Raft Foundation (Mat Foundation) | Types & Advantages

Raft Foundation: Exploring Types, Mat Foundation

Raft Foundation

A raft foundation, also known as a mat foundation, is a type of foundation used to support structures that have a large footprint or require uniform support across the entire area.

It is a solid reinforced concrete slab that sits directly on the soil and spreads the load of the structure over a large area. The foundation is designed to distribute the weight of the building evenly, reducing the risk of settlement or uneven settling.

A raft foundation is typically used when the soil has a low bearing capacity, or when the structure is built on top of fill or other soft, unstable soils.

The foundation is also useful for structures that require a uniform, stable base, such as large industrial buildings, multi-story buildings, or high-rise buildings.

The construction of a raft foundation involves excavating the soil to a depth that is sufficient to support the weight of the building. The soil is then compacted and leveled to provide a stable base for the concrete slab. A layer of insulation may be placed on top of the soil to protect against temperature fluctuations and prevent moisture from entering the building.

Next, a reinforced steel mesh is placed on top of the insulation, followed by a layer of concrete that is poured over the mesh. The thickness of the concrete slab will depend on the weight of the building, the type of soil, and the load-bearing capacity of the soil.

Once the concrete has cured, the building can be constructed on top of the raft foundation. The foundation will provide a stable base for the structure and reduce the risk of settling or other structural problems.

One advantage of a raft foundation is that it is more cost-effective than other types of foundations, such as a pile foundation or a deep foundation. It also provides a level base that can support heavy loads, and it can be used in a variety of soil conditions.

However, there are also some disadvantages to a raft foundation. It requires a large amount of concrete, which can be expensive and may increase the overall weight of the building.

Additionally, if the soil conditions are poor, the foundation may not be stable and may require additional support, which can increase the cost of construction.

In conclusion, a raft foundation is a solid reinforced concrete slab that provides a stable base for buildings with a large footprint or requiring uniform support. It is an effective and cost

Read More: 25+ Types of Pile Foundations & Their Application

What Is Raft Foundation?

A Raft or Mat Foundation firstly is a continuous slab of soil that extends over the whole footprint of the building to be constructed by supporting the building and transferring its weight to the ground.

When determining which foundation is the most economical (foundation), the engineer must consider superstructure load, subsoil conditions, as well as desirable tolerable settlement.

Raft Foundation Image
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Raft Foundation Detail

  • As the definition of Raft or mat Foundation suggests, the footing is spread over a wider area taking load from a number of columns and in turn, transferring the load evenly over the entire span of footing
  • Structure obtains high stability through this type of load transformation.
  • The same is the reason for the even settlement of the soil hence ultimately the reason for the non-uneven settlement of the structure.
  • In mat foundation, the wider area of footing is in the proximity of the soil as compared to other types of footing hence transferring the load over a larger area hence less stress is developed.
  • Raft or mat foundation is suitable for weak soils hence if lesser stress is developed in the soil chances of shear failure decrease making soil suitable for bearing the structural load to an extent.

The Necessity Of Adopting Raft Foundation

The following are the necessities of the Raft or Mat Foundation

  1. Raft or mat foundation is beneficial for the poor quality of soils on which the foundation is to be laid.
  2. One of the necessary principles of adoption Raft or mat foundation is when the columns are closely placed and the load imposed is high by the structure.
  3. If the water level is high in some subsequent areas where construction is to be carried out raft foundation is generally suggested by engineers.
  4. If found to be constructed covers more than 60% of the total area of the construction raft foundation is the most suitable one.  
  5. In the constructions where the task of waterproofing of substructure is to be rendered, a mat foundation is adopted.
  6. The stress of the soil will be another factor where raft foundation is taken into consideration(As I reduce the stress on the soil.)
  7. After the examination, if the soil is showing signs of Shear failure under the loading raft foundation is one option.

Types of Raft Foundation

Following are the different raft foundation types,

  1. Flat Plate type Raft Foundation
  2. The plate thickened under the column
  3. Piled Raft Foundation
  4. Beam and Slab Type
  5. Cellular Raft Footing

1. Flat Plate type Raft Foundation

Flat Plate Type of Raft Foundation
Raft Foundation: Exploring Types, Mat Foundation 7

Apart from all the types of Raft or mat Foundations, this is the simplest of all. Once the load distributed by the column is almost equal Flat Plate type Raft Foundation is preferred. Similarly when the columns are well equally placed this type of raft foundation is used.

In the Flat Plate type Raft Foundation, bending movement is in both directions. In it, both side mesh reinforcement is provided, adding to it the more reinforcement at joints is provided for stability purposes.

It provides a thickness of about 300 mm to the slab hence used when the loads are relatively small.  This factor provides the economical status of this Raft type.

Since reinforcement is provided in both directions foundation can provide resistance to moments in the respective directions.

2. Plate Thickened Under The Column

In cases of columns imposing more loads on the slab underneath, Plate Thickened under the Column Raft Foundation is used. To counter the problem of high load slab under the column is thickened in order to bear the load and ultimately provide safety.

In order to do so more reinforcement is provided in the thickened slab to bear the extra load and in turn, transfer the load to the soil in proportion. Diagonal shear imposed could be taken care of in this type hence taking negative reinforcement into account.

Read More: 8+ Foundation Construction Steps

3. Piled Raft Foundation

Pile Raft Foundation
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The main function of the foundation is to transfer a load of the structure to the soil beneath it which is capable of bearing that load.

