How to Frame for Footings and Foundations


A well-built foundation provides a solid, stable base for a home. Without it, the house could easily shift as the ground moves beneath it, causing major structural damage. A foundation begins with footings that extend beneath the frost line and support the walls and slab of the foundation. The footings and foundation are constructed by pouring concrete into wooden frames.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 1/2-ton excavator
  • Shovel
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Wooden stakes
  • 2-by-4-inch boards
  • Circular saw
  • Safety goggles
  • Nails
  • 1-by-4-inch boards
  • Dig a hole for the foundation with a 1 1/2-ton excavator. Go below the frost line to prevent the foundation from being damaged by the ground freezing and thawing. Contact your local zoning board to learn how deep this is in your area, but it can range from a few inches in the southern U.S. to several feet in the northern U.S.

  • Dig a trench around the perimeter of the foundation hole that is about 6 inches deep. Make the trench for the footers at least twice as wide as the foundation walls, plus about 12 inches to provide space to work inside the trench.

  • Construct the frame for the footings by driving wooden stakes into the ground every 3 feet on both sides of the trench and about 6 inches away from the trench walls. Stack two rows of 2-by-4-inch boards on edge, and nail them to the inner edges of the stakes. Measure and cut 1-by-4-inch boards to fit across the footings, and nail them to the top of the form every 3 feet to provide additional support for the form as the concrete is poured.

  • Hammer wooden stakes into the ground every 3 feet around the outer edge of the foundation hole (above the footer trench), and nail two 2-by-4-inch boards on edge to the stakes so they face inside the hole. This is the form for the foundation. The concrete will be poured into the footer form, and after it has cured the footer framing will be removed, and then the slab for the foundation will be poured.

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