Floating Slabs vs Conventional Foundations

Without a sound foundation, structures can become vulnerable. However, not all foundations are created equal.

Slab Foundations vs Conventional Foundations

ECONO-SLAB™ foundations offer a proven engineering alternative to traditional construction methods. With just one pour, they provide significant savings in material and labour costs while also requiring little excavation, resulting in shorter installation times  compared to conventional footings and/or frost walls.

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Conventional foundations can require as many as three pours, with a lengthy cure cycle after each pour. Separate pouring for the footings, frost wall and slab extends longer installation period, as well as increased costs due to the extra concrete used.  

ECONO-SLAB™ saves you time and money; by not requiring pouring and setup times for frost walls and footings you can shorten the timeline, and thus the budget. of your project.

Foundation Comparisons 

Here's a closer look at the major differences between floating slab and conventional foundations.

Conventional Foundations

ECONO-SLAB™ Foundations


The cost of a conventional foundation is influenced by the number of footers required (i.e., the number of columns the foundation supports), as well as the height of the frost wall.

In cold-climate regions, building codes mandate that foundation footings must be installed below the frost line. In Canada and the northern United States, this typically means a depth of approximately 4 feet. In some areas, due to weather changes, it is now 6 feet.

Since this foundation type has no footings, insulation is laid underneath the slab and along edges to prevent frost penetration. This insulation is much faster to install and more cost-effective than building a foundation with footings and frost walls as the extensive excavation, and extra concrete costs far outweigh the price of insulation.

Slab foundations require one concrete delivery and cure time. Using our specified concrete mix also eliminates the need for control joints, making the ECONO-SLAB™ a much stronger solution. Saw cuts in a conventional slab weaken the slab before it’s ever used.

Labour Costs

Conventional foundations require extra labour for excavation. Bigger projects will need more labour and sometimes specialized work, such as surveyors or machine operators.

In addition, traditional foundations may demand up to three pours, with curing intervals between pours, lengthening setup time and increasing costs.

Compared to a frost wall and footing foundation, floating foundations eliminate digging trenches and heavy excavation. For most projects this takes weeks off the total construction time, dramatically reducing labour and costs.

Installation Costs


Inspections are standard across foundation types. Foundation inspections are important both before and after the installation of a new foundation.

All foundations must adhere to local building codes and have inspections.

ECONO-SLAB™ foundations are designed by professional engineers who assess project needs before developing best fit solutions. Foundations are designed to meet local, municipal and national building codes.

Planning & Design

Planning costs for a standard project are likely to include:

  • Stamped Engineered Drawings
  • Building permits
  • Soil reports

You’ll want to obtain a full geotechnical report because soil composition and capacity play a big part in determining how your foundation is designed.

ECONO-SLAB™ provides clients with custom-designed foundations and certified drawings. Drawings include graphical representations of what is to be built for contractors or DIYers to execute and allow for accurate cost estimates.

In addition to project stamped drawings, ECONO-SLAB™ foundations ship complete and ready to install with galvalume forms, threaded rebar, fasteners, bolts, an installation manual, and stamped engineered drawings. Installation services are available.


Proper foundation drainage is crucial to prevent water infiltration.

In most cases, a drain pipe is installed around the perimeter of the basement and a wall drainage layer is added.

Unless natural, free-draining soil is present, foundation drainage is required.

The ECONO-SLAB™ sits atop a compacted base of free drawing gravel and doesn’t allow water or ice to pool underneath the slab. This prevents frost heave and allows the substrate to remain free of water.


Consider radiant heating ahead of your project. All pex tubing must be installed in the most effective layout prior to your pour.

Industrial and commercial slabs are often overlooked when it comes to heating and insulation. ECONO-SLAB™ foundations pair ideally with in-floor radiant heating to provide evenly distributed heating throughout an entire floor area, providing an environmentally sound, comfortable working space for users.

Sealing & Retrofitting

Waterproofing is an essential part of maintaining and protecting your frost walled structure. Without proper waterproofing, water can penetrate the foundation walls, leading to structural damage and an increased risk of flooding.

ECONO-SLAB™ foundations come with insulation laid underneath slabs and along edges to prevent frost penetration.The free draining gravel base under the insulation prevents water from building up in the first place.

Site Preparation

The initial stages of installation involve careful preparation of the land before any foundation type can be laid.

Trenching, which is typically done by backhoe, is necessary for the construction of frost walls, which need to be 4-6 feet deep.

Footings may also be necessary depending on the building being installed.

Site preparation for the installation of the ECONO-SLAB™ Foundation System is minimal.

Compared to a frost wall and footing foundation, ECONO-SLAB™ eliminates heavy digging and excavation, again reducing overall construction time and costs, while providing a more eco-friendly building system.

Cost to Lay Foundation

A conventional foundation or residential basement generally requires some type of grading and lot preparation, as the concrete footers supporting the foundation must be level and secure. The landscaping should direct water away from the walls to prevent moisture problems and grading should be done to prevent buildup.

Building an ECONO-SLAB™ foundation is a much simpler and less time-consuming process.

Pre-engineered metal forms and pre-cut bar packages from ECONO-SLAB™ are specifically designed for each structure. Anyone from DIYers to professional contractors can easily install the ECONO-SLAB™ by following project specific stamped drawings.

With the ECONO-SLAB™ in place, the concrete is formed and poured over the ground without frost walls or footings. Once the reinforced ECONO-SLAB™ is in place, the structure's weight is distributed in multiple directions, allowing for better stability in a stronger slab.

Although slab foundations have many advantages, they do require careful consideration. Always consult with a professional before choosing a foundation type.  

Get advice from our foundation experts before designing and ordering your building to ensure suitability for your specific needs. Trust our knowledgeable team for all your foundation-related questions.

ECONO-SLAB™ Partners/Dealers

Canadian Metal BuildingsMetal Pro Buildings
4145 North Service Rd., 2nd floor
Burlington, ON, L7L 6A3
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Contact us to have a no-obligation ECONO-SLAB™ quote prepared for your project. Better yet, if you contact us before you design or order your building, we can help with a foundation design that saves you the maximum possible on your whole project.

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