On the Horizon:
New technologies for the foundations of the future

Self-Leveling Concrete
A new chemical called a "super-super" plasticizer makes it possible to pour a mix that flows almost like water but retains structural integrity. (Normally, a too-thin mix allows the aggregate to settle to the bottom before the concrete cures, resulting in a weaker wall.) "You can back a truck up to one corner and pour the whole foundation," says Ed Sauter, executive director of the Concrete Foundations Association. "It just spreads everywhere." That beats having to pump or shovel the concrete where it's needed. And like water on the surface of a lake, the top of "super-super" plasticized concrete automatically sets level, a good start for framing.

Photo: Keller and Keller

Fabric-Formed Footings
Rather than laboriously building footing forms out of boards, some foundation contractors are using lightweight forms made of high-density polyethylene fabric. These flexible fabric systems conform easily to sloping and uneven sites, which simplifies excavation, and the fabric stays in place as a built-in dampproofing membrane. The bulging sides of the finished footings also help to divert water away from the foundation.

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