types of foundation

Types of Foundation & Their Uses in Building Construction

The Major types of foundation are classified as under:

types of foundation
Types of Foundation

Shallow Foundation:

When a depth of foundation is less than the width of foundation then it is known as Shallow Foundation. Generally, shallow foundation placed no more than 6 ft depth from the lowest finished floor. 

A shallow foundation is generally used when,

(1) The sufficient bearing capacity of soil available at shallow, and

 (2) Foundation material or strata do not result in undue settlement.

The shallow foundation has a minimum depth of about 800 mm and the maximum depth, not more than 4 meters the ground. This type’s foundations are popular for low rise building construction.

Footings are the important structural element which transfers the load of column, beam, slab and retaining structures to the soil safely.

To transfer above loads properly to the soil, footings must be designed to

  • Prevent excessive settlement
  • Minimize differential settlement, and
  • Provide adequate safety against overturning and sliding.


1) Isolated Spread Footing:

It is one of the simplest and worldwide popular types of foundation. An isolated footing is mostly used to support a single column. This type of foundation suitable when columns are too closely spaced.

  1. Stepped footing
  2. Simple spread footing.
  3. Sloped footing.
i) Stepped footing:-

In this type of footings are provided with steps in foundation sides, which is also known as pocestar. The step or pocestar is starting from the bottom up to column size. Stepped footings are generally used when there is a heavy load coming from the upper superstructure.

 ii) Simple spread footing:-

In simple spread footing, only Foundation base is constructed and further followed by a column. This type of footings is suitable when there is no excessive heavy load coming from the upper part of the structure as in case of stepped footings.

iii) Sloped footing:-

In this type of footing, there is a foundation base and further followed by column. But the slope is given to connect the base to column size and which is also resemble the shape of trapezoidal. It is also known as trapezoidal slope footing.

Advantages of isolated footing:-

  • In this type of footings shuttering material, the requirement is very less, which is making it economical compared to others.
  • No skilled labor is required.
  • It is time-saving because of simple shape.


  • Where columns are not closely spaced.
  • Loads on footings are less.
  • The Safe bearing capacity of the soil is generally high at low depth.


2) Wall Footings:

types of foundation
Wall Foundation

Wall footings are pad or spread and strip footings which are used to support structural or nonstructural walls to transmit and distribute the loads to the soil. All footing runs along the direction of the wall. The thickness and size of the footing are specified based on the type of soil at the site. The width of footing is generally kept between 2-3 times the widths of the wall.

The wall footing can be constructed from plain concrete, or reinforced concrete stone, brick. The wall footing is best suited for small buildings.


It can more effective for load-bearing structure and boundary wall construction.

3) Combined Footings:

Combined footings are provided when the column is closely spaced. So that their footing overlap with each other and when soil bearing capacity of a soil is lower this type of footing are used. In such when columns are closely spaced and if we provide separate isolated footings would overlap, in such case, it is better to provide a combined footing than isolated footing.

types of foundation
Combined Footing

Following are the situation when we can use combined footing,

  • When center to center distance between columns is small and soil has a low bearing capacity. Individual column footing may overlap each other.
  • In case when the column is located near to property line and sewer line, the column center of gravity will not coincide with footing. Then, it is necessary to provide combined this footing with that of the adjacent internal column.
  • Dimensions of one side of footing are restricted to due to any reason, so that column footings may be combined.


  • For Column are closely spaced.
  • Column located near to property line or sewer line.



 4) Cantilever or Strap Footings:

When two or more footing is connected by a beam, it is known as combined footing and beam connecting footing are known as a strap. When a square or rectangular footing located near to property line and if it concentrically located under the column would extend into the adjoining property, which may not be permissible. For such a situation a trapezoidal combined footing may be an alternative.

Types of foundation
Cantilever or Strap Footing

Sometimes, when the distance between this column and the adjoining column is big, the combined trapezoidal footing will be quite narrow, with high bending moments. In such a case, strap footing may be provided. The strap beam provided to connect two spread footing columns does not remain in contact with soil and thus does not transfer any pressure to the soil. 

The main function of the strap beam is to transfer a load of the heavily loaded outer column to the inner one. While transferring this load strap footing have to experience shear force and bending moment. This should be taken into consideration while designing cantilever or strap footings.
below figure shows the different position in which this footing can be utilized and their choice depends upon the physical conditions of each specific case.


  • The column is located near the property line and its dimension restricted


5) Raft or Mat Foundation:

A raft foundation is also known as Mat foundation, it a continuous slab covers the entire are of building a foundation and transfer its weight to the ground.

A Raft foundation also used for low bearing capacity soil, as it distributes the weight of the building over the entire area of the building, and not over the smaller zone or at the individual point. Ultimately reduces the stress per area on the soil.

The stress concept is very simple for civil engineers. We know that stress is ratio weight by area. For example, if a building has are 10m x 10 m weighs 100 tons, and has a raft foundation, then the stress on the soil is weight/area = 100/100 = 1 ton per square meter.

In another case, if the same building has 4 individual footings, each of 1m x 1m, then the total area of the foundation would be 4 m2, and the stress on the soil would be 100/4, which is about 25 tons per square meter. So it increases load per unit area on the foundation.


  • It is recommended when compressed soil such as very soft clay, alluvial deposits and compressible fill material where strip, pad or pile foundations would not provide a stable foundation without excessive excavation. 



Deep Foundation:

A foundation in which the depth of foundation is more than the width of the foundation is known as a deep foundation.

1) Pile Foundation:

The pile is a type of deep foundation is made of concrete, timber or steel. It is like a small-diameter column which is driven into or cast in the ground. In simple words, pile foundation has depth more than shallow foundation.

This types of the foundation are used when the soil below the foundation not having sufficient bearing capacity to carry the load of building into deep soil up to hard strata. The major function of the pile foundation is to transmit loads to the lower level of the ground by the combination of friction pile and end-bearing pile at the pile point or base.


We use a pile foundation when:
1. The compressible or weak upper soil layer
2.  Presence of horizontal forces3. Expansive soils in the foundation
4. Subjected to uplifting forces
5. Soil erosion

2) Pier(Caisson) Foundation:

A Caisson is one type of watertight retaining structure used in the construction of a concrete dam, as pier of bridge construction in the river or for the repair of ships. Caisson is prefabricated hollow box or cylinder sunk into the water or ground to some desired depth and then filled with concrete thus forming a foundation.

Caisson foundation is majorly used for bridge construction & other structures that require foundation beneath rivers & other bodies of water. This is because caisson can be transported by floating to the construction site and sunk in water to use as a pier of foundation.

They are similar to pile foundation but are installed using a different method. Caisson foundation used, when the soil of adequate bearing strength is found below surface layers of weak materials such as fill or peat.

 It is one of type of deep foundation,  which is constructed above ground level, then sunk to the required level by excavating or dredging material from within the caisson.


Under Water Construction of bridge pier, Retaining wall or Waterlogged is construction.

Read More:


Leave a Reply