Reasons for soil stabilization range from costs to durability, but one thing is sure: you can’t start your project without first making sure that the soil is stable. Read on to discover why soil stabilization is crucial for every construction project.
What Is Soil Stabilization?
The soil stabilization process uses engineering techniques to turn weak soil into a solid base for construction sites. Strong soil sets a firm foundation and increases its weight capacity. Construction workers choose the materials and methods that are most appropriate for your location, timeframe, budget, and other project site requirements.
What Are the Benefits of Soil Stabilization?
The more water the soil holds, the more likely it is to cause your project’s foundation to sink or shift. The soil stabilization process creates additional support and provides many other benefits, like:
Lowering costs: When you prioritize proper soil stabilization before getting your project started, you benefit from lower maintenance and construction costs.
Keeping you on schedule: Progress on your project slows when there’s unstable soil that could lead to a cave-in. Soil stabilization helps your crew stay on or ahead of schedule.
Making your soil permeable: If water is saturating your soil instead of helping it compact, it’s unsafe and harms progress. Soil stabilization fixes this issue.
Making your foundation sturdy: When you factor in the many things and people your structure will hold, the necessity of soil stabilization increases. The foundation of the building has to rest on solid soil that adequately withstands the weight of the entire load, and soil stabilization makes that happen.
Lime is perfect for water removal because it allows the soil to compact. It’s most often used in soil stabilization for subgrades and road construction, where the soil has a similar consistency as clay or plastic.
One of the most popular choices for soil stabilization is cement. Soil cement, a combination of soil and cement, is very versatile. You can use it with a variety of soil types. Other materials can be added as well, such as lime, sodium sulfate, or fly ash, to strengthen the mixture, and these additives chosen are based on the type of soil.
Two bituminous materials are tar and asphalt. When bitumen contacts soil, the materials attach and help soil compact and reduce water absorption. Depending on the type of soil, bitumen stabilization has four methods, which are:
Soil bitumen stabilization
Sand bitumen stabilization
Waterproof mechanical stabilization
The porous fabrics used in soil build-up are called geotextiles. Depending on the project’s characteristics, geotextiles are available in a variety of options, as well. They’re known for their excellent drainage, so they can be used in wet areas without worrying about soil erosion from rain or groundwater. Geotextiles offer affordability and longevity; they don’t erode over time, and once they’re in place, they stay, providing long-term soil stabilization.
Several chemicals are used as strengthening additives to help soil compact for improved stability. The three most popular chemicals are:
These three chemicals have similar working characteristics that increase soil water retention and help individual particles bind more easily. Chemicals must be applied multiple times due to chemical loss through leaching, and chemicals should reach certain levels of humidity during application to be effective.
The most common soil stabilization method is mixing the materials. Professionals identify the type of soil beforehand, so they know which material is best, and they’re careful to use the correct percentage of additives for the amount of soil. They also account for soil depth, since stability will still be an issue if the soil isn’t deep enough and the mixture can’t bind completely.
Grouting refers to when materials are injected into the soil. It’s a more expensive soil stabilization method often used to reach deeper parts of a construction site, where it’s difficult or sometimes impossible to combine the materials. Grouting materials include bituminous substances, chemicals, and polymers, to name a few. This works for most soil types, but not for clay-like soils due to low permeability.
Electrical stabilization is also known as electroosmosis. This method is also more expensive and isn’t used as often. It’s almost exclusively used in clay-like soils. For electrical stabilization, site workers insert metal electrodes into the earth and run a direct current through the ground, moving water towards one of the electrodes. As water is removed from the soil, it’s more easily compacted, creating a stronger foundation for construction vehicles.
How Does Soil Stabilization Contribute to Erosion Control?
Soil stabilization protects the project site by binding the soil. This increased adhesion makes the soil more stable, which then reduces erosion caused by outdoor elements. Tackifiers protect seedbeds by holding the product in place and preventing movement. The importance of soil stabilization and erosion control go hand in hand. Both are vital to completing a project well and safely.
Varsity, Inc. Keeps Your Construction Site Safe
Varsity, Inc. has two main priorities: safety and customer satisfaction. Structural design for buildings, parking lots, and roadways means nothing if the bearing capacity isn’t up to par. We understand the importance of soil stabilization and work to make sure your projects are solid and secure.
Varsity Inc. has been providing a full range of landscape related services to the Northeast commercial and industrial markets since 1974.