Difference Between Foundation and Footing

Foundation and footing are terms related to the construction and civil engineering field and are primarily found in construction sites. They are needed to estimate the life of the building in many ways.

These two decide the strength of a building or whatever is being constructed and are thereby the primary reassurance to the people using that building regarding safety.

Foundation vs Footing

The main difference between foundation and footing is that while the foundation is the lowest part of a building that is in contact with the ground, the footing is the lowest part of the foundation and is the first element that is constructed in a building. Footing mainly gives support to each separate column and beam of a building whereas the foundation gives primary support to the whole building.

Foundation vs Footing

Foundation is the lower part of the building that is in direct contact with the ground. It is to the foundation that all the force and the loads added on to the building eventually go. Depending on the soil type and the geographical variations in each area, the type of foundation could be decided and implemented correctly.

Footing is the basic foundation but in a different sense as the footing is the lowermost part of all foundations that comes in contact with the soil and therefore transfers the load carried on by the building onto the ground. The topography variations in each piece of land change the kind of footing that the building would get. Its primary function is to support columns individually thereby supporting the building as a whole.

Comparison Table Between Foundation and Footing

Parameters of ComparisonFoundationFooting
First To Be ConstructedNoYes
Touches The GroundNoYes
Can Be Many in Number in A Single BuildingNoYes
Has Many Different DimensionsNoYes
Number Of TypesTwoThree

What is Foundation?

Any structure being constructed would have the foundation as its lowermost part that gives support to the entire building and helps absorb any shock attained by the building.

When a building as a whole is being considered, it is the foundation that comes in contact with the ground and diverts the force and loads that are given to the building to the ground.

For any structure to be approved by the municipality and the authorities, the foundation needs to be strong and stable enough to handle the hurdles posed by the weather and the topographical changes.

The stronger the foundation, the longer a building could be expected to last and remain standing without much renovations and modifications.

The ground level for the construction of a foundation can also decide the stability of the building. But that doesn’t always mean that the lower the foundation is, the stronger the building would be.

The even construction of the foundation is a necessity as this is crucial in determining whether the load from the building is distributed evenly and whether the ground would become unsettled or not.

There are two main types of foundation that are suitable for almost all climatic and topographical conditions.

These are shallow and deep foundations.

Shallow foundations are built at a depth of approximately 1.5 meters below the actual ground level and are used in plain land areas.

Deep foundations are usually advised to those people building structures in mountainous terrains and dangerous topography.

The depth for deep foundations can go below 1.5m from the ground level.

Both deep and shallow foundations have different categories of construction that vary in small degrees depending on the cost and materials.

What is Footing?

Footing is a part of the foundation that is actually in contact with the ground.

It is the footing that provides individual support to all the beams and columns in a building and therefore reduces the total force on the foundation by diluting the force to the footings.

The shock absorbed by the building that is transferred to the ground is by the courtesy of the footing.

A building may have many different footing that is spread all over the ground structure. The greater the number of footing, the more firm the structure is.

In a single building, there can be as many footing as possible and this depends on the environmental conditions of the area where the building is located.

The footing can be of any width and length. These must be of the proper dimension so as make sure that the building has an even grounding and won’t be unstable.

When the construction of any structure officially begins, it is the footing that is laid out first on the ground even before the foundation is built over it.

In a building, the size of the footing can vary in each corner depending on the soil granules and the rock formations found beneath the ground level.

Footing can be of many different types. These variations in footing are majorly based on the length and the beam strength provided.

Another major component that determines a difference in the footing is the slope of the part that comes in contact with the ground.

It can either be a highly stable and good quality material or the other way around, all depending on the environmental factors of the place.

Simple footing slopped footing and stepped footing are three major kinds of footing used all over the world in different kinds of topographies.

Main Differences Between Foundation and Footing

  1. While all foundations can not qualify as footing, all footing could be called a foundation, irrespective of what the support structure is for.
  2. Foundation can’t have many different width and length variations in a single structure whereas footing can have different types of dimensions in one building.
  3. A structure that is under construction can have only one foundation for the whole building but on the other hand, a building can have many footings.
  4. While the construction begins, the first and foremost thing to be constructed is the footing but the foundation comes only after the footing and is built on top of it.
  5. There are two major different kinds of foundations but there are three different kinds of footings that could be used while construction.


Foundation and footing are essential for the longevity and stability of any structure that is being constructed.

These two are given the primary importance and it is not common for people to be seen compromising on the materials used for the construction of foundation and footing.

Despite all environmental factors, civil engineering and contractors ensure that each specific area gets the right kind of foundation or footing that would ensure complete safety for the building.

Buildings that usually degrade under pressure from the environment are those which have a lower quality of the base elements that are the foundation and the footing.

Before starting any construction, it is always better to get advice from different experts regarding the foundation and footing.


  1. https://www.accessengineeringlibrary.com/binary/mheaeworks/c0bff3cbf2c6b586/6c78a653c50bc8516ebd86248f22e3adba16d96df1e373870192956c44bd52f7/book-summary.pdf
  2. https://search.proquest.com/openview/ba6dc2f66efbbca53c9a4c01fb9cd605/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750
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