What would you think if a foundation contractor told you
that he could install your foundation in less than two hours?
You’d probably chalk it up to walking around too many job
sites without a hard hat.
But sometimes, seeing is believing. This certainly was the
case when I went down to southeastern Pennsylvania to watch the
installation of a Superior Wall foundation system. Superior
Walls of America, Ltd. (P.O. Box 427, Ephrata, PA 17522;
800/452-9255), manufactures a prefabricated foundation system
consisting of steel-reinforced insulated concrete panels that
are trucked to the site and set in place with a crane.
I was trained as a mason, and I’ve laid tens of
thousands of concrete blocks in conventional foundations. When
I first heard of the system, I have to admit I was a bit
skeptical. But after watching a Superior Wall foundation go in,
I‘m convinced the company has a first-rate foundation
What’s in a Wall?
The panels consist of 2x8 concrete studs, sheathed with a
1-inch layer of extruded polystyrene insulation board and
covered with an exterior face shell of 2-inch concrete. At the
top and bottom of the panels, the concrete studs and face shell
are connected by concrete "wall plates" that serve as bond
The panels are factory-cast using a 5,000-psi
fiber-reinforced concrete, and are available in standard
heights of 4, 8, and 10 feet in lengths up to 12 feet. The
concrete studs are reinforced with a 3/8-inch vertical bar on
the interior (tension) side of the wall, and each bond beam is
reinforced with two 3/8-inch bars.
A perimeter drain is placed a foot or so outside the foundation
footprint, and 6 inches of 1/2-inch crushed stone is spread
over the entire basement area and leveled.
1. In areas where the panels will sit, the
gravel is compacted with a vibratory plate compactor,
then accurately leveled using a magnesium