Soil types and soil types: Properties and influence on your construction project

Determine soil types and soil types

Soil types and soil types - importance for the construction industry

Choosing the right soil is a fundamental decision in house construction. Soil types, often referred to as soil textures or grains, play a decisive role in the planning and construction of buildings. They have a decisive influence on how a construction project is realised - from the type of foundation to drainage systems. The soil type provides information about the composition and size of the soil particles, which in turn has a direct impact on the load-bearing capacity, water permeability and workability of the soil.

Knowledge of the different types of soil is not only important for civil engineers and architects, but also for builders. A thorough understanding of soil properties can help to avoid planning errors, control costs and ultimately create a stable and long-lasting home. Determining the soil type should therefore be a priority step when planning a building project. Early ground investigations allow the properties of the subsoil to be determined precisely, enabling customised planning - whether with or without a basement.

In this guide, we look at the different types of soil - from gravel and crushed stone to sand, silt, clay and loam. We explain what the term "soil triangle" is all about and how you can determine the soil types on your property. We also provide tips on how you can adapt the planning of your construction project to the properties of your soil in order to avoid surprises and additional costs later on.

Whether you are at the beginning of your building project or already in the middle of the planning phase, choosing the right type of floor can make the difference between a dream home and a building disaster. Read on for a comprehensive overview of soil types and their importance in construction.

What types of soil are there?

The composition of the soil beneath our feet is crucial for the planning and realisation of building projects. Different types of soil have different properties that can have a significant influence on house construction. In this chapter, we look at the Basics of the different soil types and highlight their importance as well as the specific challenges and benefits they bring to construction.

Gravel and crushed stone: basics and importance for construction

Gravel and Ballastformed by natural processes such as water flow, are known for their coarse texture and excellent drainage properties. These types of soil provide a solid foundation for building projects as they have a high load-bearing capacity and drain water quickly. In construction, they are often used as a base for foundations and as a layer under roads and pavements. Their ability to drain water prevents waterlogging and thus protects the building fabric.

Sand: advantages and challenges in the construction context

Sandy soils are characterised by their coarse grains and rapid drainage of water. They are well suited to projects where rapid water drainage is required. However, their tendency to shift under load can be a challenge. Sandy soils require carefully planned foundations and, where necessary, ground improvement to ensure the stability of building structures.

Silt: properties and effects on construction projects

Silty soilswith their fine particles, tend to retain water and are less permeable than sand or gravel. They can be problematic during construction as they can compress under load and lead to uneven settlement. Careful planning and the implementation of suitable drainage systems are crucial to avoid moisture problems and structural damage.

Clay: Specific properties and handling in the construction industry

Clayey soils are known for their ability to store and swell water, which makes them particularly dense and difficult to work with. These properties pose particular challenges in construction, especially in terms of foundation stability. Clay soils require special construction methods and often soil stabilisation to prevent long-term damage due to shrinkage or expansion.

Clay: ideal composition for sustainable building

Claya mixture of sand, silt and clay, combines the positive properties of these soil types. It offers good load-bearing capacity, sufficient permeability and at the same time retains water and nutrients well. Clay soils are often the favoured choice for sustainable construction as they allow natural regulation of moisture in the building and are suitable for a wide range of construction projects.

Understanding the fundamentals and specific properties of these soil types is crucial for the successful planning and realisation of construction projects. A thorough soil analysis before construction work begins can help to make the right decisions and identify potential problems at an early stage.

Grain sizes and their role in soil characterisation

Grain size is a key criterion in the classification of soil types and plays a decisive role in soil characterisation. It provides information about the texture of the soil, which in turn significantly influences its physical properties and suitability for certain construction projects. In this chapter, we delve deeper into the world of grain sizes and explain how they determine soil types and what impact they have on the construction industry.

