Why Concrete Piers Are Better than Steel Piers

Pier and beam foundations are the best choice for homes in areas with expansive clay soils and flooding. However, slab-on-grade foundations can be just as durable when built correctly. Regardless of the type of foundation you have, it must be strong enough to support the weight of your home for decades, even in changing climate conditions. Because foundations can eventually become damaged, we recommend using driven concrete piers or pile guard piers to repair them. This is the only long-term solution that works every time.

The Benefits of Concrete Piers


To address a failing foundation, it is crucial for the piers to be driven until they reach the point of refusal. While experienced contractors typically install both steel and concrete piers correctly, issues can arise if one or more steel piers fail to penetrate a suitable soil-bearing layer. When steel piers do not reach the appropriate stratum, they can shift, leading to additional foundation problems that will require repairs. Furthermore, if a steel pier is installed at an angle or loosely fitted into the soil, water runoff can flow down the pier and accumulate, particularly in clay soil that has high water absorption capacity. This excessive moisture can cause the soil to become soft, compromising the pier’s stability and resulting in foundation shifts that render the home unstable.

Concrete piers, on the other hand, are significantly heavier than steel piers and possess the necessary strength to ensure the stability of the entire structure. Although concrete piers cannot be driven as deeply into the ground as steel piers, most areas in and around Houston do not have exceptionally deep soils. In many locations across Houston, the point of refusal is typically reached at depths ranging from 6 to 10 feet. Therefore, concrete piers generally do not require a depth exceeding 10-15 feet to provide the required uplift capacity and maintain long-term stability.

Moreover, driven concrete piers and/or pile guard piers are installed using a unified hydraulic jacking system, ensuring that they are driven uniformly through unstable clay soils until they reach the point of refusal, which indicates solid strata or bedrock. Once all the concrete piers are properly positioned, they undergo individual load testing to a force greater than the weight of the entire home. This crucial load testing, conducted by qualified professionals, ensures that the repaired foundation can effectively bear the load of the entire structure. Once the piers pass the load testing, they are connected to the foundation using steel brackets and securely anchored with steel cables, finalizing the repair process.


Based on research conducted by the National Bureau of Standards, it has been found that steel piers are prone to rusting over time. Although rust may not have an immediate and significant impact on the strength and durability of steel piers that are buried in the ground, it can remain undetected until substantial damage occurs. This can have a detrimental effect on the overall structural integrity of your home. The rate of rusting in buried steel piers is influenced by factors such as soil corrosiveness, soil water content, and oxygen concentration, which can vary significantly from one location to another. Consequently, it is impossible to accurately predict the lifespan of these piers. Even protective coatings applied to steel piers cannot guarantee or prolong their estimated lifespan. In fact, recent research has indicated that the abrasion during the coating application process can actually reduce the life expectancy of steel piers.

Some individuals argue that foundation repair contractors also utilize steel brackets and cables to secure concrete piers. However, it’s important to note that these components are installed above ground level, making them accessible for regular inspection and replacement whenever necessary. This proactive approach ensures that any potential issues with the brackets and cables can be identified and addressed in a timely manner, maintaining the stability and reliability of the concrete piers and the foundation as a whole.


When compared to concrete, the production cost of steel is significantly higher. Additionally, the equipment needed for installing steel piers tends to be more expensive than the equipment used for concrete piers. As these additional expenses are passed on to customers, choosing steel piers over concrete piers often results in a higher bill for foundation repairs. This raises the question: Why would a homeowner willingly invest more money in steel piers when concrete piers can perform the same, if not better, job?

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    AAA Foundation Service

    Whether you’re dealing with extensive foundation damage or minor issues, selecting the right contractor for the task is crucial, just like choosing the most suitable repair method. At AAA Foundation Service, our highly trained team is adept at efficiently and skillfully installing driven concrete piers and/or pile guard piers, along with any other necessary foundation repairs. With our expertise, you can have peace of mind knowing that your home is restored to its structurally sound condition. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation and repair estimate!

    Chris Bartlett
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