A Slab-On-Grade Foundation for Cold Climates
Proper drainage (lots of gravel) is the key.
Synopsis: This article describes the construction of a slab-on-grade foundation that is capable of resisting the severe temperatures of northern climates. A thick layer of compacted gravel plus rigid-board insulation are two of the author’s secrets for this low-cost alternative to full basement walls.
The handbooks and structural engineers all say you can’t build a slab foundation in frost country and expect it to say put. But about 15 years ago it occurred to me that interstate highways are nothing more than large concrete slabs poured on the ground. They don’t have frost walls, yet they don’t heave apart. And what about railroad tracks? Why aren’t they twisted like spaghetti come spring? Why couldn’t the principles of roadbed construction be applied to cold-country slab foundations?
Slab-on-grade foundations are an economical alternative to a full, poured-concrete basement. They require minimal excavation and site disturbance, are quickly…