pier and beam foundation

Pier & Beam Foundation vs. Slab Foundation: Which Should You Use?

Prior to the popular use of slab foundations underneath structures, most homes were elevated in the air by pier and beam foundations (sometimes also called post and beam). These days, however, pier and beam structures aren’t used as much, but are still the standard in some parts of the country that get a lot of rain or are in flood zones.

Should you opt for a pier and beam foundation or a slab foundation for your new home? Read on to weigh the pros and cons of pier and beam foundations in relation to slab:

Pier and Beam Foundation Benefits:
  • With a pier and beam foundation your home can have a crawl space high enough to actually crawl through. Utilities, plumbing, wiring, and ventilation will be easier to access if/when issues arise with the various systems of your home.
  • You won’t have to worry about concrete floors having to be broken open in the event that there are major plumbing issues with a pier and beam structure; a plumber might need to break a slab floor in order to reach damaged pipes.
  • In general, slab structures are usually more expensive to repair than pier and beam foundations; in addition, they also generally have fewer foundational problems than slab structures.
  • As was previously stated, pier and beam structures are elevated to help protect them from moisture and flooding.
  • Thanks to the air under homes with pier and beam foundations, there’s an extra little bit of insulation under there. In addition, if you’re a person that likes the feel of a wooden platform under your feet instead of a concrete floor, you’ll enjoy a pier and beam foundation.
The Benefits of a Slab Foundation:
This is all not to say that there are no benefits to having a slab foundation – there are:
  • Slab foundations are almost always less expensive than pier and beam foundations to build. Elevating a home is just about a sure thing that it’ll be more expensive than just building on a slab.
  • With a pier and beam structure, you might notice more bouncy, creaking floors – even some sagging floors over an extended period of time – but not with slab foundations.
  • With a slab foundation, you’ll probably have fewer problems with ventilation and moisture issues in your home because there is nowhere for moisture to build up under the home.
  • On a related note, you might have fewer issues with mildew, mold, and rotting wood if you have a slab foundation.
  • You also might have more bugs and rodents in the crawl space of a pier and beam home than with a slab foundation.
If you choose a pier and beam foundation for your home, be sure that you have considered a builder carefully – poor design and faulty builds can add to any list of problems, especially if incorrect pier and beam spacing or shim failures occur.

Do keep in mind that repairing issues like these is usually cheaper and easier than with slab homes – for example, if the slab foundation of a home starts to shift and crack, it might actually be impossible to fix. However, it’s also important to remember that regardless of the foundation you choose, no structure is perfect, but most issues can be repaired if they are found early.