piles vs. piers

How Long Does Foundation Repair Take? Pressed Piles vs. Drilled Piers

So how long does it take to do foundation repair anyway? With some kinds of repair contractors, it usually takes twice as long as they tell you it will. I’m looking at you, remodeling guys . . .

But really, how long does it take to repair a foundation? Like *real actual timeframes*, not just the sugar-coated ones contractors think you want to hear.

Anchor Foundation Repair

At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been repairing foundations in the Bryan, College Station, and Brazos Valley areas for over 35 years and can give you some no-nonsense ballpark numbers for the amount of time it takes to complete foundation repairs.

In this area, two methods of foundation repair are predominantly available: Pressed Piles and Drilled Piers. So we will compare the amount of time it takes to repair foundations with these two methods since that makes the most sense for those living around here.

We only use drilled bell-bottom piers for foundation repair, but we do know that pressed piles are faster to install than our product. We want to provide you with some general information to help you out, even if it means you might need to go with the faster option if that is the most important factor for you.

In this article, we compare how long it takes to repair a foundation using pressed piles vs. drilled piers and explain the steps of each process so you can see the difference and decide for yourself. *Ding ding* let the showdown begin . . .

Average Timing for Foundation Repair: Piles vs. Piers

how long does foundation repair in BCS take?

For the sake of simplicity, let’s talk about an average home foundation repair requiring 15 to 25 support locations. This means that either piles or piers will be installed at 15 to 25 spots under your home. They would all be at perimeter locations, meaning no support is needed under the inside of the home i.e. only under the edges of the home, not in the middle.

The more supports that are needed, the larger the home, or larger the damaged area, then the more time it will take for either method. If less than 15 supports are needed, then it could be less time as well. Everything centers on the number of piles or piers that need to be installed and how hard it is to access those spots.

The need for any interior support work will add significantly to both methods of repair, but we won’t talk about that too much right now since we are just doing simple comparisons. Only about 10% of homes need interior supports so interior work is also not in the majority of cases.

So let’s get right to it . . . for an average home needing 15 to 25 piles installed, the concrete pressed pile method of foundation repair should take about 3 to 4 days. Compare that to the amount of time it takes for the same number of supports using the drilled bell-bottom pier method of foundation repair, which takes from 3 to 4 weeks for the same 15 to 25 supports.

comparing pressed piles to drilled piers on installation time

Here’s you right now: Dang man, that’s a big difference! Well, you’re right . . . it IS a big difference. So, maybe we should explain the steps in each method so you can see where the differences are in each process.

Comparing Foundation Repair Work Phases: Piles vs. Piers

Different things are going on during the four basic phases of work using either pressed piles or drilled piers. Again, let’s get right to it . . . 

Work Phases for Pressed Pile Method of Foundation Repair

solutions for your Brazos Valley foundation

For Pressed Piles, here are the typical steps and average time a foundation repair crew will go through to repair your foundation:

  1. Site Preparation – ½ day
  2. Driving Pilings – 1 to 2 days
  3. Raising and Leveling – 1 day
  4. Finishing and Clean-Up – ½ day

So the total time, if you add it all together (don’t worry, I’ll do the math for ya . . . ), is around 3 to 4 days for foundation repair using concrete pressed piles.

Work Phases for Drilled Bell-Bottom Pier Method of Foundation Repair

For drilled piers, there are four basic steps in the repair process that your foundation repair team will complete to repair your home’s foundation.

  1. Pier Installation – 3 to 5 days
  2. Concrete Curing – 7 to 10 days *no crew on site during this phase*
  3. Raising, Leveling, and Mud Pumping – 2 to 3 days
  4. Finishing and Clean-Up – 1 to 2 days

So the total time for foundation repair using drilled bell-bottom piers is between 13 to 20 days to go through all four steps of the process. This translates to about 3 to 4 weeks since work is only being done on weekdays.

