5 Different Soil Types – Know Your Soil Type

Every building, house, and structure has a foundation. For a foundation to last, it should be constructed correctly, safely, and efficiently. The process of construction and the materials used to construct a building are of equal importance. Every structure also needs a solid foundation.

However, many people are unaware of the importance of selecting the right soil to support the building. Since different types of soil have different properties, they affect building foundations differently. If the soil has more compacted gravel/sand and rock content, it will be more stable.

In the building process, the selection of sites for the structure is a critical engineering decision. Both in the countryside and the city, the most suitable plots have the best soil for construction. The soil is connected to your home, regardless of whether you live in an apartment, condo, or house. The malls you shop in, the building where your office is, the school where your kid’s study are all constructed on the soil. Your building foundation will be stable if it is built on strong soils.

Different soils differ in their strength. While some types of soils can support a skyscraper, other types might not be able to bear the weight of a human. The foundation of the building can sink or crack if built on the wrong soil. Your building could even collapse if the soil under its foundation is unstable. Some of the soil types are:

Peat: This soil type is usually black or dark brown. Since it can hold a lot of water, it can be easily compressed. However, peat becomes very dry during the summer and could lead to a fire hazard. It is a poor subsoil as it cannot offer much support. For its stability, foundations need to be built on soils that do not change structure or shift.

Clay : Since it is made up of only tiny particles, clay stores water well and has a tight grasp over it. Because of this, it shrinks when dry and expands significantly when moist. Clay is very pliable when moist and can easily be manipulated and moved. As clay’s structure can change a lot, it puts a great deal of stress on foundations. Building foundations can crack due to moving up and down. Thus, clay is not ideal for stability and support.

Silt: The smaller particles of silt retain moisture for long durations. Due to this tendency of retaining water, it drains poorly and remains cold. When silty soil expands, it pushes against the foundation and weakens it. Silt cannot provide support to foundations.

Gravel/Sand: Gravel/Sand has the largest particles when compared to other soil types. It feels gritty and dry, and because of its large openings, it cannot hold water. It also drains quite easily. It holds together reasonably well when moist and compacted. In its compact form, it offers good support to foundations as they have non-water-retaining properties. However, when particles get washed away after losing their friction due to moisture, gaps can be formed.

Loam: Loam is a combination of clay, silt, and sand, making it an ideal soil type. Its color is dark and is crumbly, dry, and soft to the touch. It can maintain moisture at a balanced rate. Because of its evenly balanced properties, loam can provide great support to foundations. If there are no miscellaneous soils on its surface, loam can provide stability to building foundations.

Rock: Hard chalk, bedrock, shale, sandstone, and limestone are very strong. Their depth, high bearing capacities, and stability provide the foundation with great support. You will have to level the rock to ensure that the foundation is well supported.

What Is A Good Soil For Building?

Good soil can capture precipitation to prevent damages to structures caused by erosion and runoff. Building material does not corrode on good soils.

However, not all building sites have good soil. Good engineering designs need to incorporate management practices and corrective measures. If water needs to be directed away from the building site, land surfaces might have to be reshaped, or drainage would have to be added. To avoid any problems in the future, you need to know the properties of the soil.

If you do not take the soil properties into account before the construction, your building might suffer from a structural failure. One of the best examples of this is the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.