Foundations are classified as shallow and deep foundations. Types of foundations under shallow and deep foundations for building construction and their uses are discussed.

It is advisable to know the suitability of each type of foundation before their selection in any construction project.

Contents:

**Types of Foundation and their Uses**

Following are different types of foundations used in construction:

**Shallow foundation**- Individual footing or isolated footing
- Combined footing
- Strip foundation
- Raft or mat foundation

**Deep Foundation**- Pile foundation
- Drilled Shafts or caissons

**Types of Shallow Foundations**

**1. Individual Footing or Isolated Footing**

Individual footing or an isolated footing is the most common type of foundation used for building construction. This foundation is constructed for a single column and also called a pad foundation.

The shape of individual footing is square or rectangle and is used when loads from the structure is carried by the columns. Size is calculated based on the load on the column and the safe bearing capacity of soil.

Rectangular isolated footing is selected when the foundation experiences moments due to the eccentricity of loads or due to horizontal forces.

For example, Consider a column with a vertical load of 200 kN and a safe bearing capacity of 100 kN/m^{2} then the area of the footing required will be 200/100 = 2m^{2}. So, for a square footing, the length and width of the footing will be 1.414 m x 1.414 m.

**2. Combined Footing**

Combined footing is constructed when two or more columns are close enough and their isolated footings overlap each other. It is a combination of isolated footings, but their structural design differs.

The shape of this footing is a rectangle and is used when loads from the structure is carried by the columns.

**3. Spread footings or Strip footings and Wall footings**

Spread footings are those whose base is wider than a typical load-bearing wall foundations. The wider base of this footing type spreads the weight from the building structure over more area and provides better stability.

Spread footings and wall footings are used for individual columns, walls and bridge piers where the bearing soil layer is within 3m (10 feet) from the ground surface. Soil bearing capacity must be sufficient to support the weight of the structure over the base area of the structure.

These should not be used on soils where there is any possibility of a ground flow of water above bearing layer of soil which may result in scour or liquefaction.

**4. Raft or Mat Foundations**

Raft or mat foundations are the types of foundation which are spread across the entire area of the building to support heavy structural loads from columns and walls.

The use of mat foundation is for columns and walls foundations where the loads from the structure on columns and walls are very high. This is used to prevent differential settlement of individual footings, thus designed as a single mat (or combined footing) of all the load-bearing elements of the structure.

It is suitable for expansive soils whose bearing capacity is less for the suitability of spread footings and wall footings. Raft foundation is economical when one-half area of the structure is covered with individual footings and wall footings are provided.

These foundations should not be used where the groundwater table is above the bearing surface of the soil. The use of foundation in such conditions may lead to scour and liquefaction.

**Types of Deep Foundation**

**5. Pile Foundations**

Pile foundation is a type of deep foundation which is used to transfer heavy loads from the structure to a hard rock strata much deep below the ground level.

Pile foundations are used to transfer heavy loads of structures through columns to hard soil strata which is much below ground level where shallow foundations such as spread footings and mat footings cannot be used. This is also used to prevent uplift of the structure due to lateral loads such as earthquake and wind forces.

**Read More on Deep Foundations**

Pile foundations are generally used for soils where soil conditions near the ground surface is not suitable for heavy loads. The depth of hard rock strata may be 5m to 50m (15 feet to 150 feet) deep from the ground surface.

Pile foundation resists the loads from the structure by skin friction and by end bearing. The use of pile foundations also prevents differential settlement of foundations.

**Read More on Pile Foundation**

**6. Drilled Shafts or Caisson Foundation**

Drilled shafts, also called as caissons, is a type of deep foundation and has an action similar to pile foundations discussed above, but are high capacity cast-in-situ foundations. It resists loads from structure through shaft resistance, toe resistance and/or combination of both of these. The construction of drilled shafts or caissons are done using an auger.

Drilled shafts can transfer column loads larger than pile foundations. It is used where the depth of hard strata below ground level is located within 10m to 100m (25 feet to 300 feet).

Drilled shafts or caisson foundation is not suitable when deep deposits of soft clays and loose, water-bearing granular soils exist. It is also not suitable for soils where caving formations are difficult to stabilize, soils made up of boulders, artesian aquifer exists.

### Summary:

**What are broad classifications of foundation?**

Building foundations are broadly classified as shallow and deep foundations.

**What are Types of Shallow Foundation?**

Types of shallow foundations are individual footing or isolated footing, combined footing, strip foundation, raft or mat foundation.

**What are Types of Deep Foundation?**

Types of deep foundations are pile foundation and drilled shafts or caissons.

**What are difference between pile foundation and drilled shafts?**

Drilled shafts has an action similar to pile foundations but are high capacity cast-in-situ foundations. It can transfer column loads larger than pile foundations. It is used where the depth of hard strata below ground level is located within 10m to 100m (25 feet to 300 feet).

**What are difference between isolated and combined footing?**

Combined footing is constructed when two or more columns are close enough and their isolated footings overlap each other. It is a combination of isolated footings, but their structural design differs.

**When is Raft or Mat Foundations used?**

The use of raft or mat foundation is for columns and walls foundations where the loads from the structure on columns and walls are very high. Rafts are used to prevent differential settlement of individual footings, thus designed as combined footing of all the load-bearing elements of the structure.

**Read More: Soil Investigation and Types of Foundations Based on Soil Properties**