Types Of Foundation: The Ultimate Guide

Types of Foundation in civil construction

This is an ultimate guide to different types of foundations used in civil construction.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • What is a foundation?
  • How does foundation work?
  • Why foundation is provided?
  • Why various types of foundations are designed?


  • Different types of foundations used in civil construction.

Let’s dive right in.

What Is A Foundation?

Simply saying, a foundation is the most bottom part of a structure.

What is a foundation of a structure?

Typically, the main function of a foundation is to transfer loads imposed on it to the soil.

Besides this, a foundation does some other works:

  • Prevent lateral movement of the structure
  • Increase structural stability
  • Minimize differential settlement


Why Different Types Of Foundations Are Designed?

Mainly, which type of foundation will be provided to a structure depends on the bearing capacity of the sub-soil.

But, the following factors are also considered:

  • Type of structure
  • Structural loading
  • Economical factors
  • Time factors (relative to the proposed contract period)
  • Construction problems

With that, let’s see the…

Different Types Of Foundation

Basically, there are two types of foundation:

  • Shallow foundation, and
  • Deep foundation

Shallow Foundation

This type of foundation is often called Footing.

And it’s designed when the subsoil condition is good.

Generally, when the width of the entire foundation is greater than its depth that is considered as a shallow foundation.

What is a shallow foundation

Normally, they are embedded about a meter or so into soil.

In comparison to deep foundations, shallow foundations are:

  • Less technical
  • More economical, and
  • Widely used

Types Of Shallow Foundation

The following are the different types of shallow foundations:

  • Isolated footing
  • Combined footing
  • Strip footing
  • Mat footing
Types of shallow foundation

Deep Foundation

This type of foundation is designed when the subsoil near the surface is poor and unable to carry the structure’s loads.

With this foundation, the load is transmitted to the deeper level of the soil.

Types Of Deep Foundation

Basically, there are three types of deep foundation:

  • Pile foundation
  • Pier foundation
  • Drilled Shafts or Caissons
Ttypes of deep foundation

With this, now you’ll learn about the different types of foundation and their uses below:

Isolated Footing


  • Individual footing

What It Is?

This foundation is designed to support single columns.

Isolated footing

And it’s the most economical foundation.

When It Is Designed?

  • If the loads on footing are less.
  • If two columns aren’t nearby.
  • When the soil bearing capacity is high.

Types Of Isolated Footing

  • Pad footing
  • Sloped footing
  • Stepped footing
Types of Isolated footing

Combined Footing

What It Is?

Basically, this footing is a combination of two or more isolated footings.

When two or more columns are very near to each other then this type of footing is designed.

Comnbined footing

Combined footings can be rectangle or trapezoidal.

Shape of combined footing

When Combined Footing Is Used?

  • If two columns are near to each other and their footings overlap.
  • If the soil bearing capacity is relatively lower.
  • When one column is closed to the property line.
  • If the Dimension of one side of the footing is restricted.

Types Of Combined Footings

Following are the types of combined footings:

  • Slab type
  • Slab and beam type
  • Strap beam type

Read the details of these types of combined footings here.

Strip Footing


  • Wall footing
  • Spread footing
  • Continuous footing

What It Is?

This footing runs along the direction of the wall.

Generally, the width of this footing is 2-3 times the width of the wall.

And, stone, or bricks, or reinforced concrete is normally used to construct this type of footing.

To know more about this footing visit: All About Strip Footing

Mat Footing


  • Raft footing

What It Is?

This shallow foundation is spread across the entire area of the structure.

Mat Footing

It carries the entire load of the superstructure and spreads it over the whole area.

When It Is Used?

This foundation is used:

  • When the loads are very high
  • To prevent differential settlement of individual footing.
  • If the soil bearing capacity is less.

But Mat foundation shouldn’t be used where the groundwater table is above the bearing surface of the soil.

Types Of Mat Foundation

  • Flat plate mat
  • Plate thickened under columns.
  • Two-way slab and beam
  • Piled mat
  • Rigid frame mat

To learn more about this type of footing, read my comprehensive guide on mat foundation that I’ve published recently.

Pile Foundation

This is a type of deep foundation.

And, it is designed to transfer loads to the deeper level of the soil.

Pile foundation

When This Foundation Is Used?

  • If the bearing capacity of soil near the surface is relatively low and isn’t suitable for heavy loads.
  • When the hard rock strata is at least 15 feet below the ground surface.
  • When it is very expensive to provide raft or grillage foundation.
  • If there are chances of construction of irrigation canal in the nearby area.
  • When the foundation is subjected to a heavy concentrated load.
  • In marshy places.

Types Of Pile Foundation

Based on materials:

  • Concrete piles
  • Timber piles
  • Steel piles
  • Composite piles
  • Sand piles

Based on function or use:

  • Sheet piles
  • End bearing piles
  • Friction piles
  • Tension piles
  • Batter piles
  • Fender piles
  • Compaction piles

Based on Installation Methods:

  • Driven and Cast-in-situ piles
  • Bored and Cast-in-situ piles
  • Screw piles

Read More: Pile Foundation: Everything You Need To Know As A Construction Professional

Pier Foundation

This type of foundation is like the pile foundation.

But, unlike piles, it can only transfer loads by bearing, not by skin friction.

And it is a cylindrical structural member.

Pier foundation

When Pier Foundation Is Designed?

  • If sound rock strata is under a decomposed rock layer at the top.
  • When the topsoil is stiff clay which resists driving the bearing pile.

Types Of Pier Foundation

It may be two types:

  • Masonry/concrete pier
  • Drilled caisson

Caisson Foundation


  • Drilled shafts

What It Is?

This type of deep foundation is constructed above ground level.

And then sunk into the ground to the desired depth.

And then filled with concrete.

When This Foundation Is Designed?

Generally, it is designed for structures that require foundations beneath a river or similar water bodies.

Types Of Caisson Foundation

  • Box Caissons
  • Floating Caissons
  • Pneumatic Caissons
  • Open Caissons
  • Sheeted Caissons
  • Excavated Caissons

If you don’t understand the difference between the different types of deep foundations, read this:

Difference Between Piles, Piers, and Caissons.

Now It’s Your Turn:

So, these are the different types of foundations.

And I hope this post helped you to understand different foundation types.

In my 20 years in the construction field, I didn’t have the luck to construct all of these foundations.

Such as I didn’t work in pier foundation and caisson foundation.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

Have you worked with all of these types of foundations?

Maybe you haven’t worked with some footing types?

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

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