What Is Piling in Construction?

Piling in construction has been around…well since buildings have been around! In fact, think of the great pyramids being built in the desert on sand – was the ground stable enough to support the massive weight from all those large stones? Modern piling, including h-piles and pipe piles would no doubt have been a benefit to the workers and engineers involved in the project. With that in mind, let us explore what piling is in construction.

When is Piling Used in Construction?

Piling is used in the construction of buildings, bridges and other projects when the soil at the job site isn’t able to support the weight necessary for the structure at shallow depth. Therefore, piling is used for these “deep foundation” ventures to ensure the framework of the building, bridge, etc. is supported both above ground and underground.

When utilized, piling is driven into the ground until it hits bedrock. At this point, the pile can safely and securely support the weight of what is above ground. In general, for the pile to be driven efficiently, it is often complimented with various attachments such as conical points. These attachments are welded to the end of the pile based upon the design needs of the contractor or Geotechnical engineer in charge of the job.

How is Piling Driven Into The Ground?

Unlike structural steel, where you typically tilt a beam or tube up or down to construct the format of a complex, piling is driven into the ground with a pile driver. Much like when you take a hammer to nail something into a wall, the pile driver uses, in most cases, a hydraulic hammer to place the pile into the ground. Depending on the soil type, more or less force is used to drive it properly into the ground.

Using a pile driver and steel piling has many benefits at both the construction site and for the environment. This includes:

  • Piling is the go-to choice for most deep foundation projects for its minimal disruption to the land and less invasive building method techniques.
  • Steel piles reduce time at the job site with fast installation and a trusted method for installation.
  • As one of the most recyclable materials in the world, steel can be recreated into thousands of products throughout its life cycle.

What Types of Piling is Available in the Construction Industry?

There are three steel piling types most used in the industry. These are:

  • H-Piles: Provides a better weight distribution over a wider area. This helps to support heaver, larger structures such as bridges and skyscrapers.
  • Pipe Piles: The round shape of the pile allows it to be driven capped or uncapped and filled with a stiffening agent such as concrete. Once driven, the pile remains in place due to friction with the soil.
  • Sheet Piling: Sheet piling, sometime referred to as steel sheet piling or “Z Piles”, are long, structural sections designed to create a continuous wall.

Additional Deep Foundations Resources

If you have additional questions on what piling is in construction, there are numerous resources available for you:

  • Deep Foundations Institute: The DFI is the leading advocate for the deep foundations industry, promoting the advance of deep foundations through technical programs and research.
  • Pile Driving Contractors Association: The PDCA focuses on all aspects of pile driving.
  • Engineer’s Society of Western Pennsylvania the ESWP has been involved with promoting deep foundations through their annual International Bridge Conference that brings in thousands of global engineers each year.
  • The Geo institute at the American Society of Civil Engineering: The ASCE G-I focuses on Geo-professionals in the Geo-industry.
  • Contractors Steel: Although we are new to the game, Contractors Steel is your go-to source when you need piling products and fabrication services. Discover how at Contractors Steel we are Driven to Support!