View Full Version : Block vs Poured Basement

01-28-2007, 10:38 PM
As I shop for homes in Columbus I find either poured concrete, cinder block construction for the basement/foundation (in some cases a mix of both). My instinct is that poured concrete is preferred...as long as it as been sealed on the interior side.

So guys, which is better?
What are the strengths/weaknesses of each?

01-28-2007, 11:26 PM
P.S. I have only found this kind of info (http://www.house-n-home-building.com/newsletters/house-building-april05.htm)on the internet. I suppose I'm looking for more opinionated info - AND I know I can get that here. :D

01-28-2007, 11:36 PM

Do you have to have basement or are you comparing basement vs slab/crawl space?

Workin' 4 Toys
01-28-2007, 11:36 PM
My first question with cider block (if I was forced to consider one) is it hollow or was it filled after it was layed. I have seen them done well, and very poorly but still hold up for along time.

IMO- I would much rather have poured concrete lined with rebar, but then there are the exceptions of a poorly done job, or a bad mixture.

You can get leaks with either.

With either one, inspect for big cracks, and evidence of leaks. These cracks can be pumped full of epoxy or other to stop leaks in most cases.

I would also suggest applying a concrete sealer inside the walls, such as a dryloc (water based because the fumes from the oil are downright unbearable)

01-28-2007, 11:55 PM

Do you have to have basement or are you comparing basement vs slab/crawl space?

Most homes have a basement whether full or partial. I have only seen a few in my price and spec range that have just a crawl space - none with a slab only...so far. I love the idea of a basement as long as a sufficient battery backup system for the sump pump(s) is in place.

Simple slab is all I know out here in the west. It sure can get complicated with all the basement variables, like ensuring what manner of steel reinforcement was used.

Workin' 4 Toys
01-29-2007, 12:05 AM
Ryan, FWIW- I have personnally had 2 battery backup systems fail for one reason or another, and I mean miserable failure.
My suggestion is a generator. Either full auto system standby, or manual plug and play.

I have thought about going to the water powered backup pump too, just haven't pulled the trigger on it yet.

01-29-2007, 07:09 AM
I've only seen poured basements here in Indy. I have to believe block is a much weaker and more porous basement.

For the sump pump there is a pump that connects to the city water and uses water power to pump out the water. The battery back up pumps are pretty worthless.

Workin' 4 Toys
01-29-2007, 07:53 AM
Leroy, we have talked about those water powered pumps here before, did you ever put one in?

01-29-2007, 09:21 AM
I have owned houses with both and I would definitely recommend the poured walls. In fact I never see cinder block walls in basement construction anymore, they are for crawls and the like, or for foundations above ground.
In local construction, poured walls are stronger and more water proof than block walls due to the fact there are no seams or joints in which water can percolate.
A black mastic waterproof material is applied to the exterior of the pour and perimeter ABS tile is put in place with a 3-4inch gravel backfill before the remaining backfill of dirt is completed. This help to divert water away from the basement and seepage through the wall itself
There is also a sump pit placed in most construction also.
I have 2 sump pumps installed in my sump pit, one for back up should the first one fail or electricity goes out, the second has a battery back up.
THe only time my basement gets wet is if I forget to keep the gutters and the downspouts cleaned out, otherwise it is as dry as a bone.
In summer months I do run a dehumidifier to keep mositure levels to a minimum.

01-29-2007, 10:19 AM
Up north here , eh, the weather is hard on the house. First home had cinder block, and I spent $11K on foundation repair. If not well reinforced, the blocks can push in, crack along the mortar, it gets bad. Current home has poured walls - when built properly should be stronger and more impervious.

Make sure the place was built by a quality builder - not a cookie cutter outfit. Check for any traces of dampness in basement or evidence of it. Ask all the questions - has there EVER been water in for any reason etc. Make sure the property has a slope away from the foundation so it drains well in heavy rains. Decent gutters with enough downspouts, preferably 4" width. If you have any concerns about the basement, hire a professional to evaluate - I got a foundation engineer on old house, verbal report, few hundred $ well spent. If you call in a contractor to tell you what's wrong , most of the time you WILL GET HOSED!

