Choosing Appropriate Pile Types: Factors to Take Into Consideration


A pile foundation is meant for the transfer and distribution of load through a stratum that has an inadequate bearing and sliding to a stronger stratum. Piles come in many kinds catering to different applications that have different structural requirements and soil types.

Common Kinds of Piles

  • Steel H-piles. Steelh piles can have many benefits over other kinds of piles. The high axial working capacity they can offer can exceed 400 kips. They are available in different lengths and sizes. Handling, splicing, and cutting off steel H-piles may be easy. Steel H-piles can penetrate obstacles efficiently with less pile damage.
  • Steel pile piles. These steel piles may offer more than 1, 000 kips of load capacity. They are usually more difficult to install than H-piles since closed-end piles tend to displace more soil. Steel pipe piles are easy to handle, splice, and cut.
  • Precast concrete piles. Often, these piles are pre-stressed to withstand stresses during driving and handling. They may have at least 500 kips axial load capacity. Often, concrete piles are durable and can resist corrosion. But durability can be an issue for these piles when they are used in some salt water applications.
  • Cast-in-place concrete piles. These concrete shafts are made in thin shell piles. They can offer a load capacity of 200 kip. Their main benefit over other types of piles is the ease of changing length.
  • Mandrel-driven piles. These piles can offer a capacity of up to 200 kips. Their main benefit is lower steel costs.

Choosing the Right Kind of Pile

When it comes to piles, it is important to consider the following:

  • Load capacity. Pile spacing and individual pile capacity must be considered to determine a pile foundation’s capacity. The piles’ load lateral resistance may also be an important consideration because a pile can be subjected to high bending stress due to lateral loads.
  • Piles that can easily sustain damage during hard driving may not penetrate gravel and boulder zones. During construction, driving vibrations or soil disturbances may damage adjacent structures or piles.
  • Describing the performance of the pile foundation can be done based on structural displacements. The load capacity must not degrade eventually as the pile material degrades.
  • Piles should be available in the required lengths. If necessary, they should be cut off or spliced.
  • Evaluating the cost of piles must include all expenses associated with or depending on the pile foundation. These may include storage or splicing costs. Also, a comparative cost estimate must include the necessary structural changes to accommodate the piles.