When building a strong and durable foundation for your home, you might think of concrete as the go-to material. However, another option has been gaining popularity in recent years: permanent wood foundations (PWFs). While less common than concrete, PWFs offer a range of advantages that make them a viable choice for many construction projects. In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits and considerations of PWFs to help you make an informed decision for your next building project.

The Basics of Permanent Wood Foundations

PWFs are a system of treated lumber and plywood that replaces the traditional concrete foundation. They are constructed with pressure-treated wood specially treated to prevent decay and prohibit insect infestation. The wood used in these foundations is rated for ground contact, making it suitable for direct burial in the soil.

Advantages of Wood Foundations


One of the primary reasons people opt for wood foundations is cost savings. Wood is generally more affordable than concrete, and the construction process for wood foundations tends to be quicker and requires less labor. This can result in significant cost savings, particularly for smaller structures or in areas with easy access to wood products.


Wood foundations offer superior insulation properties compared to concrete. Wood naturally provides better thermal insulation, helping to regulate indoor temperatures and reduce energy consumption. Additionally, the typical 2×8 treated stud cavities in PWFs leave ample room for batt or spray foam insulation. This can lead to lower heating and cooling bills over time.

Environmentally Friendly 

Wood is a renewable resource, and when sourced responsibly, it can be an environmentally friendly choice. Additionally, wood foundations have a smaller carbon footprint during manufacturing compared to concrete, which involves more energy-intensive processes.

Design Flexibility

Wood foundations are highly customizable, allowing for various design options. Whether you’re building a traditional home or a cabin in the woods, wood foundations can be tailored to suit your architectural preferences.

Easy Repairs and Modifications 

In the event of damage or the need for modifications, wood foundations are easier to repair and alter compared to concrete. This flexibility can be a significant advantage if you plan to make changes to your structure in the future.

Considerations and Maintenance

While wood foundations offer many benefits, they also come with some considerations:

Moisture Management

Proper moisture management is crucial for wood foundations. A poly barrier and adequate crushed stone are placed around the exterior perimeter of the foundation before/during backfilling. Ensure final grading is “positive” and gutters and downspouts handle water from the roofline. For the interior, insulation and a vapor barrier to prevent condensation.

Local Building Codes 

Check local building codes and regulations to ensure that wood foundations are allowed in your area. Some regions may have specific requirements or restrictions.


Like all foundations, positive grading and water management (gutters) will keep your foundation warm and dry. The poly vapor barrier on the exterior of the foundation should be fully covered to prevent damage from lawn maintenance. To prevent delamination, any exposed exterior plywood must be protected from the sun’s rays with paint, siding, or similar covering.


Wood foundations may not be the first choice for every construction project, but they offer several compelling advantages, including cost savings, energy efficiency, environmental benefits, design flexibility, and ease of repair. If permanent wood foundations align with your goals, they can be a solid and sustainable choice, lasting the lifetime of your home or structure!