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Understanding Florida's Soil Composition and its Effects on Foundations

Soil composition.

A critical component of understanding the factors affecting your foundation in Florida involves identifying the type of soil composition on which your home or building is situated. The native soil type in your local area can play a significant role in determining the likelihood that settlement damage can occur to your foundation.

Even if you have yet to notice any signs of foundation issues, understanding the soil type beneath your property can provide valuable insight into potential problems that may arise in the future.

There are many different layers of soil on which your home sits, each characterized by varying degrees of density and unique traits that impact the long-term stability of the foundation.

The soil directly surrounding your foundation, referred to as the Active Zone, is of utmost importance. Varying in depth depending on where your home is located, this soil is heavily influenced by changes in moisture and climate, making it the primary contributor to most foundation issues.

Recognizing the soil type within the Active Zone is crucial for understanding potential foundation issues and providing a proactive opportunity to prepare effectively.

Common Soil Types in Florida 

Although many different soil types exist in Florida, some have proven to provide greater foundational support than others. Moisture impacts various soil types differently, and understanding how the native soil on your property will be affected is important.

The most common soil types in Florida:

  • Sandy Soil: The particles that comprise sandy soil are larger compared to other soils, allowing for water to drain freely. Since water isn't absorbed, sandy soils tend to be very stable, maintaining consistent volume and density. Sandy soils are often preferred for foundations because of their stability and lower susceptibility to settlement. However, purely sandy soils are only found in specific regions in Florida, making them less prevalent than other soil types.

  • Silt Soil: Made up of rock and mineral particles smaller than sand but larger than clay, silt soil has a higher moisture retention capacity than sand. Silt will also drain at a slower rate compared to sand and will tend to erode and settle under sitting water. While silt may be advantageous for growing crops, its higher water retention can pose greater challenges for foundations.

  • Clay Soil: Comprised of the smallest particles out of all the soil types, clay soil may be the least favorable composition for foundation stability. Due to its high moisture absorption, clay will expand as it becomes more saturated and will shrink when it dries out. The pressure exerted on a foundation by clay's water absorption, along with the gaps formed around a home due to clay's shrinkage when water drains, can result in significant shifts in the foundation, leading to increased instability and damage.

  • Loam Soil: Loam soil is a composition made up of a mixture of sand, silt, and clay and is often considered one of the best soil types on which to build foundations. Combining the qualities of other soil types, loam tends to excel not only in agricultural growth due to its high fertility but is also one of the ideal soil types for the construction of foundations. Loam doesn’t retain water and expand as much as clay and silt and typically doesn't shift as drastically, but erosion remains a valid concern. When enough erosion occurs, the soil may lose its strong load-bearing qualities, leading to inevitable foundation problems.

  • Peaty Soil: Though mostly common in wetland areas, peat soil is still prevalent in some Florida regions. Peat is not an ideal soil type for foundations, as it can retain large amounts of water and has a weak load-bearing capacity. Some structures are still built on peaty soil, but they are at a greater risk of foundational shifting and damage.

With the many different soil types that are found in Florida, it's beneficial to understand the unique characteristics of the soil surrounding your foundation. Knowing if the soil your foundation sits on is more susceptible to foundational shifting can help you recognize early signs of damage and even implement preventive measures as necessary.

If you suspect that the soil surrounding your foundation has eroded or shifted and signs of foundational damage have appeared, don't hesitate to schedule a free inspection with a top industry expert to identify the right solution for you.

With 35 years of serving Florida residents, LRE Foundation Repair is ready to help you identify your foundation’s unique challenges and provide solutions with unparalleled results. Schedule a free inspection today to find out what solutions are available for you.

Proudly Serving Florida

We serve the following areas

  • Alachua
  • Atlantic Beach
  • Bostwick
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  • Brooker
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  • Day
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  • Jacksonville Beach
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  • Lake Como
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  • Lee
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  • Putnam Hall
  • Raiford
  • Saint Augustine
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Our Locations:

LRE Foundation Repair
1115 South Main Street
Suite 101
Brooksville, FL 34601

LRE Foundation Repair
2150 34th Way N
Largo, FL 33771

LRE Foundation Repair
277 Power Ct
Sanford, FL 32771

LRE Foundation Repair
702 NW 9th Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311
LRE Foundation Repair serves Florida, including [major cities1]