Depending on the type of soil beneath and the massiveness of the structure shallow and deep foundation is preferred for construction.

Wherever the bearing capacity of soil is acceptable for the load imposed by the structure Shallow Foundation is taken into account.

In the case where the bearing capacity of soil is acceptable for the load imposed by the structure deep foundation is generally used for proper stability of the structure.

In their normal form, raft foundations (sometimes referred to as mat foundations) are shallow foundations formed by a reinforced concrete slab of uniform thickness (typically 150-300 mm) covering a wide area, often the entire footprint of a building.

This ‘raft’ spreads the load imposed by a number of columns or walls over the area of the foundation and can be considered to ‘float’ on the ground as a raft floats on water.

Advantages of Pile Raft Foundation

The following are the major advantages of piled raft foundation,

  • Where a conventional raft foundation does not provide adequate support, it can be enhanced by the addition of piles, creating what is known as a piled raft foundation.
  • Foundations provide support for structures, transferring their loads to layers of soil or rock that have sufficient bearing capacity and suitable disposal characteristics.
  • Very broadly, foundations can be classified as shallow foundations or deep foundations Shallow foundations are commonly used where the loads imposed by the structure are low relative to the bearing capacity of the surface soil.
  • Deep foundations are necessary where the bearing capacity of the surface soil is not sufficient to support the load exerted by a structure and therefore those loads need to be transferred to deeper layers with higher bearing capacity.
  • In its general form, raft foundations (sometimes referred to as mat foundations) are shallow foundations formed by reinforced concrete slabs of uniform thickness (typically 150–300 mm) covering an extensive area, often of a building.

4. Beam and Slab Type

When the excessive bending moment is to be resisted by column strips other types of Raft Foundation do not appear to be beneficial and economical.

In such cases, beam and slab raft is adopted which seems to be promising in resisting unwanted bending movement.

In simple language when the load imposed by columns is high and variable with the length of footing Bean and Slab type of foundation is constructed.

Appropriate in-dimension beams are provided with each and every row of the column in the longitudinal as well as in the transverse direction.

In the remaining area forming the central panels are given with slabs supported on these grid beams or walls.

In Beam and Slab type Raft functions are served the same function as in the thickened flat slab raft foundation but provide more benefit over excessive bending movement caused due to uneven loading.

5. Cellular Raft Foundation

A Cellular Raft foundation is also mentioned as Rigid Frame Mat on the property of bearing heavy loads. Beams in circular raft foundations are deeper than usual and carry heavy loads.

In a Cellular Raft or mat foundation two concrete slabs are laid upon, which lock together via ground beams.

The upward movement of the ground due to the swelling of clay soils that expand when wet could cause affect the stability of the structure leading to damage, in such cases, the Cellular Raft foundation is laid.

Cellular raft foundations are exceptionally rigid in characteristics, and so they are most suited for ground that is likely to settle in an uneven manner.

Sites, where such foundations are expected to be found, are heavy mining areas or poor soil fields where large bending moments need to be resisted due to uneven settlement and upheaval.

While being economical for such purposes it is costly in a general sense.

Read More: Which is Strongest & Best Foundation For A House (Types of Foundation for House)

Raft Foundation Construction Process

The following is the construction process of raft footing,

  • The site on which the foundation is to be laid is first surveyed and excavated to a depth up to which the foundation is to be constructed. The base of the excavation is leveled to avoid uneven settlement.
  • If after excavation soil is wet or the water table is reached then pumping is carried out to remove water and to start further excavation. The waterproofing membrane is provided at the base to avoid water entering the slab.
  • Cement-sand paste is poured to ensure the binding with soil once the concrete will be poured.
  • This process is followed by lying reinforcement which is to be completed before concreting the base so that concrete can be performed in one go.
  • After finalizing the depth of the slab concrete is poured accordingly to the required height letting it for curing in several ways.


In conclusion, raft foundation is also known as mat foundation or raft footing and is a one type of structural foundation which provides stability and even distribution of loads to the underlying soil and it is commonly used in areas with variable soil or weak soil condition, raft foundation is designed to support heavy structures and mitigate the different settlement, ensuring the overall stability of the building.

Overall, raft foundation offers a reliable solution for constructing structures on providing stability, challenging soils and minimizing the risk of differential settlement and their implementation and design require careful consideration of various factors to ensure and durable foundation system.


What is a Raft Foundation?

A Raft Foundation, also known as a Raft Footing, is a type of foundation used in construction to distribute the load of a structure over a large area. It consists of a thick concrete slab that extends over the entire footprint of the building.

What is the purpose of a Raft Foundation?

The primary purpose of a Raft Foundation is to provide stability and prevent excessive settlement of the building by distributing the load over a larger area. It is especially useful in areas with weak or variable soil conditions.

What is a Mat Foundation?

A Mat Foundation, also known as a Raft Foundation, is a type of foundation that is similar to a Raft Foundation. It is a continuous concrete slab that extends under the entire footprint of the building, providing a stable base for the structure.

Can you provide details about Raft Foundation construction?

The construction of a Raft Foundation involves the following steps:
Site preparation and excavation.
Compaction of the soil to achieve a stable base.
Installation of formwork to define the shape of the foundation.
Placement of reinforcement steel within the formwork.
Pouring and leveling of concrete to form the Raft Foundation slab.
Curing of the concrete to ensure strength and durability.
Waterproofing and insulation may be added to the foundation, depending on the building requirements.

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