Side-by-Side Foundation Repair Comparison: Piles vs. Piers

Sometimes it helps to see things in a true visual *side-by-side* comparison. Here’s a graphic representation of the same information we covered above so that you can compare each work phase of one method right next to the corresponding work phase of the other method.

*Please note* that all times are average estimations and do not account for weekends and unexpected delays, which could happen with either method. These time estimates are based on an average-sized project needing 15 to 25 supports.

foundation repair in Bryan and College Station

Notice the significant chunk of time (at least 7 to 10 days or more for larger homes) for the drilled pier method where concrete is curing and no one is on site. This is an important waiting period for freshly poured concrete to dry and maximize the strength of the piers before the raising and leveling step.

Why the Timing Difference Between Foundation Repair Methods?

You’re probably wondering why there is such a big difference in how long foundation repair takes between the pressed pile method and the drilled pier method. Good thinking . . . nothing gets by you, does it?

Aside from the obvious difference of the 7 to 10 days of concrete curing time, there are a couple of major differences between the two methods making one take longer than the other.

Difference No. 1: Driving Pilings vs. Drilling Holes

drilled bell bottom piers for foundation repair

In the pressed pile method, cylindrical pre-cast concrete pieces are driven into the ground by hydraulics. They are just kinda rammed into the ground, no hole is drilled for the cylinders to be inserted into so it’s a quicker process.

In the drilled bell-bottom pier method, a shaft is drilled out and then a bell-bottom shape is cut into the ground at the bottom of the shaft. Drilling the hole takes longer and then the extra step of cutting the base shape out adds time too. Neither of these things is done for the pressed pile method.

Difference No. 2: Pre-Cast Concrete vs. Poured Concrete

Above I mentioned the pre-cast concrete cylinders used for the pressed pile method. These concrete pieces are already made in advance and brought to your home for the job. They are separate pieces that get placed one after the other into the ground under your house.

With a drilled pier, the concrete is poured on-site into each drilled hole to make one solid piece of concrete for the footing and the shaft of each pier.

The two differences above explain why it takes 1 to 2 days to drive pilings and 3 to 5 days to dig holes, drill down and cut the bell footing, and then pour concrete. Using premade materials and no drilling or “belling” make the pressed pile method take less time.

Difference No. 3: Mud-Pumping

After raising and leveling a home, space is created between the ground and the bottom of a slab-on-grade foundation. This void of space is not addressed by most foundation repair companies doing pressed piles or others that do drilled piers as it is not a required step of foundation repair. 

void under raised foundation

At Anchor Foundation Repair, we take steps to fill the void with more material to lessen the opportunity for more foundation settlement or foundation problems to arise. This also allows the foundation to rest in full contact with something underneath it that filled the empty space created by raising the home. 

As the name implies, mud-pumping is pretty much pumping liquid dirt (i.e. mud) back under the foundation that hardens into a more supportive dirt-like substance. Mud-pumping material is more resilient than plain ol’ dirt because it has Portland Cement added to it to give it more hardness and strength.

Mud-pumping adds time to the process because temporary pipes are placed to pump the material under your home and then the actual mud-pumping process and clean-up add time as well to that stage of the process. The pressed pile method skips mud-pumping altogether. The void is not filled under your home at all with that method so it does save some time.

More Comparisons in Foundation Repair Methods: Piles vs. Piers

We have only talked about the length of time to complete a job using the pressed pile method versus the drilled bell-bottom pier method. You are probably wondering if there are any other differences. You’re such a smart cookie because there ARE other differences that we can tell you about.

piles vs piers

At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have repaired thousands of homes in the Central Texas area since 1985. We know that there is no one method of foundation repair that is better than another, but one method that is a better choice to meet your needs. Our goal is to provide homeowners like you with enough impartial information to empower you to take charge of your home care decisions with confidence.

If you want to know more about the other important differences (and there are a bunch) between the pressed pile and the drilled bell-bottom pier methods of foundation repair, check out another “versus” article with “Bell-Bottom vs. Pressed Pile Foundation Repair Methods: What’s the Difference?”