Soil can be divided into different categories based on the size of the particles that make it up. These categories range from large, highly visible pebbles to microscopic clay particles. The particle size is usually expressed in millimetres and divided into four main categories. All four grain sizes are summarised in the following soil type table:

Soil typeParticle size (diameter)PropertiesSignificance for construction
Gravelover 2 mmCoarse texture, good drainage capacityIdeal for foundations and substructures due to high load-bearing capacity and stability. Rapid water drainage prevents waterlogging.
Sand0.063 to 2 mmMedium grain size, fast drainagePopular because of its compactability and load-bearing capacity, requires careful consideration when designing the foundations.
Silt0.002 to 0.063 mmFine particles, good water retention, tends to compactCan lead to subsidence, requires suitable drainage systems. Careful planning necessary to avoid moisture problems and structural damage.
Soundless than 0.002 mmVery fine grain, high storage capacity for water and nutrients, tends to swell and shrinkPresents special challenges, requires special construction methods and soil stabilisation to avoid long-term damage due to volume changes.

The grain size is determined using physical tests, such as sieve and slurry analysis, which sorts the composition of the soil according to particle size. This analysis provides important information about the composition of the soil and enables precise classification.

Knowledge of the grain size is invaluable as it directly influences the permeability (permeability to water), plasticity (mouldability under pressure) and cohesion (cohesion of the particles) of the soil. For example, due to their high permeability and low cohesion, sandy soils require different construction techniques than clayey soils, which are more impermeable to water and can swell when wet.

Choosing the right type of foundation, considering the required drainage systems and predicting settlement behaviour are just some of the aspects in which grain size plays a decisive role. A sound knowledge of the grain size distribution of the soil helps builders and engineers to select the optimum techniques and materials for a construction project and thus erect stable and safe buildings in the long term.

Determining soil types - A practical guide

Correctly determining the soil type is a critical step in the construction industry that forms the basis for the planning and implementation of construction projects. This chapter provides a practical guide on how to determine the soil type, from soil profile analysis and laboratory methods to simple on-site methods.

Soil profile analysis: procedure and significance

The Soil profile analysis is a method in which a vertical cut is made through the soil to analyse the different layers and their composition. This method provides information about the soil structure, the distribution of grain sizes and the presence of organic materials.

ProcedureTo create a soil profile, a shaft or borehole is usually drilled to a certain depth. The different layers of the soil are documented, samples are taken and their properties are analysed.

MeaningAnalysing the soil profile is particularly important for assessing the suitability of a site for certain construction projects. It helps to assess the load-bearing behaviour, drainage properties and the need for soil improvements.

Sieve and sludge analysis: Laboratory methods for soil analysis

The Sieve and slurry analysis is a laboratory method that enables the precise determination of the grain size distribution in the soil. This method is particularly useful for identifying the exact composition of the soil and the predominant soil types.

ProcedureSieve analysis involves shaking soil samples through a set of sieves with decreasing mesh sizes. The amount of material left on each sieve provides information on the distribution of particle sizes. Slurry analysis is used for finer particles that fall through the sieves. Here, the sedimentation rate of the particles in a liquid is measured to determine their size.

MeaningThese analytical methods provide precise data on the ground conditions, which are crucial for the planning of foundations and other building structures. They provide a solid basis for the selection of suitable construction and foundation techniques.

Finger sample: A simple method for on-site determination

The Finger sample is a quick and simple technique for obtaining a rough assessment of the soil type directly on the construction site. It is based on the tactility and behaviour of the soil during manual processing.

ProcedureA small soil sample is slightly moistened and then rolled and moulded between the fingers. The consistency, mouldability and feel of the soil give an indication of the soil type. For example, sandy soil feels grainy and cannot be moulded, whereas clayey soil is sticky and can be easily moulded.

MeaningAlthough the finger sample does not provide precise scientific results, it is a useful method for a quick on-site assessment. It can help to get an initial idea of the soil conditions before more detailed analyses are carried out.

ground survey

Why is it important to have a soil survey carried out?

A soil survey is crucial in order to understand the nature and load-bearing capacity of the soil. It helps to avoid future problems such as subsidence or landslides and to ensure that the construction project is built on a solid foundation. At Erdbaron, we understand the importance of a sound ground survey for your construction project. Our team of experienced experts provide detailed soil analyses that not only give you peace of mind, but also help you save money in the long run. Rely on our expertise to put your building project on a secure footing.

