July 26, 2021
A Comparison of pros and cons of Concrete Piers vs. Steel Piers vs. Helical Piers
Installing support piers beneath a home’s foundation can be one of the most effective ways to correct foundation failures and prevent future displacement. You must, however, be careful that the right type of piers are being used for your particular problem to ensure the best possible results and secure optimal longevity.
There are three common types of piers that are used in foundation repairs: concrete, steel and helical. Let’s take a look at what set of circumstances each is best suited for so that you can plan your project accordingly.
Due to affordability and versatility, pressed concrete piers are a common choice for foundation repairs. They don’t require soil to be particularly deep for installation, so they are often a good choice for foundations on relatively shallow lots. However, their vulnerability to moisture swelling can make them an inferior option for building sites that experience a lot of water pooling and runoff from higher terrain.
Concrete piers are typically used in pier-and-beam foundations. This type of foundation is easily identifiable by the presence of a crawl space beneath your building. The concrete piers in these foundations can start to deteriorate after years of exposure to cycles of soil saturation and drying. Failing concrete piers can no longer adequately support the wood beams they hold up, which causes sloping and depressions to form in your flooring. Such instances call for replacement of the old piers with new concrete.
At Douglas Foundation Repairs, we’ve developed the Douglas Smart Pier System® to serve as a superior alternative to traditional competitors. Our pressed concrete piers are installed in a way that eliminates the major stress points found in typical concrete piers, creating support that can endure much more pressure. The risk of pier cap tilt and slippage is dramatically reduced so that you can rest assured your foundation will remain stable for many years to come.
Also known as “screw piers”, helical piers are something of a hybrid form between their concrete and steel counterparts. Heavy-duty steel beams with helix ends are drilled into the ground. The surrounding space in the shaft is then filled with concrete for extra stability.
We often recommend helical piers for property owners who want a quick, easy foundation repair that will put minimal strain on the existing building. Whereas traditional concrete and steel piers brace against the weight of your building during installation, helical piers are drilled into the ground with hydraulic equipment. No pressure is put on the structure of the building, reducing risk of damage during the repair. The drilling process takes about 10 minutes per pier on average, making it the fastest type of installation available.
Helical piers only need to be driven deep enough to hit below the frostline, so they are suitable for circumstances in which bedrock cannot be easily reached, but soil stability is low and costs must be contained. They are a multi-purpose solution just as fit for commercial sites as they are for residences.
Steel piers are extremely strong foundation supports that are typically used when the soil beneath a building is quite unstable. They can be installed deep into the ground and must be driven far enough down to reach load-bearing bedrock. Such an installation method makes them resistant to any movement of the soil around them. In fact, steel piers can actually improve soil stability by providing a bit of structure to what was formerly shifting ground.
These qualities make steel piers the go-to selection for foundation repairs on shaky soil, or for buildings that need more support than normal. They are suitable choices for large facilities such as commercial, industrial, or multi-family structures.
Our steel pier systems are also innovated to surpass the performance of traditional installations. Like our proprietary concrete piers, our steel piers use a concentric structure that keeps stress to a minimum. This makes Douglas steel piers an even more attractive option for foundations needing maximum fortitude.
Our crew has helped countless Austin property owners successfully repair their foundations with top quality pier system installations. Whether your repair calls for concrete, steel, or helical piers, our experts will be able to assess your foundation and prescribe the best course of action.
If you’re located in Central Texas, we invite you to get in touch. Our team here at Douglas Foundation Repair has the expertise you need to correctly diagnose and resolve even the most dire of foundation troubles. With quick, skilled service, we’ll keep the process simple for you as we do all the work to get your building back on its feet.
Which Pier Type is Best for Your Foundation?