Topsoil and earthworks excavation: the main differences

September 20, 2023

In the construction industry, before proceeding with the construction of buildings, structures and masonry work, it is essential to perform excavations: through this operation, in fact, pre-existing rocks, soil and vegetation are removed, with the aim of preparing the ground for the construction of foundations.

There are different types of excavations. Even today much confusion revolves around their peculiarities and differences: this is precisely why it can be difficult to distinguish between terms such as “topsoil excavation” and “ earthworks excavation.” In this article we will clarify what these activities refer to, how they differ, and how they can be performed efficiently and safely.

What is an excavation and how can it be classified?

In the field of construction, the term “excavation” refers to any activity that involves the removal of rocks, soil and plant debris from a piece of land. The purpose of this operation is to prepare the soil for building the foundation of a masonry structure.

Excavations in construction can be divided into: open excavations and excavations that take place inside tunnels or culverts. In the former case, we refer to splat excavations and earthwork excavations. Excavations in tunnels, on the other hand, involve activities concerning the construction of railroad or highway tunnels, aqueducts and sewers: these operations are preferred if it is not possible, for technical-economic reasons, to operate in the open air.

What are the differences between topsoil excavation and earthworks excavation?

Topsoil excavations are operations related to a large excavation on level ground. Generally, they involve the removal of vegetation and are developed no more than 6 inches deep in the ground.

Construction excavations, on the other hand, include all those activities that modify the natural course of the ground and are more intense than splatation. In fact, the finished work has a depth of at least 3 meters from the original elevation. It is with these excavations that there is a greater focus on rock removal and soil transport.

Why are these terms often and erroneously used synonymously? Topsoil and construction excavation have in common that they work over a much larger area of soil than the depth of the excavation. However, as we have seen, the type of working is different.

How to increase efficiency in splat work?

Earthmoving machines are specially made to perform excavations in construction efficiently, increasing productivity and taking less time. In order to become the best support in these types of work, they must be designed with 4 fundamental aspects in mind: 

    • – Ergonomics. Operator comfort and health are essential factors in making sure that the operator can work for extended periods of time without experiencing fatigue or discomfort. That’s why, in addition to choosing a wheelbarrow with an operator platform, it is essential to have innovative anti-vibration systems: they will cancel out the shocks produced by rough and uneven terrain and ensure that the operator always feels comfortable.
    • – Robustness. In the construction industry, it is essential to pay attention to the materials from which excavators are made: under these circumstances suffering shocks, blows and scratches is very common. A construction excavation machine with a solid structure and first-rate materials not only conveys greater safety, but also ensures greater durability. For these reasons and to make movement smooth, even on uneven terrain, it is preferable to choose a tracked vehicle: in this way, strength is combined with speed of execution and movement, greatly facilitating digging activities.
    • – Safety. The excavator must be developed in accordance with the most stringent European regulations concerning worker safety: the operator can feel serene and work better in all working conditions. Then there are additional elements that can increase the safety level of the machine: for example, the possibility of activating indicator lights to be more visible in cases of darkness or scarcity of light.
    • – Versatility. To cope with the countless activities that characterize construction sites, the wheelbarrow should be equipped with a wide range of different attachments and set-ups. The Quick&Attack system from Cormidi, an Italian company that specializes in earthmoving and topsoil machines, allows the excavator to be configured according to the individual needs of the moment. This simultaneously results in a smaller footprint and greater efficiency.

In conclusion

Topsoil excavation involves shallower excavations than earthworks and generally refers to the removal of vegetation from the ground. This phase is essential for laying the groundwork for further excavation and/or for preparing soil suitable for future construction. This is why equipping oneself with machines designed specifically for this kind of activity is essential.

Cormidi’s dumpers combine attractive design with unprecedented efficiency: safety, ergonomics, versatility and sturdiness combine in an innovative machine, a viable and reliable support for those who work on construction sites and carry out more or less deep excavations. Would you like to know in detail the features of our machines? Contact us and touch the innovativeness with which we make our products.