Quality Foundation Repair San Antonio

How to Enclose Pier and Beam Foundation Structures

Table of Contents

Pier and beam foundation structures can be beautiful for a series of reasons. First, they’re very good at providing flood protection, which is excellent for locations on the flood-prone side of the fence.

Additionally, the matter of electrical wiring and plumbing fixtures is easy to access. The possibilities for insulation are also very notable.

These kinds of foundations can cost a bit more than others, but the price is worth it.

Today, the focus is on enclosing a pier foundation. The idea behind this is to offer some measure of protection from insects, encouraging better insulation, etc.

Setting Up the Pier and Beam Enclosure

You’re going to need pressure-treated plywood to get through this one. It’s very commonly used for the enclosure process. This is because people can find it in a broad range of finishes, it has a high resistance to insects, and it can ward off wet and dry rot very well.

Additionally, some variations of the pressure-treated plywood will have chemicals infused that provide a layer of fire resistance. It also helps that not using concrete means you won’t have to wait long for a drying process to complete.

Now, onto the actual process:

  1. Grab a shovel, start between two of the foundation beams, and begin to dig a channel. You’re shooting for a depth of at least 12 inches here.
  2. Use a tape measure to ascertain the distance between the beams the channel is between. Next, capture that measurement from the channel’s base to the top of the rim joist.
  3. The plywood board will now need to go into the channel, after which you should nail it atop the rim joist.
  4. Now, you can use gravel to fill up the channel. The aim is to get it level with the surface.
  5. Continue to repeat the steps provided until the whole foundation is enclosed.

While these steps are pretty universal, people who live where there is a lot of clay or in a cold climate are advised to install a drain.

Increasing the Aesthetic Appeal of the Enclosure

As indicated before, plywood is pretty durable and resilient, and you can get a ton of different finishes. Still, you may find that it’s not the most visually appealing thing in the world by default. Therefore, you may want to beautify things a bit. Here are a few solid options that should help!

Stone Veneer Cladding

There can be simulated stone, natural stone, or a combination of the two used to make stone veneer. Being cladding, it provides a lightweight feel and a straightforward installation method. The best part is that it looks a lot like solid stone. As you can imagine, it doesn’t carry the price tag of natural stone, which is a huge plus.

Painting

Paint works wonders in many applications, and this is yet another one. It’s as straightforward as you’d imagine, too. Just paint the plywood that’s enclosing the foundation. However, you shouldn’t use just any paint that you see. You’ll want to get a variation suited explicitly to outdoor use. Good examples are latex or acrylic paints.

Prime the area before painting as you would when painting standard interior or exterior walls. It’s also a good idea to apply at least two coats if you want the paint job to last.

Stucco Layer

This construction material can provide an incredible textured finish to the enclosure’s walls. The cement-based compound can be obtained in various colors and provides one and three-coat options. As you can imagine, the one-coat variation is easier to apply, but you’ll get greater longevity from the three-coat option.

Lattices

This speaks to a decorative layer that’s comprised of thin wooden strips. They will then be placed in a way that creates a diamond pattern. Think of a chain link fence, and you’ll get the idea. If you’re the type of person who is going for a relaxed feel or a country style, then lattices have you covered.

Some people will do exterior wall and lattice color coordination. Lattices are sought after because they are pretty cheap for foundation decorations. The diamonds the wood creates are sometimes used to hang up decorations for events.

Even without going through all that, you’ll get a solid decoration choice by going the lattice route.

Flower Beds and Hedges

Here’s another decorative option that works great for the foundation. The hedge is a series of plants characterized by dense leaves. Since the flowers used are entirely up to you, you’re free to use options that will complement the house color well.

Don’t forget that the flowers have other uses too. Since they are so dense, assuming that you choose variants that will grow enough and take care of them, you will also be increasing your privacy level at home.

Additionally, there’s less of a worry that the ground will sink under the foundation since the presence of plants is less likely to mean a lack of moisture.

That said, you will want to ensure that wherever you are planting the hedges or flowers, it is lower than the ground leading to the foundation. Not having that setup means risking the water going towards the pier and beam foundation, which means possible foundation weakening or damage.

Concrete Blocks

It may seem simple, but concrete blocks are also a great option to cover the enclosure. Some people will go this route and use pebbles as decoration.

As you can imagine, concrete is pretty easy to install and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Take some time to consider whether a thin concrete film is more appealing to you or if you want full-on concrete blocks around.

Problems the Pier and Beam Foundation May Have

Pier Collapse

While a pier and beam foundation is expected to be stable, you never know what can happen. Sometimes, without proper drainage or high wind loads, the piers end up sinking into the ground, creating instability because of the unevenness.

Beam Shifting

Shifting beams can be very problematic, too. This is often an effect of aging. You may observe that the floor joists of the foundation are sagging, which is the likely culprit. Shims will often be used as a solution, though new piers may need to be installed to mitigate the issue in the future.

Termite Issues

As you know, termites find wood incredibly appealing. That’s why they are a common problem with these kinds of designs. Enclosing the foundation is a great way to prevent this.

Get Professional Assistance

It may sound pretty straightforward to enclose your pier and beam foundation and air seal it. Then, you can probably apply stucco to the outer walls and make it look great. However, you’d be surprised how much precision is required to get it right, especially for longevity.

You’re advised to leave this to the professionals for the best possible outcome.

Wrapping Up

Enclosing the pier and beam foundation creates a lot of advantages, such as preventing heat loss and keeping termites away. Now you know how it works and what you can do to make it look great!

Frequently Asked Questions

A great way is to enclose it with pressure-treated plywood, which you can then decorate to your liking.

Lean on professionals to improve exterior drainage, add vents, set up mechanical ventilation, add sump pumps, or do whatever else may be necessary for circulation.

Enclosing it as prescribed above is a great way to protect against insects, rot, etc.

A good rule of thumb is to use a distance of 3 times their diameter, center to center.