01-29-2007, 10:45 AM
Have you ever condsidered a wood foundation? I know I probably sound crazy, but I just built a house on a wood foundation. I has a warranty of 75yrs againist rot, decay, mold, mildew, and 25 years againist leaks. I was not wild about it when it was first suggested, but the more research I did and reading I did I decided to go with the wood basement. I've built a number of houses for others and all had poured basements, but with the cost of concrete and heating fuel I decided to try an alternative. They claim to be crazy effeicent. There is not an ounce of concrete in our house. Our foundation was set on a pea gravel footing. I know it sounds crazy but a 75yr warranty, I figured anything that goes wrong it will be the company's problem not mine.
When I was talking to my dad about it and expressing my concern about it leaking, decaying etc. etc. thinking concrete would be superior of a product againist leaking, he said have you ever seen a boat made out of concrete? I told him no, he went on to point out that people have been making boats out of wood for thousands of years and they continue to. Point taken.
For example on the effeicency of our house that has 2x8 basement walls uninsulated. My first house as a 1 1/2 story house with a block basement, our heating bill w/ natural gas for a 940+ sq ft house ran $170-$190/month at 68 degrees. We are all electric in our new house heating 4040 sq ft running $165-$175/month for everything at 67 degrees. I am a true believer. My basement floor is even wood. It is so much more comfortable when walking down there in your stocking feet, our feet don't get cold, easier to carpet and drywall. If someone were going to finish a poured or block basement one would put up 1/4-1/2 inch foam board (insulation) and put furring strips along the wall to attach the dry wall too. I will be able to saving all kinds of time by filling 2x8 walls full of insulation and go ahead and hang my dry wall. I'll try to post some pics later and here is the company I got our basement from. The walls are made in panels in a factory and shipped to your residence and put together like a big puzzle. They set my entire basement walls in less then 2 hours. They just hooked them up to the crane and set them in place. It was amazing!!! Website: Woodmaster Foundation System http://www.glenbrooklumber.com/Wood%20Foundations.htm . I apologize for jumping all over the place with this thread, I get excited when I talk about our foundation because it is such a good/quality product. If anyone is interested PM me and I'll give you more details and more info in a more thought out and claim process. As someone in the Concrete business once told me, "It's not a matter of IF Concrete will leak, it's a matter of WHEN!

01-29-2007, 11:27 AM
I spent two years in pest control during college in Ohio. One thing we saw was more termite infestations around block foundations as they look for cracks and can build mud tubes with the smallest opening. It also took more labor and termaticide to treat the house as you had to drill every block around the foundation as well as the poured floor every three feet. Just something to think about.

01-29-2007, 11:38 AM
Still on my to do list!

Leroy, we have talked about those water powered pumps here before, did you ever put one in?

Workin' 4 Toys
01-29-2007, 01:14 PM
In summer months I do run a dehumidifier to keep mositure levels to a minimum.
Consider putting some dryloc or similar on the walls, helps more than one would think.

01-29-2007, 01:21 PM
Around here, all wood must be at least 8" away from any dirt. I believe it's not only from a rot problem, but also termites, etc.

Workin' 4 Toys
01-29-2007, 01:27 PM
Still on my to do list!
Mine too....Right under hardwiring in my generator to the exisiting pump....
Maybe I'll wait until I need it...:rolleyes:

01-29-2007, 04:10 PM
Nothing wrong w/ a block wall foundation, theoretically. In reality, you can get away w/ more shoddy construction practices and still have a concrete wall that will hold up well compared to a block wall.
W/ that said, if you're looking at an oldr home w/ a block wall and it's in good shape, no signs of movement or water intrusion, you can be relatively assured that it will continue to be ok.

01-29-2007, 04:13 PM
I did poured walls for a summer. They are much much stronger. As long as the people putting them in are good, you should not have any problems with squareness or strength. Like all basements, still need to seal it, or at least it is a good idea. I never noticed any big cracks when doing them. We also did a couple with 10 foot basement walls, no problems what so ever, go with the poured walls.

01-29-2007, 04:44 PM
I've had both poured concrete and concrete block, not cinder block. I don't think they use cider blocks around here anymore. The only problem I've had is when rain water comes toward the foundation rather than away. My poured wall cracked because of this and started leaking. On my block wall house, the driveway was pitched toward the house, causing rain water to find its way into the basement.

I feel the most important thing is to keep the water away from the house, or you're going to have problems no matter what.

Stay away from "cinder" blocks, too weak and porous. Make sure the blocks are concrete.

If you're building a house, go with poured walls.

01-29-2007, 05:06 PM
Maybe they are concrete blocks, I'll check next week. I have only seen the term 'Block" and assumed they were cinder. Looks like Masonry will not be my next career move.

01-29-2007, 05:08 PM
I was a mason for 20 years in the north east. A good 12 inch block rebar re-enforced and grouted vertical every four feet with horizontal "bond beam" grouted top course and middle course is probably as good or better than the normal concrete foundation... But you won't find that often. You are best off with a poured concrete foundation even if you spend a few thousand more for the house.

01-29-2007, 09:51 PM
Ryan, I would no worry about either one, both will hold up just fine.

Find any houses you like yet?

01-29-2007, 10:41 PM
Ryan, I would no worry about either one, both will hold up just fine.

Find any houses you like yet?

Only 32 so far. But, we still have until the next week before we come out there. If Columbus were a clock, we are looking at everything along the edge from 9:00 to 5:00.

So far Choctaw is out of the picture, maybe it will work later after the next promotion when I can afford a house with a boat lift. Going out there just doesn't make sense anymore with HOA dues and all when I can go live by Griggs or Oshaughnesey (Sp?). I did another search on the Mid Ohio Water Ski Club to see if the course is still up and sanctioned by the city, but they seem to have dropped of the face of the planet. Have you heard anything about it?

01-29-2007, 10:48 PM
Mid Ohio is still around, they never update their website.

My ski partner is a member.

Mid Ohio has a course on O'Shag, there is also a course on Griggs.

01-29-2007, 10:50 PM
When I was out that way last year, I saw a ski lake with a course along the interstate just outside of Columbus on the way to Cincy.
I went back to google and yahoo maps looking for it, but couldnt find it.

Block vs poured, really dosnt matter if it is well constructed with good materials.