prone to structural damage may not require a concrete footing. 

The Impact of Foundation Settlement 

If a concrete footing is not properly built, it will not protect the home from settling. If the footing malfunctions, you will be able to notice signs of damage related to foundation settlement, such as:

drywall crack off a door frame

These issues will only get worse with time. If you notice any of these problems, don’t hesitate to reach out to local foundation repair professionals for help shoring up your foundation.

Tar Heel Basement Systems Can Protect Your Foundation

A sturdy foundation and foundation footing are keys to your home’s stability and safety. If you are concerned with foundation settlement or you want to learn more about the ways you can keep your foundation in the best possible shape, get in touch with experts at Tar Heel Basement Systems to schedule a free inspection.

After a thorough assessment to determine the cause of the problem, we’ll recommend repairs tailored to your home’s specific needs. Entrust your home to the pros that homeowners across North Carolina have counted on for more than 20 years. Get peace of mind and a stable home once again.


While cosmetic cracks can sometimes be addressed with DIY methods like crack filling, more significant or growing cracks require professional assessment and repair. DIY fixes won’t address underlying structural issues.

While some factors contributing to a sinking foundation are beyond your control, proper maintenance and proactive measures can help minimize the risk. Regularly inspect your home for signs of foundation issues and address any drainage or soil moisture problems promptly.

The duration for repair can vary depending on the severity of the settlement and the repair method chosen. Generally, repairs can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The team at Tar Heel Basement Systems will work diligently to complete the repairs promptly without compromising on the quality of the work. 

Related Resources

Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.

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