The soil triangle: a useful tool for soil classification

Soil triangle Soil types Determination
Soil triangle - a central instrument for soil determination

The soil triangle is a key tool in soil science and plays a decisive role in the classification of different soil types. It provides a visual representation of the relative proportions of sand, silt and clay in a soil, allowing the soil type to be determined quickly and accurately. In this chapter we explain the importance of the soil triangle and its application in practice.

Meaning of the floor triangle

The soil triangle is based on a simple but effective principle: each corner of the triangle represents one of the three main components of soil - sand, silt and clay. The position within the triangle indicates the ratio of these components to each other and thus determines the soil type. This tool is particularly useful as it provides a direct visual assessment of soil properties, which is very important for planning construction projects, agricultural applications and environmental management.

Application of the floor triangle in practice

The application of the soil triangle begins with the determination of the percentage of sand, silt and clay in a soil sample. This data can be determined using laboratory tests such as sieve and sludge analysis. Once the percentages are known, they can be entered into the soil triangle. The intersection of the three lines, each extending from the sides of the triangle and representing the corresponding percentage, indicates the soil type.

The practical application of the soil triangle is diverse. It helps in the selection of suitable construction and foundation methods by providing information about the nature of the subsoil. In agriculture, it can be used to determine the most suitable crops and cultivation methods based on soil properties. In environmental management, the soil triangle is also an important tool for assessing erosion risks and planning soil conservation measures.

Consideration of soil types in house construction

The type of soil on which a house is built can have a significant impact on the stability and longevity of the structure. Careful consideration of soil types and conditions is therefore essential to avoid future problems. This chapter looks at how soil types affect the choice of foundation type and why water balance plays a crucial role.

Selection of the foundation type based on the soil type

The choice of foundation is one of the first and most important steps in building a house. The type of soil is the decisive factor that determines which foundation types are suitable. Sandy and gravelly soils with good drainage are generally well suited for strip foundations, as they allow an even load distribution. Clayey soils, on the other hand, which tend to expand and shrink, often require deeper foundations such as pile foundations in order to safely transfer the load to stable layers and compensate for soil movements. The right choice of foundation minimises the risk of subsidence and cracks in the building.

Water balance and soil type: decisive factors

The water balance of the soil is another critical aspect that must be taken into account when planning a building project. The soil's ability to store and drain water directly affects the moisture in and around the building. Inadequate drainage can lead to water accumulation, weakening the foundation and jeopardising the structure. Consideration of the soil type and the implementation of water control measures, such as drainage systems or water-permeable outdoor facilities, are therefore essential for structural safety.

Considering soil types in home construction is a complex but crucial endeavour that ensures the safety and stability of the entire building project. Thorough investigation and planning based on the soil conditions are essential steps in creating a long-lasting and safe home.

Frequently asked questions

What are the four types of soil?

There are four main floor types: Gravel, sand, silt and Soundeach with specific properties that influence their suitability for construction projects.

How do I determine the soil type?

The soil type can be determined by physical tests such as sieve and sludge analysis or simple on-site methods such as finger testing.

What is the difference between soil types and soil types?

Soil types refer mainly to the grain size and texture of the soil (e.g. gravel, sand, silt, clay), while Soil types represent a more comprehensive classification that also takes into account organic composition and chemical properties.

Why is a soil survey important?

A thorough Soil expertise helps to minimise the risk of construction delays and unforeseen costs by ensuring that your construction project is built on a solid foundation.

Erdbaron offers customised solutions for the professional execution of such surveys. On our Website you will find detailed information on the services and the associated costs to get your building project on the right track right from the start.

How can a soil survey help to save construction costs?

By identifying potential ground problems at an early stage, suitable countermeasures can be planned to prevent unexpected costs and delays during the construction process.

What factors are assessed in a soil expertise?

A soil survey evaluates factors such as soil type, load-bearing capacity, water permeability and risks such as erosion or shrinkage, which are crucial for the planning and realisation of your construction project.

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