Stem Wall | Stem Wall Foundation | Stem Wall Construction | Stem Wall Repair

Stem Wall |  Stem Wall Foundation | Stem Wall Construction | Stem Wall Repair

What Is a Stem Wall?

Hello people, after doing a lot of research, I have come across a fantastic guide on Stem Wall Foundation.

The footing and stem wall transmit the load from the house to the feet and then it distributes the load over a large area. It protects the foundation from floods and some other environmental hazards.

Nowadays, it is very essential that the foundation of the structure should be strong and solid so that it can prevent the settlement of the foundation of the structure.

The Stem walls are considered the backbone of the foundation. The stem walls are part of the slab foundation system, which is often composed of concrete and rebar. If the foundation laid isn’t strong enough to stand the weight, there won’t be any point in erecting fancy buildings. Stem Wall is the same foundation at issue.

In this article, you will learn about stem walls and the Types of stem walls and their advantages and disadvantages, and concrete stem wall Design.

Stem Wall Foundation

The stem walls are a common type of foundation in the united states. The stem walls are short and attached to the concrete footing. The stem walls are generally used in houses with crawl spaces that are either vented or unvented.

Stem walls foundations are constructed in order to provide support to the walls of any building. As normal, these walls are quite short and are made of cement/concrete and steel.

The construction of Stem Walls may entirely be upon the architects but usually, they are necessary for earthquake-prone areas. Other than this, they are used for houses with crawl space that allows air to circulate right beneath the house/building.

The stem walls are solid and transmit the load from the house to the footing and then distributed to the large area.

Also Read: What Is Monolithic Slab? | Application of Monolithic Slab | Advantages & Disadvantagesof Monolithic Slab

Types of Stem Wall Foundation

The construction of a stem wall foundation is mandatory in certain circumstances. Here we lay down three types of Stem Walls with the intent that it would help you reach the perfect type for your building or house.

Different types of stem wall detail are as follows:

1. Masonry Stem Wall Foundation

Masonry Stem Wall

Typically, block stem walls are optioned as it’s the best choice for all types of residential houses, regardless of where they are located. However, there is one disadvantage and that is, block stem walls need more supervision and construction resources.

2. Wood Stem Wall Foundation

Wood Stem Wall

If you are looking for a relatively easier, time-saving, and cost-effective alternative, this one sounds about good.

Wood stem walls work out the best for vented crawl-space construction. However, if one goes for this alternative, they must pay meticulous attention to trivial details coupled with optional vapor retarders.

3. Concrete Stem Wall Foundation

Concrete Stem Wall

Alternatively, one can opt for a concrete stem wall, especially if the region they reside in is storm-prone, as such walls can support any building even through grisly weather. However, this may ask for constant attention, especially when the mixture/cement paste is being made.

Purposes of Stem Wall Foundation

Stem Wall provides support to the walls in perpetuity. Once these mini supporting walls are constructed, you barely need to worry about the building/house that will be relying on them. Other purposes of the same are mentioned below:

  1. Stem Wall wards off the possibility of structural damage to the house especially when the region is vulnerable to natural calamities. At times, water ends up making its way through the holes and cracks of the wall. In such cases, the stem walls support the structure throughout by not letting the water penetrate the structure.
  2. Poor construction and execution of stem walls are bound to tamper with the foundation, at times lifting it up which exposes it to the possibility of getting flooded out.
  3. Stem Walls help to level off the appearance of buildings or houses, thus making it more pleasing to the eyes. Once the base is lifted upwards, the chances of deterioration of the walls by rodents and insects significantly abate.
  4. The stem wall will help to protect the houses by lifting the base of the house and walls are protected from floods and other aggressive environmental conditions.
  5. The Stem walls allow easy access to plumbing, wiring, and other mechanical systems compared to the slab foundation.
  6. It is used to raise the foundation of the building, which helps to increase the beauty of the structure.
  7. Stem wall will help to keep the structure together and prevent any type of settlement of collapse.

