A Brief History of Concrete Foundations

Concrete slab foundations are among the most popular type of foundations for residential construction in the United States, and have been for decades. Here’s a quick overview of concrete foundations, how they’ve evolved over the years and why they remain such a popular option for people when working with professional home foundation contractors in Tennessee.

Concrete foundations have been popular for decades

Concrete slabs first really started to see a big surge in popularity right after World War II. At the time, there was a massive building boom, as soldiers were coming home from the war, getting married and starting families. It became necessary for builders to complete houses quickly so they could keep up with the sudden housing demand that existed across the nation.

What builders soon realized was that as far as foundational work goes, it’s far easier, cheaper and faster to pour concrete slab foundations than to completely frame out a floor with beams, posts, sheathing and joists. Thus, the concrete slab foundation took off and became a fixture of residential home construction.

In the beginning, there were some slabs that were poured inside low masonry perimeter walls known as “stem walls” that existed to support the building’s wooden frames. Other slabs were made with a thicker perimeter that served as a footing for the construction, which cut out the need for the stem walls entirely. That latter type of slab was referred to as a “monolithic slab,” because it was made with one continuous pour, rather than having to be poured and completed in multiple stages.

Both of these methods of creating foundation slabs are still used today, though some of the specific steps have changed a bit. For example, in the early days, slabs were generally four inches thick or less, and there wasn’t any reinforcement used. However, builders soon enough discovered that slabs were likely to crack, buckle and shift as the ground under and around the home shifted, meaning proper reinforcement was going to be necessary to prevent these issues and any necessary expensive repairs.

Building codes today pay much more attention to the requirements for concrete slabs and their necessary levels of reinforcement for safety and durability. Rebar (a type of steel reinforcing bar) is frequently used along with steel mesh or welded wire mesh. But even when there is proper reinforcement, slabs can shift or sustain damage, especially if there are expansive clay-rich soils found in the area of construction. These soils can create a lot of pressure on concrete foundations and result in some displacement that moves the slabs and the foundational walls. If the soil under the slab settles to such a degree that there is no longer any support to a section of slab, that slab can settle and crack.

Get more information about concrete foundations

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of concrete slabs and how the construction industry has evolved over the years to create more reliable foundations, we encourage you to contact an excavation and foundation contractor in Tennessee at Warrior Precast LLC.

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