Wood Vs. Concrete Basement: The Pros And Cons Of These Foundations

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Choosing the right basement foundation is critical for the overall support of your home. With different materials available, wood and concrete are the most common. If you wonder which of the two you should select, read from our research on what experts have to say.

Both wood and concrete are suitable for basement foundations. But your choice should primarily depend on size, costs, and weather constraints. For most properties, concrete is better because it is reliably strong and more resistant to water, although it doesn't mean that wood is bad. Wood can create a warm basement for the winter. However, it is more prone to moisture damage and rotting than poured or block concrete.

Even if the material you choose has a greater advantage over the other, you should align your choice with the basement you need. You should consider the proper construction process to use the materials for a sturdy basement foundation. Keep reading to learn the pros and cons of wood and concrete basement foundations.

Comparison between wood and concrete basement, Wood Vs. Concrete Basement: The Pros And Cons Of These Foundations

Which Is Better: Wood Or Concrete Basement Foundation?

Your basement foundation is crucial for strong support for the entire home. Without a well-built foundation, your home can be vulnerable to structural damages. Selecting the best foundation will also help increase the home value. It will help if you learn about these two common foundation materials.

Wood

The type of wood used in basement foundations is not the typical and flimsy wood you can find from a lumber supplier. For basements, a permanent wood foundation (PWF) treated with special chemicals can be ideal for a basement.

The base of this foundation is a concrete slab over gravel. The treated wood undergoes some pressure and contains chromate copper arsenate (CCA). This chemical resists molds, fungus, rots, ants, and termites.

You will need to waterproof the foundation even after chemical treatment. Waterproofing is vital because basements always have moisture issues. After some time, the wood will rot, and you need more maintenance to keep the foundation's condition.

If you want to get the benefits of this wood foundation, you should also check the construction site. The PWF is unsuitable for areas with a high water table or soil that doesn't drain well. It will not be a good choice if your property is in a flood zone.

Here are some pros and cons of choosing wood for the foundation:

Pros Cons
Better thermal insulation
(warmer basement)
Rotting, warping, or buckling
damages
Easy to install Repairs will cost more than
the initial cost
Helps conserve energy and
use sustainable materials
Termites are a threat
(unless wood was expertly
treated)
Less prone to cracking
due to its elasticity
More vulnerable to moisture
and water intrusions
Affordability Needs more maintenance
in the long-run

Concrete

Concrete basement walls ready for next phase of construction on new residential home

For most modern home construction, concrete is a popular choice. Concrete is a blend of cement, sand, or rock aggregates with water. This mixture forms into a hard, rock-like mass.

The process involves pouring the concrete mixture on vital points like the foundation columns and footers. By doing so, you get great support for the house.

We have listed below some pros and cons of concrete foundations:

Pros Cons
Cost-effective Complex process
Low maintenance costs Labor-intensive
Resilient against rots, fire, water,
and vibrations
Tensile strength is low
Highly durable in
any environment
Weight is heavy
Does not emit gas, toxic, and
volatile compounds
Can contain salts that cause
efflorescence
Can mix concrete on-site
or pre-engineered
Less pliable
Withstands high
temperatures
Takes around 28 days to
get its full strength
High compression
that takes huge weights
Savings on
insurance costs

Most contractors choose concrete over wood because it has more advantages. There are no threats of termites and other wood-eating insects. You also get more protection against rots, fire, and water intrusions. Even if it takes longer before concrete cures, the waiting is worth it.

After you learn about the pros and cons of each foundation, the real winner is the one that will best serve your needs. It is the best option to hire a structural engineer to determine which foundation to use for your property.

How Long Do Wood Foundations Last?

Wooden foundations will not last longer than concrete. Many will ignore wood because it is prone to rotting and deterioration. Yet, there is much more to appreciate with wood foundations.

Most pressure-treated wood will last around 25 to 30 years. For some permanent wood foundation brands, the warranty covers decays and insect damage for 75 years. You should also have the right drainage system installed to maintain the foundation.

To get the benefits of wood for longer, always follow the correct preparation and installation process. You must seek professional help to make wood a suitable basement foundation.

Are Concrete Basement Foundations Worth It?

Concrete is popular for foundations, but you might wonder if it is worth constructing one. You need to look at the costs of building the foundations and your benefits.

With concrete, you will have fewer issues than wooden foundations. Moisture and water are still a threat, but the severity of damage to the foundation is lower than wood. You also get strong and reliable support for your house. It has good resistance to earthquakes, hurricanes, and insects.

A concrete foundation can last up to 150 years, especially if you choose high-quality and long-lasting materials. Do not disregard the best practices when finishing a basement, like waterproofing and insulation. Your basement continues to be a livable space for longer with proper maintenance.

How Much Does Wood And Concrete Foundations Cost?

Wooden frameworks inside an unfinished basement of a house

Basement foundation costs will vary for wood and concrete foundations. The differences in your costs also depend on the size of the basement you want to have.

Wood foundations will cost more than concrete. If you choose permanent treated wood, you can spend about $5,811 to $17,327 for pre-assembled foundation walls. The expert process of treating the wood makes this option a premium. As to the installation costs, it is only minimal compared to concrete.

For concrete basement foundations, it costs around $4,609 to $32,488. The amount to spend will depend on the size of your basement in square feet. You also have to consider the costs of the following:

  • Soil excavation
  • Soil quality testing
  • Removal of trees
  • Building permits and inspections
  • Form and finish
  • Reinforcements
  • Sealing

Unlike regular levels of your home, the basement will cost more because of more complex procedures. After all, creating the basement foundation is not a DIY project. You should prepare for the costs of hiring professionals to ensure the structural integrity of your home.

Which Has More Resale Value Between Wood Or Concrete Foundation?

Although below ground level, a basement will add function and value to your house. Home appraisals can assess the condition of a well-built and habitable basement. If you have plans to sell your property in the future, it will help if you know what foundation will add more value.

For both foundation types, it will help to have your basement finished. You can gain back about 70% of your costs for basement finishing and related improvements. Some features of a valuable basement finish include:

  • Both interior and exterior insulation
  • Painted drywall and trims
  • Waterproofed flooring
  • Basement bathroom
  • Main living area
  • Basement bar or similar entertainment area

If your basement foundations have issues, the resale value will be lower. You will need to do some repairs to keep your space conducive for family activities. Problems with moisture, gases like radon, flooding, and low ceiling space can break deals. Take action to repair the damages before selling the property.

Other factors appraisers consider when valuing your home involve the following:

  • Real estate market condition
  • Materials used for the basement finishing
  • Potential use of the space

You can ask for advice from a real estate agent about adding value to your basement for the chosen foundation type.

In Closing

Both wood and concrete basement foundations have their pros and cons. For most homes, concrete is more popular because of its numerous practical benefits. Wood is also okay, but it will not last long like concrete.

The costs will vary for each type and will depend on the size of the basement. If you plan to sell your property, its value will increase if you finish the basement.

Remember to follow the proper construction processes when building the basement foundations. After all, you should choose a basement foundation that keeps your house stable at all times.

Learn more about basements from these posts:

Should I Pour Concrete In My Crawl Space?

What Is The Difference Between Foundation And Basement

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