What is a foundation?

A foundation is the lowest part of any structure. The job of the foundation is to transfer the weight of the building to the soil. This means that the foundation is in contact with the ground that the building itself rests on.


Deep foundation

A deep foundation is defined as being more than 1.5 meters deep. It is typically used with large, tall buildings. Deep foundations are also used on buildings with weaker soil below. 


Types of deep foundations

  1. Basements
  2. Buoyancy Rafts
  3. Caissons
  4. Cylinders
  5. Shaft Foundations
  6. Pile foundations

Read more about the different types of foundations, and in much more depth, here


Shallow Foundations

Shallow foundations are defined as having less than 1.5 meters of depth below ground. They are usually used on bigger, wider buildings that are not nearly as tall as they are long/wide.

  1. Strip footing
  2. Spread or isolated footing
  3. Combined footing strap or cantilever footing
  4. Mat or raft foundation.

Again, the Constructor.org provides more in-depth descriptions of shallow foundations.

To put it in the most concise terms, there are many types of foundations, however, the two main categories are deep and shallow. Shallow foundations are less than 1.5 meters in depth, while deep foundations are over 1.5 meters.


What is the purpose of foundations?

Any construction contractor should know how important a foundation is. A foundation’s benefits to the structure include the following:

  • The stronger a foundation, the more stable a structure becomes.
  • The foundations ensures that there is proper load distribution. This means the weight of the building is distributed safely, securely, and evenly to the soil below. This helps prevent building collapse and uneven settling.
  • A good foundation ensures that the supporting material (walls and building structure) do not move laterally.
  • A well-designed and reinforced foundation provides a great level surface for the upper structure. 
  • A high-quality foundation provides a solid bed upon which more construction can be performed.

The main job of the foundation though, is to distribute the load from the building evenly over the base structure of the building itself, and then safely and evenly to the soil beneath.


What is footing?

Footing, or footing foundation, is a part of the foundation. It transfers the load of the structure to a larger area of the soil. It helps lessen the foundation settlement. Settlement is the collapse of the soil/sand/earth beneath a building. Settlement is inevitable, as there will always be some collapse of the earth beneath a building. Footings are primarily used with shallow foundations. The width and depth of the footing depends on the foundation, as well as the type of soil. All footings are a part of a shallow foundation.


Types of footings

  1. Continuous wall footing
  2. Isolated footing
  3. Combined footing
  4. Strip footing 
  5. Strap footing 
  6. Raft footing 
  7. Pile footing


So how are they different exactly?

Remember, footing and foundation are part of the same thing. They are both parts of the bottom-most area in a building. Both of them have the same function as well: they distribute the load of the structure to the ground beneath. But what are the differences between the two? 



  • In contact with the ground.
  • Transfers superstructure load to ground.
  • Similar to what the feet do for the legs in the human body.
  • Reinforces support to individual parts of the structure (a single column, etc.)
  • Made from slab (concrete) and rebar (steel).
  • Supports the entire building.
  • Reinforces support to individual structural parts of buildings.
  • There are a number of footings in a foundations.
  • Footings are beneath the walls of a foundation.



  • Transfers structural loads from superstructure to ground.
  • Also in contact with the earth.
  • Supports individual columns or individual elements in the building’s structure.
  • Can be compared to both the feet and the legs of the human body.
  • Provides extensive support. Supports the entire load of a building and transfers it to numerous footings.
  • The foundation bears many different kinds of loads. Building loads, construction loads, and more.
  • Foundations make up basement and substructure walls.


Final notes:

It’s a bit confusing to keep foundations and footings in mind. There are a bunch of different kinds of each, and they perform similar, if not the same, functions. But if you read nothing else in this article, read this: a foundation is a structure which transfers load from the superstructure to the ground, and a footing is a foundation that is in contact with the earth. 

Remember, a foundation can be shallow or deep, while a footing is always shallow. A footing is always a type of foundation, but not all foundations are footings. The footing is the lowest part of the foundation.


Does your project need the right foundation?

Whether you want to start building your construction with footings, foundations, or both, Reliable Commercial Construction can help. We are an experienced group of over 200 commercial contractors who specialize in industrial and commercial building. Not job is too tough, no job is too big, and none of our work will leave you unsatisfied. We’ve been building for over 35 years. We know how to set the right foundation to ensure your building has success and longevity. Our policy of relentless cooperation will ensure you have all the information and knowledge you need during the building process. Contact us today and we can set the foundation for something amazing.