Pier and Curtain Foundation

Pier and curtain foundation questions and answers

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Pier and Curtain Foundation

Pier and Curtain Foundation questions

Hi tony, great site. I have a question about a pier and curtain foundation. I am having a house built and the builder wants to use a pier and curtain foundation. it is a 1550 sq ft one story house. my question is, does the pier and curtain foundation have the same structural integrity as a full block foundation. the block foundation seem stronger because all the floor joist rest on a sill plate that rests on the block wall where as the pier foundation the joist can be just on the sill?
should i go with the pier or the full block wall in your opinion?
thank you very much.

Pier and Curtain Foundation answer

In my opinion the primary reason the builder wants to go with a pier and curtain foundation is to keep expenses down.  The pier and curtain foundation is a bit quicker to install and requires a bit less material.  I don’t feel that the structural integrity of the home would be compromised by using a pier and curtain foundation.  While a solid foundation obviously provides continuous support around the perimeter of the home there is still a girder along the center of the home that is supported on piers.  The sill or girders used in pier and curtain foundation are just as capable of carrying the load of the home as the central girder.

Other Considerations

Another consideration however, is moisture under the home.  I only have my own observations to rely on, but having worked under many home with both continuous and pier and curtain foundations, it appears to me that the curtain portion of pier and curtain foundations have a greater tendency to “sweat” than does the thicker continuous foundation.  The thinner sections of the foundation allow temperature variations between the crawl space and exterior sides of the foundation wall to create a dew point whereby moisture may be condensed out of the air on the interior surface of the brick curtain which may create an overly damp environment along the perimeter of the home.

Excess moisture in the crawl space is also a common problem in homes with continuous foundations although usually for different reasons.   Controlling the moisture content of the crawl space by installing a proper vapor barrier, ensuring there are no drainage problems on the exterior and maintaining proper crawl space ventilation should prevent excessive moisture from becoming a problem in either type foundation.

I hope I was of some help in this matter.


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About Tony Wood

Tony is a life time resident of North Carolina with over 40 years experience in multiple facets of the industrial, commercial and residential construction industry. For the past 33 years he has owned and operated Wood's Home Maintenance Service, providing services primarily in Johnston, Wake and Sampson Counties of North Carolina. ______________ ______________________________________________________ The information contained in this Blog is opinion derived, from hands on experience of over 40 years in the construction industry and by extensive research by the author. All postulations are referenced to the geographic location in which this experience was gained.
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