Soil Types

Building construction requires a correctly established and sturdy foundation. soil nature over which your building rests is of paramount importance to the stability and life of your building. Each type of soil has distinctly different properties, all of which can impact the construction process in general and the performance of a structure in its totality.

We, therefore, examine the common types of soils that are majorly used in construction, the need to consider soil type in buildings, and what normally happens when this important parameter is overlooked.

Soil Types

 Common Soil Types for Construction


1. Clay


Clay is a type of soil consisting of very fine particles that absorb very easily and stick together most when wet.


Clay with its impervious nature can be employed in the making of barriers and waterproofing in the construction industry. The only catch is that, as it changes its moisture content, it can predominantly expand and contract, hence it becomes a challenge for the foundations of a construction project.


If clayey soils are to be considered, then both drainage and stabilization must be possible in order to preclude movement of the foundation and cracking.


2. Sand and Gravel

 Features : 

Sand and gravel soils are composed of larger particles with good drainage capabilities. Low holding capacity for water; therefore, is not vulnerable to moisture-related issues.


Compacted soils make great soil material when one needs to lay a foundation and compact soil for better load-bearing characteristics.


The application cannot overemphasize the use of sand, gravel, and compaction. This will help form a leveled firm and strong foundation that can bear the structure’s weight.


3. Rock


The rock or bedrock is a very stable and durable foundation. It consists of solid rock formations that carry loads very well.

Applications : 

Bedrock is recommended for high-rise buildings and heavy structures due to the stability and immunity to shift.


Excavating and building over bedrock can become really very difficult in some instances, since bedrocks tend to be hard.


4. Loam


Loam is a balanced mixture of sand, silt, and clay. It remains well-drained and moist at the same time.


Because of its versatility, loam is generally used in landscaping and agricultural purposes. Representing its properties in balance, it makes good soil to underlie a relatively poor foundation.


Loam can be very supportive of the foundation bases with proper soil compaction and stabilization.


5. Peat


Peat soil is a disintegrated, combustible organic material. Very compressible, strictly because it is composed of decomposed organic matter, has a poor bearing capacity.


Peat is often poorly suited or unable to function in construction as a foundation given that it compresses and migrates under weight for the most part.

Considerations : 

If construction cannot be avoided on peat soil, in that case, the ground will have to be heavily prepared through peat removal or stabilization.


6. Silty


Characteristics: Silty soil is moisture-retentive, being made of fine particles; though the drainage of this soil is poor, its vulnerability to erosion is much higher.



Silt is rarely used solely as a foundation, considering the fact that it is very unstable when wet. – 


Silt needs to be considered with the most efficient drainage systems and soil stabilization methods in order to prevent foundation problems.


Implication of Neglect of Soil Type in Construction


Assuming one soil type for your building construction will lead to the following major problems:


Crack on Foundation Due to Settling: 

Soil not properly prepared may eventually lead to differential settlement of the foundation, which will most probably cause cracks and then a partial or complete deterioration of the structure.


Water Damage: 

Undrained soils create areas where water is collected at the foundation. This moisture infiltration will lead to weakening of the structure. 


Erosion and Stability Issues: 

In theory, very fine soils like silt have a high erosion susceptibility to processes in which the rock particles are slowly snatched away during flow, blocking the pores within the foundation.

 Increased Maintenance Costs:

 Failure to pay attention to the soil condition will result in more repairs and maintenance costs, hence even higher costs in the long run shouldered by the owner. 


Safety Hazards: 

Poor soil considerations usually result in poor structural integrity, consequently causing a serious threat to the residents. 



Every construction project must involve an understanding of types of soil and their properties. It is therefore with this type of soil in mind that a careful builder assures his buildings have a solid, safe foundation. An oversight of this major consideration results in structural defects, ever-increasing costs, and even potential safety hazards. Proper soil analysis and preparation are the most important features for good and long-lasting construction.

By Admin

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