Stem Wall Foundation Construction

The construction of such supporting stem wall foundation may vary, however, the following are the few common steps that need to be undertaken when building them:

  1. To begin with, weed out any wild plants, grits, and other unwanted debris on the site.  All the unwanted plants which are present on the site are removed and the site is cleaned properly.
  2. The next step of the stem wall foundation is to nestle the subgrade. For this, get a plate compactor and add pertinent materials to the soil with the purpose to achieve the perfect soil. However, if you are working on bigger projects, you will be needing bigger equipment.
  3. Once the above step is executed pouring footings. Bear in mind, the concrete bases for the stem walls must go 12 inches beneath the undisturbed soil and frost line, failing to do this will lead to pushing up of footings. The size remains the same width-wise as well.
  4. Stem walls are alternatively known as “two-pour foundations” as the first pour goes for the footing and the second for the stem walls.
  5. While the construction of the stem walls above the footing is being carried through, one must shovel in vertical bars to make sure the base is steadfast.
  6. After reckoning with and performing the above-mentioned steps, secure a sill plate to the stem walls using anchor bolts and you are good to go.

Also Read: What Is Floating Slab? | Purpose of Floating Slab | Construction of Floating Slab | Advantage & Disadvantage of Floating Slab

Stem Wall Foundation Pros and Cons

Most Importance of Stem wall foundation pros and cons

Stem Wall Construction Pros

There are multiple advantages of the Stem Wall as discussed hurriedly in the previous sections. There are some pronounced advantages as well and those are:

  1. The primary advantage of Stem Walls is that they are solid and can carry the weight of a house by distributing the weight to a much wider area.
  2. Stem Walls construction prevents mishap or dismantling of the house in catastrophic situations by raising the base higher.
  3. Over and above, plumbing, wiring, and other important work can easily be carried through.
  4. And finally, the more the house is lifted, the better it looks to the outsider’s eyes.

Stem Wall Construction Cons

There are a few Disadvantages of stem wall construction:

  1. The predominant disadvantage of such a construction is that it takes time and once the work gets approval, it has to be brought to a satisfactory end. You cannot leave it halfway through.
  2. Another major downside of such a support system is that human resource is a necessity and you will be needing a lot of it.
  3. Lastly, if you are planning on getting one of these built, be ready for a backfilling.

Also Read: What Is Concrete Topping? | Purpose of Topping Slab | Type of Concrete Topping Slab | Advantages & Disadvantages of Topping Slab | Construction Process of Laying Concrete Topping

Stem Wall Foundation Cost

The cost of the Stem Wall foundation can vary from region to region. The only thing that is fixed and is likely to charge you a good amount is the concrete, anchor, and other materials you will be needing in this process.

Total stem wall foundation cost of human resources and machinery(if working on a bigger project), the overall cost significantly shoots up.

Compared with other houses, a stem wall slab foundation require lots of effort, and money, depending on which foundation you required for your structure. The cost of the stem wall generally ranges between $7,000$ to $21,000.

Stem Wall Repair

Due to the fact that most houses are not waterproof, therefore, post tension, stem walls and stem wall repairs are usually damaged. Stem wall repair is a type of foundation inspection service that fixes small cracks in stem wall crack repair.

Stem wall repair costs can range from $350 to $20,000 for minor cracks. Also known as basement foundation.

Stem wall repairs are imperative to secure the stability of your foundation and home. Here are some common forms of stem wall foundation repair:

  1. Stem wall foundation underpinning
  2. Stem wall carbon fiber crack repair
  3. Stem wall seismic retrofitting

Stem Wall Foundation Vs Crawl Space

Stem Wall and Crawl Space slightly differ from one another. A crawl space foundation supports the house by ground level by 2 meters approx. whereas stem walls, on the other hand, provide long-term support to the house/building by distributing the weight of it to a relatively wider area.  This is the prime difference between the two.

The similarity, however, lies at the heart of its nature to hold the house upright.

Also Read: What Is CMU Wall? | Characteristics of CMU Block | CMU Block Dimensions | CMU Retaining Wall Construction | CMU Block Shapes | CMU Block Weight | Advantages & Disadvantages of CMU Walls

Stem Wall Vs Retaining Wall

Stem Wall is one of the main components that make up a retaining wall, the other components are the toe, the Heel, and the Shear Key. Over here, the stem wall is backing the backfill whilst the other three are the portions of the footing at the front side backfill side and under it as well.

As mentioned above, a stem wall is no different than a retaining wall, and if anything at all, it is a part of it.

Monolithic Slab Vs Stem Wall

The aforementioned foundations are the most popular on the market right now. Let’s decide whether the former is one upon the other or the latter. A monolithic slab with stem wall costs more time and expense than a monolithic slab foundation.

1. Flat Land Requirement:

Over here, monolithic slabs take the cake as all they need is a single pour and are also laid faster than the latter, for the latter requires intensive labor.

