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5 Types of Soil Tests for Construction
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5 Types of Soil Tests for Construction

Soil testing plays a vital role in residential, commercial, and all forms of construction as it determines the suitability of a location and helps architects, contractors, and building project managers in designing a solid foundation. When working with reputable companies like Terradyne to perform soil reporting services, you can trust that your project, no matter the scale, can be built to exacting standards that are up to code, safe, and long-lasting.

Here are five types of soil tests our geotechnical engineers commonly use in construction, along with their importance and a brief explanation of how each is performed.

Moisture Content Test

This test measures the amount of water present in the soil, which directly affects its physical properties and behavior. It is crucial to determine the optimal moisture content for compaction and to assess the soil's ability to retain water.

From there, geotech engineers may partner with environmental engineering departments to perform environmental due diligence testing and help your design and contracting team develop reasonable and safe building solutions to maintain structural integrity and stability.

Atterberg Limits Tests

These tests, including the Liquid Limit, Plastic Limit, and Shrinkage Limit tests, assess the soil's consistency and determine its behavior under different moisture conditions.

The Liquid Limit test measures the moisture content at which the soil transitions from a liquid to a plastic state. The Plastic Limit test determines the moisture content at which the soil becomes less plastic and more brittle. The Shrinkage Limit test measures the moisture content at which the soil undergoes the most significant volume change.

These tests help in classifying the soil and understanding its engineering properties. Knowing these different limits, the times of the year they occur, and how they may change over time allows your construction teams to plan accordingly and verify that the materials selection for your project will be adequate.

Proctor’s Compaction Test

Compaction testing helps determine the maximum dry density and optimal moisture content at which a soil type can be compacted to achieve its highest level of compaction. It involves compressing soil samples at varying moisture contents and measuring the resulting density.

The test helps evaluate the soil's compaction characteristics, crucial for designing stable foundations and structures. When selecting concrete, steel, and other load-bearing materials, how they sink or not in the soil can determine the height and size of your building. Consider using construction materials testing services to ensure the materials chosen are correctly manufactured and installed to meet the standards set in the compaction tests.

Specific Gravity Test

This test determines the specific gravity of soil, which is the ratio of the density of soil solids to the density of water. It helps in calculating important soil parameters such as void ratio, degree of saturation, and unit weight.

The test involves comparing the weight of a given volume of soil solids to the weight of an equal volume of water.

Through this test, engineers and construction professionals can gain insights into the soil's behavior and characteristics. This information is essential for various aspects of construction, including designing stable foundations, evaluating soil compaction, and understanding the soil's overall stability and load-bearing capacity.

Shear Strength Test

Strength testing evaluates the soil's resistance to shear stress and its ability to bear loads before undergoing shear failure. It involves applying gradually increasing stress to a soil sample and measuring the corresponding strain. The test is crucial for assessing the stability of slopes, designing foundations, and determining the bearing capacity of soil.

If the soil can’t bear the weight of your building or if you’re cutting into a slope that could move your building over time, you have a problem. Testing the soil’s strength, so to speak, will indicate what types of materials or designs your foundation needs to have to stay stable for as long as possible.

Start With a Solid Foundation From Terradyne Geotech Engineering

By working with Terradyne to conduct these soil tests, your construction professionals can gather valuable information about soil properties, enabling them to make informed decisions and ensure the safety and durability of structures.

With nearly 30 years of experience performing these tests and adapting them to the most current technological developments, our labs in Texas and Colorado have helped progress the construction industry with safer and more complete building recommendations. See the large and small undertakings our team has made possible in our project portfolio.

Your construction goals bring value to your community, so don’t settle for subpar soil reports. Check out our testimonials to learn how we’ve created solid foundations with clients since 1995.

Then contact us to get started on your unique project!

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