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Footing or Footer: Which is It?

Is it a footing or footer?

Believe it or not, the answer to this question might depend on where you're located!


As a seasoned professional in the construction industry, with over 90% of the projects he’s worked on taking place in Iowa, and especially Central Iowa, Chief Operating Officer Eric Simon calls those things that go in the ground to support the structure above it a footing. However, working with our team in Columbus, Ohio, Project Engineer Jerica Ruballo talks about projects where they’ve installed footers


Eric thought that to be one of those situations where someone is talking about skyhooks, the beam stretcher, or the wireless electrical cord as a joke… come to find out, it is typical industry jargon in Central Ohio for the concrete foundations you find around the perimeter of a building to be called footers.


Technically, both terms are correct!


Concrete stem walls

In many building structures, a stem wall is placed on the footing to bring the perimeter foundation (and often interior load-bearing walls) up to a certain height, which might be at or just below what is intended to be the slab level.


In Iowa, these stem walls are almost exclusively formed and poured with concrete and some amount of reinforcing bars within it. Wouldn’t you guess it, but in Ohio they usually pour the footer and then bring the stem wall up to elevation using concrete masonry units (CMU), sometimes referred to as “cinder block,” with rebar inserted in the cores of the block.

Why? We don’t really know, other than there must be more concrete tradespeople in Iowa and more masons in Ohio? Or concrete is more readily available at a cheaper price than CMU in Iowa? The two climates are similar, and most lighter-weight building structures don’t need the superior strength of concrete, so if you have an opinion on this please reach out to us and let us know!


CMU stem walls

While industry jargon and methods for getting foundations ready for the structure above them are different in Iowa versus Ohio, one thing we can agree on is what the footings or slabs are called. We sometimes hear people talk about their patios, driveways, or sidewalks and they reference walking on the cement. Cement is a binding agent made from limestone and clay.


Concrete is a mixture of cementing material (typically Portland cement), mineral aggregate (sand and gravel), and water. So, while you are technically walking on cement, that is only one element of the building material that comes together to form the hardened surface. So, the next time you hear someone call their driveway cement, you can tell them they are partially correct, or you can just smile, knowing that you know that they’re actually referring to concrete!


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