2. Calamity Proof:

As for this, Stem walls can be blindly pitched on as they provide support to the house by elevating it a tad bit.

3. Sound Structure:

Flood-hit zones having houses built over stem walls are less at risk of getting engulfed by the waves.

Also Read: What Is Retaining Walls? | Uses of Retaining Wall | Types of Retaining Wall | Advantages of Retaining Wall

Concrete Stem Wall Design

The Design of the concrete stem wall is as follows:-

The design of the stem wall foundation details is the same as the retaining walls. It has a strip footing or a pad footing at the bottom with loading applied on the top of the fill material.

Design Code For Concrete Stem wall:

Most of the designs of the stem walls follow IRC 2003 Code. Stem wall foundation details are:

1. Concrete Stem Wall Height:

According to the, 2003 IRC Code, the maximum height of the stem wall should not be more than 4 feet. For the stem walls having a height of more than 4 feet, there should be additional reinforcement should be provided.

2. Width/Thickness of Concrete Stem Wall:

The minimum width of concrete stem walls is 6” for single-story buildings.

3. Footing Pad for Concrete Stem Wall:

The bottom footing pad in the concrete stem wall is 12” minimum while for two stories it is 15” minimum.

4. Depth of Concrete Stem Wall:

The thickness of the concrete footing pad is between 6 inches to 7 inches. The minimum depth of the stem wall footing pad from the grade to the bottom of the footing is 24”.

5. Pouring Sequence for Concrete Stem Wall:

 Mostly two types of pour system is used for pouring the slab. The concrete footing pad is poured with projecting steel bars while the upper wall is built afterward with a construction joint in between.

6. Reinforcement of Concrete Stem Wall:

A “J” shape rebar is provided having a vertical shape with 4 diameters with over the center spacing of 48” and having 90” hook at the end of the bar to make it monolithic with the footing pad.

There are also two horizontal rebars provided one at the footing hook and one from 12” at the top.


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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Stem Wall Foundation

The stem-wall slab process is constructed step by step. First, the footer is poured at the right depth, then the block masonry is made which forms the wall up to the required slab level. When the crawl space is filled with dirt to achieve the final stem wall slab. Stem wall concrete slab will be more stable and help prevent other problems following the road.

Monolithic Slab Vs Stem Wall Cost

Monolithic slabs cost about Rs. Ft. 4 – $ 14. While the stem wall foundation cost is about Rs. Ft can be $ 5 – 16

Stem Wall Concrete Slab

The Stem wall are the common structure that connects the foundation of the building to the walls. The walls are used for the crawl spaces, both vented as well as unvented.

Forming Stem Walls

Forming stem walls may entirely be upon the architects but usually, they are necessary for earthquake-prone areas. Other than this, they are used for houses with crawl space that allows air to circulate right beneath the house/building.

What Is the Purpose of a Stem Wall?

Stem Wall wards off the possibility of structural damage to the house especially when the region is vulnerable to natural calamities. At times, water ends up making its way through the holes and cracks of the wall. In such cases, the stem walls support the structure throughout by not letting the water penetrate the structure.

Stem Wall Construction

Stem wall construction requires three components – a poured slab, foundation wall and spread footing.

How Much Does a Stem Wall Cost?

Compared with other houses, stem walls require lots of effort, and money, depending on which foundation you required for your structure. The cost of the stem wall generally ranges between $7,000$ to $21,000.

What Is a Stem Wall?

Stem-wall slabs are constructed in a multi-part process where the first footer is poured at ground level. Then masonry is done by blocks which form the wall up to the finished slab elevation. To achieve the final build elevation, its crawl space is filled with dirt. So, the foundation becomes more stable and strong.

Concrete Stem Wall Foundation

Stem walls are structures that are used to connect the foundation of a building to its walls. Predominantly constructed concrete stem wall foundation rises above the ground level to provide a raised platform for placing the building slab.

Stem Wall Garage

Stem wall Foundations are used to attach the foundation of a building to its walls. Concrete footings have been constructed primarily from a monolithic system with masonry walls. The garage stem wall rises above ground level to provide a high platform for laying the flooring slabs of the building.

Stem Wall Foundation Repair

Stem wall foundation repair costs start at $ 350 for small cracks and up to $ 20,000 if the structure is likely to collapse.

Block Stem Wall Foundation

In general, block stem walls are optional because they are the best choice for all types of residential buildings, no matter where they are located. However, there is one disadvantage and that is, block stem walls require more maintenance and construction resources.

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