DJI 0007.00 00 05 15.Still001 1

Weak Soil Solution for Pre-Construction: Vibro Stone Columns

In Commercial Blog Posts by John Topa

A solid and properly constructed soil composition is vital to modern infrastructure and the foundations they’re built on. In this article, we will cover why vibro stone columns are the best choice for pre-construction.

For general contractors in the State of Florida, the decision to implement a soil analysis test before the construction of the foundation begins can keep your structures standing as they should, or you may be subject to numerous callbacks because your structure is sinking.

Due to the water tables in the State of Florida and unstable ground throughout the state, the selection of the best site with the best source of the ground is a good place to start. Just like everything else in life, building blocks also apply to the soil. Once a decision has been made about a potential site, the next step is to apply the correct reinforcement application to stabilize the ground in order to guarantee adequate support for the foundation.

According to experts in the soil remediation industry, this decision to reinforce granular soils before the construction of the foundation begins is a very important one. Installing aggregate piers or vibro stone columns are emerging as the preferred method for stabilizing the ground by most general contractors throughout the State of Florida. If you want to build either a residential, commercial or industrial structure in the Sunshine State, please continue reading to see how this advanced technology in soil stabilization is changing pre-construction infrastructure.

What are Aggregate Piers and Vibro Stone Columns?

Although aggregate piers and vibro stone columns are oftentimes referred to as one of the same; however, there are slight differences. Aggregate piers are engineered of crushed stone, and they are deployed in shallow locations under the building’s footprint. On the other hand, vibro stone columns are compacted and vibrated stone that’s inside of a machine-drilled borehole. Vibro stone columns are used primarily for weak granular soils to improve the bearing capacity for foundations and the structures they support.

Most geology experts in the State of Florida agree that vibro stone columns dramatically improve the bearing capacity for multi-story buildings, industrial facilities, and commercial buildings. Installing Vibro stone columns prevents foundation settlement and provides the most important building block in your infrastructure. Massive structures can cost millions to construct; therefore, you want vibro stone columns for foundations that prevent excessive settlement and sinkholes from forming.

Helicon vibro stone columns

How Do Vibro Stone Columns Work?

Vibro stone columns are a ground improvement application that works by transferring structural loads to acceptable levels in weak ground conditions. Vibro stone columns coupled with vibration compaction strengthens and consolidates the weak soil. The State of Florida is known for containing lots of sand in its ground composition; therefore, installing vibro stone columns and compacting non-cohesive soils will provide a stable building platform for structures that otherwise would be unsuitable for construction.

Vibro stone columns can also be a cost-effective alternative to pressure grouting, piling, and other soil remediation techniques. Regardless of the technique deployed, the site itself must be big enough to justify and accommodate the required structure. By consolidating loose sands and unstable ground with Vibro stone columns and proper compaction before construction greatly reduces the risk of infrastructure failure.

The Importance of Ground Improvement

Ground improvement techniques such as vibro stone columns and piled foundations provide adequate support for structures by transferring their loads to rock or ground that has enough bearing capacity and acceptable settlement characteristics. Depending on the ground composition of the site can dictate the type of foundation required to support the structure.

Although Vibro stone columns are commonly used throughout Florida, there’s also a wide range of other ground improvement types available. Certain factors can make them more suitable for different applications, which depends on certain infrastructure considerations that include:

  • Ground conditions
  • Load requirements for the structure
  • Durability of materials
  • The presence of water
  • Proximity to other structures
  • Sensitivity to vibration and noise
  • Cost and accessibility
  • The load exerted on the piles

Very broadly speaking, foundations can be categorized as deep foundations or shallow foundations. Shallow foundations are generally used for structures such as one or two-story residential homes where the load imposed is relatively low when compared to the surface soil’s bearing capacity.

Foundations for industrial facilities, commercial buildings, and multi-story buildings are required when the surface soil’s bearing capacity is inadequate to support the load imposed. Vibro stone columns are just one of many solutions to transfer the load imposed to deeper ground levels; therefore, increasing the surface soil’s bearing capacity.

The Importance of Proper Soil Pre-Construction

The stability and strength of soil are directly related to the physical properties it contains. Construction sites with a good ground structure are more stable for heavy load-bearing structures. Clay ground textures are significantly more stable than sand ground textures; however, a mixture of both combined with aggregates such as vibro stone compaction is the best method for solid soil engineering.

Not all soil compositions are created equal. Certain clay minerals known as smectite are more subject to shrinking and expanding during drying and wetting cycles than other clay minerals such as kaolinite. Fortunately, there are soil pre-construction techniques that can modify the landscape for suitable building sites when the initial ground composition isn’t ideal.

Installing drainage systems or reshaping the landscape to pitch the water away from the construction site is just a couple of examples of good soil engineering practices. Additionally, it’s also important to know ahead of time what type of soil compositions exist on the potential construction site. This is valuable information that can be utilized to deploy corrective measures to stabilize the soil, which avoids future infrastructure failures.

The Importance of Soil Maps

oil maps are a vital tool in helping engineers and architects determine the best construction site for their designs. Soil maps contain geological information that is used to configure the water runoff, drainage, slope of the land surface, biological soil composition, and physical properties of the location. For public access to soil maps from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, click here.

The Best Solution for General Contractors in Florida

The best solution for stabilizing soil in the State of Florida is to partner with a certified soil remediation company that specializes in a variety of ground improvement and installing the proper soil composition and compression ratios for maximum surface soil bearing capacities.

All structures have soil underneath them, selecting the best building site coupled with the best soil engineering applications such as vibro stone columns will determine the service life of such structures.