Above-Ground vs. In-Ground Truck Scale Foundation—Which Is Best for You?

an american scale installation with the truck scale foundation being put into pplace

Above-Ground and In-Ground Truck Scale Foundation Types: Which Is Best for You?

Truck scale foundations are just as important as the truck scale itself. The type of truck scale you install (and how well you install it) can affect a truck scale’s performance, as well as overall safety. A truck scale foundation can be categorized into two broad categories: above-ground and in-ground. Each type presents pros and cons affecting the installation process, maintenance, and lifespan of a truck scale.

At American Scale, we are proud to offer a wide variety of scale-related products and services, including the installation of truck scales. First, though, to help you understand the importance of truck scale foundations, let’s examine the differences between above-ground and in-ground foundations.

The Importance of Truck Scale Foundations

Truck scale foundations are important, as they determine the lifespan of the scale. The lowest load-bearing part of the scale, the foundation, must be properly installed and used to provide accurate weight readings. Any improper use or issues with installation, no matter how minor, can lead to scale wear and tear, inaccurate readings, and reduced safety. 

On the other hand, truck scales can optimize your business when installed and used properly, ensuring proper invoicing while maximizing revenue.

Today, most large vehicle scales are installed in one of two ways: above-ground or in-ground (i.e., in a concrete pit with slab foundations). Truck scales can also be installed in a shallow pit today.

Foundation: Should You Put Your Truck Scale in the Ground or Above It?

Truck scales are installed either above-ground or in-ground, with several designs available for each. To better understand how truck scale foundations work, let’s determine what in-ground and above-ground truck scales are.

Above-Ground Truck Scale

Just as the name implies, an above-ground truck scale has a foundation that is installed above the ground. Above-ground foundations are the most popular type of truck scale foundation.

Above-ground truck foundations have several pros and cons.


  • More Cost-Effective – Above-ground truck scale foundations are often more cost-effective as they do not require a pit and therefore require less construction.
  • Easier To Repair – Above-ground truck scale foundations are easier to access, making repairs easier.
  • Easier to Clean and Inspect – This foundation can be easily cleaned with a hose or air compressor. To inspect it, you can simply walk around the perimeter of the scale.


  • Less Space-Effective – Above-ground truck scale foundations take up more space as these foundations require ramps.

In-Ground Truck Scale

In-ground truck scale foundations (sometimes referred to as “pit” foundations) utilize pits of different depths to submerge the scale belowground. Pit sizes and depths will depend on the scale type and topography. A minimum depth is always required, though, to enable workers to reach underneath the weighbridge.


  • Require Less Space – As in-ground truck scale foundations do not require ramps, they require less space.


  • Requiring Drains and Sump Pumps – Pit-type foundations require drain and sump pumps to remove water that accumulates within the pits.
  • More Difficult to Clean and Inspect – Cleaning in-ground truck scale foundations can be time-consuming, as these foundations must be cleaned manually. To inspect the scale, you must enter the pit.
  • More Susceptible to Rust and Corrosion – As water can accumulate within the pits, truck scales and related components are more vulnerable to rust and corrosion.
above ground vs in ground truck scale pros and cons comparison chart
above ground vs in ground truck scale pros and cons comparison chart

Truck Scale Foundation Designs

Truck scale foundations are available in several designs. Make sure, though, that whichever foundation you pick adheres to all federal, state, and local requirements

truck scale foundation designs 4 types
truck scale foundation designs 4 types

Floating Slab

floating slab truck scale foundation

The second-most-affordable type of foundation, a floating slab foundation consists of one large pour of concrete that runs the full length of the weighbridge.

Pit Foundation

pit truck scale foundation

Pit foundations are available in several depths, usually ranging from two to six feet.

Shallow Pier

shallow pier truck scale foundation

As shallow pier foundations require less excavation, these foundations are a cost-effective solution for your truck scale site. This foundation type is ideal for areas with firm soil and a warmer climate.

Deep Pier

deep pier truck scale foundation

Usually used in northern areas of North America, pit foundations are laid partially below the frost line to counteract the effect of freeze-thaw conditions within the soil.

Which Truck Scale Foundation Is Best For You? Factors to Consider

Front view of 3 parked semi's

To determine whether an above-ground or in-ground truck scale foundation is best for your facility, consider the following factors:

Site Location

What is the exact site location for the truck scale? How much room is required for the scale? Which industry or facility is the truck scale for? Consider the site and the immediate surroundings carefully. For example, be aware of any power lines, gas lines, sewer systems, etc.

Also consider site drainage, especially if you’re planning to install a belowground foundation. The site should allow for adequate runoff that will transfer water away from the scale.

Environment and Climate

Evaluate the slope and soil conditions where the foundation will be installed. A completely flat area with firm soil is ideal, but you should plan ahead in case the site needs to be leveled flat or you need to relocate to an area with better soil.

Consider the climate, as the elements can lead to further wear and tear of the scale and scale-related components. For example, a truck scale in the ground may not be the best choice in an especially rainy or snowy region.

Project Approval

Before any installation even begins, ensure that your facility has appropriate permits and is obeying all construction codes and any other regulations.


Consider the industry the scale is needed for. The cargo being weighed and site location can determine which type of truck scale is needed. Your industry may have its own guidelines or requirements for installation and truck scale type.

Truck Scale Installation: Choose American Scale for Your Truck Scale Foundation

An american scale truck scale installer standing in front of an above ground truck scale foundation weighing a truck

American Scale is here to handle all your truck scale needs. We provide rapid, one-day deployment, which includes completion of the truck scale installation and calibration of the scale. American Scale has a substantial rental inventory for most applications including heavy capacity scales for trucks and railroad scales. For any scale-related questions, reach out to us today! We can find the best solution for your facility.