Concrete Foundation Vs Cinder Block Foundation - Building & Construction - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 03-12-2013, 05:23 PM   #1
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Concrete Foundation vs Cinder Block foundation

Which is the best choice for my home? I plan to build on the side of a little mountain. There will be some tree removal involved as well as lots of dirt work obviously. The house will be partially under ground to prevent run off from going into the house. The surface of the ground has lots of sandstone. I'm assuming we will be digging that up and breaking through it throughout the process. I'm also afraid of the house settling because we will be building on disturbed earth rather than a flat already hard and packed spot....advice anyone??


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Old 03-12-2013, 05:59 PM   #2
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The best choice is totally a function of what you want to achieve. Do you want lowest initial cost? Least maintenance? Strongest foundation? Fastest to construct? Code compliant? Doable as a DIY project? Do you want a certain appearance?

As you have supplied little information, not even your location, your question has no context, and there is no basis to discuss.


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Old 03-12-2013, 06:35 PM   #3
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Appearance of the foundation is not important, code compliant, strongest foundation, ability for it to withstand settling if possible. There will be experienced people assisting me so whether it is A DIY project or not should not really matter. Of course fast construction would be nice but quality and durability are of the utmost importance. I'm located in Casper, Wyoming. House will be built on the side of a mountain and surrounded by trees....
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Old 03-12-2013, 06:49 PM   #4
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Has this been designed by an engineer or architect? Do you have plans? Are you just pipe dreaming? whaaaaaa.................?

Your foundation has to be on footings that extend below the frost line, and are designed to take the weight of the structure. What do you mean on a flat spot????
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Old 03-12-2013, 07:03 PM   #5
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I am referring to a flat piece of land rather than the hill side .... Plans are not done. I am trying to brainstorm. All I need to know is whether any body has any knowledge of the pros and cons of the two types of foundations generally speaking. Which is cheaper? Which will take on moisture better? Which will resist settling? Which is stronger? I am not experienced in the construction of houses do I'm not sure what else I need to know. Was hoping someone else might have some ideas that they could bring to the table if there are specifics questions that can be asked to help with your ideas. I can answer them.
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Old 03-12-2013, 08:37 PM   #6
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your going to want concrete with rebar.
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Old 03-12-2013, 08:43 PM   #7
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OK, let's take it from the top. Cinder blocks have not been manufactured for probably 50 years, all block now is concrete (cinder blocks were made from wood ash). Concrete block is typically referred to as concrete masonry units (cmu), and is perfectly acceptable as a foundation material provided it is very carefully installed, which generally means the hollow core is reinforced with steel and filled with concrete.

One advantage of cmu over a cast in place concrete wall is that cmu does not require a concrete truck, so can be installed in difficult to access areas. It also does not require forms, and is generally a little less expensive than a cast in place concrete wall.

Personally I prefer a cast in place concrete wall, since it is monolithic, and is more likely to resist lateral load from soil. If you carefully water proof the concrete wall, it is highly resistant to moisture penetration, more so than block.

Construction of either type of wall requires knowledge and skill, in my opinion not a good learning DIY project. Preparation of the foundation for either type of wall is very important, and if there is ANY possibility of high groundwater, you should plan on designing and constructing a perimeter drain. The topic of perimeter drains has been discussed repeatedly on this forum, I will not repeat the discussion here, you can do a search for threads.
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Old 03-12-2013, 09:08 PM   #8
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If you plan on a finished basement definately pour concrete. If just a crawlspace block foundation might work depending on specs. I would go with superior walls foundation. 5000 psi and ready for drywall. Some gc"s love them others don't .
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Old 03-12-2013, 09:10 PM   #9
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Does the guy in Wyoming want a basement or a crawlspace or a slab or what?
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Old 03-12-2013, 09:20 PM   #10
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id take a solid concrete wall foundation over a block wall anyday.. much stronger and far less chance of a leak
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Old 03-13-2013, 07:37 AM   #11
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I'm pretty sure you can't build a foundation on "disturbed earth."
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Old 03-13-2013, 09:05 AM   #12
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Just some trivia. Cinder Blocks were made from portland cement and coal cinders. A plentiful supply was available from when this country had a coal fired economy. Some places used slag from steel mills in place of cinders and there were companies in Pennsylvania that processed slag for use in cement, block, paving, etc.
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:16 AM   #13
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I didn't realize people even used cmu blocks for foundations anymore. The only thing we see them used for is commercial buildings, storage units, drugstores, that sort of thing. Do it with concrete if you can get a mixer and pump anywhere close.
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Old 03-13-2013, 11:28 AM   #14
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It seems that a lot of guys here are disparaging CMU. I don't agree with any of that.
I think that concrete is 'over-all' the superior product but is more expensive and if the CMU is done right can be the better choice for you for a variety of reasons.
You can put a foundation on "disturbed earth' if the fill is engineered.
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Old 03-13-2013, 11:48 AM   #15
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CMU construction can be faster and cheaper than concrete, because of the availability of many sizes, shape/configurations and strengths usually available. There is no absolute reason to fill every core with grout (concrete not allowed) and only the core cells with a rebar must be filled. To the different thicknesses (6",8",10",12", 14" and 16") units the spacing or rebars can be minimized up the point of the minimum bar spacing.

In my metro area, there many, many hundred thousand (probably over 1,000,000 homes) sitting on unreinforced CMU foundations. As a different example, I have also seen hundreds of 10 to 22 story loadbearing CMU structures built using 6" thick loadbearing CMU walls with partially grouting is an area where they are preferred over poured concrete. These were built to the current U.S. standards because of speed on construction and economics.



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