Types of Metal Building Foundations and Which One You Should Prefer

Types of Metal Building Foundations and Which One You Should Prefer

Types of Metal Building Foundations and Which One You Should Prefer
Oct, 2022

Do you know how foundation plays a crucial role in the stability and integrity of structure? Most time, people focus on the strength of structure raised above ground, not on value of foundation.

Before starting a quest for a prefab metal structure, you must know the types of metal building foundations and which one suits you. Following information will help you understand requirements of a particular foundation type for structure you are planning.

Steel Building Foundation Types

Thoroughly selecting a base depends on various factors, including weather conditions, soil type, geological conditions, structure weight, and many others. Possessing some basic information about foundation types for a metal building will help you make a wise selection. Here are some most common foundations generally used for metal buildings in the United States.

Slab Foundation

Slab foundation is most common building foundation used for prefab steel structures. Before going through the pros and cons of it, you must know more details about this foundation type.

Generally, slab foundation used for prefab steel structures is 4 to 6 inches thick in the center. These concrete slabs are placed over a sand base for an effective drainage system and provide proper cushioning to prevent damage. Sand bed also supports the foundation slab by absorbing impulsive force during abnormal conditions.

Most of the time, these foundation types are used for lands that lack proper crawling space and have low availability of space under the floor. Because of this reason, it is the most popular type of foundation used for steel structures. Another reason for using a slab foundation is to attain a base for facility and provide metal framing.


  • Slab foundation is suitable for structural strength. For quick installation process, slab foundations are the best.
  • It is also durable and long-lasting.


  • In this foundation type, drainage line has to be installed in a concrete slab that can’t be modified later.
  • Slab-type foundations are vulnerable to damage caused by ice.

Piers Foundation

Pier foundation types are used for bulky structures that need more support and stability. In this foundation type, large-diameter cylindrical concrete columns are used to support superstructures. These multi-cylindrical beams are used to equally divide superimposed load on foundation and provide a firm base to a metal structure.

Pier foundation is of shallow type, and it is used for land with surface of decomposed rocks and stiff clay. Most of the time, this type of foundation is used for gravel floors with concrete beams. It is the most effective foundation for structures that are not entirely enclosed. In steel structures, each pier supports a steel rail that supports vertical legs of the structure.


  • You can create a stable foundation with less material in a few easy steps.
  • Pier foundations offer higher flexibility in designing a structure that is versatile in design and size.


  • Pier foundation offer pointed support to the structure, and if the load is not equally distributed on base rail, you might observe a sag in horizontally placed metal beams.
  • Pier foundation type is not considered adequate for enclosed structures and structures installed at locations with extreme weather conditions.
  • Soil erosion caused by water and wind can affect the strength of the structure.

Perimeter Walls

Perimeter foundation is also one of the most common types used for metal buildings. This metal building foundation type is placed beneath the outer or exterior wall of the entire structure. This foundation is also known as perimeter footing.

Perimeter foundation offers the best support to the structure’s exterior walls and primary frame. In some cases, slab and perimeter foundations provide better support to metal structures raised over ground. With this composition, you can attain maximum stability.


  • Perimeter foundation is cost-effective compared to slab type foundation.
  • Compared to the pier foundation type, a perimeter foundation can offer better stability to the steel structure.
  • Repair and maintenance for steel structures are much easier with this foundation type.


  • Perimeter foundations are not that effective for areas prone to frequent floods. It can expose the bottom of the foundation and cause displacement of the entire steel structure.

Which Foundation Is Good For You

No foundation type can fulfill all your requirements. Effectiveness of a foundation type depends explicitly on the environment and ground conditions. Selection of footing type also depends on the structure you are planning for your property.

For example, for standard conditions, pier footings are considered adequate for single car carport structures and other structures that are not entirely enclosed. Perimeter foundations are used for horse barn structures and cattle sheds. For residential and commercial facilities, slab foundation types are the most effective.

For an effective selection of foundation type, you must consider other factors like soil condition, water drainage system, and geological condition.


After knowing about the types of foundations used for metal building, if you want to know more about prefab steel structures or book one for your property, we are here at Viking Steel Structures to support you throughout the entire process. For more consultation, you can call us at 877-801-3263.