What is Piling | Everything You Need to Know About Piling

What is Piling?

Piling refers to the installation or construction of structural piles deep into the ground to support any superstructure. Piles are the most commonly used foundation method for mega projects such as bridges, dams, skyscrapers, etc., due to their immense bearing capacities. Piles can also anchor the building firmly into the ground against lateral forces, such as earth quacks, wind load, tornados, etc.

Evolution History of Piling

Pile foundations can find their tracks to almost 4000 BC in Switzerland, where the oldest pile-supported structure was found. For as long as history can go, pile foundations have been found to be an effective foundation method. The oldest material for pile foundations is known to be timber. However, advancements in technology have revolutionized the piling process altogether. Let’s take a look at the history of VGB Alley, one of the best piling contractors in Essex.

The Romans utilized stones and timbers to support their heavy structures, such as bridges and aqueducts. They also used piles to support their iconic amphitheatre, known as the Colosseum, in the first century AD.

In the Middle Ages, piling was commonly used for several types of heavy structures, such as castles and cathedrals. These piles were made of timber and were driven into the ground using heavy hammers.

The 19th century crafted more sophisticated piles due to the introduction of new materials such as steel and concrete. It also introduced steam-powered pile-driving machines to achieve more depth and support heavier building loads than ever.

The 20th century introduced highly powerful and efficient piling equipment outfitted with hydraulic pile drivers to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the foundations. It also allowed us to achieve increased depths and build higher-than-ever buildings.

What are the Different Types of Piles?

There are two main types of piles according to their principal of working:

Friction Piles

Also known as floating piles, these piles utilise the friction between their surface and the soil particles to transfer loads to the soil. They are a type of driven piles and are inserted into the ground in a way that they compact the adjacent soil and create a strong bond to tightly lock themselves to the soil. They are suitable for areas where a strong soil stratum lies at unachievable depths or the groundwater tables are high.

End bearing Piles

End-bearing piles use the resilient bedrock or other soil stratum to transfer the loads of the superstructure to the ground. They are called end-bearing piles because they receive the load at one end and transfer it to the ground through the other end. Unlike friction piles, they do not transfer the loads through their surface area. They are usually constructed where the resilient stratum is found at achievable depth.

What are the Methods of Construction?

Driven Piles

In this method, specialised piling rigs and equipment are used to inject pre-cast structural piles into the ground. This method is particularly helpful when the soil is not compact enough to hold the superstore firmly in place. These piles compact and densify the soil as they are driven deeper into the ground.

Bored Piles

This method is used to construct cast in-situ piles up to the resilient soil stratum underneath the surface. This method uses specialised boring equipment to drill the hole into the ground and construct piles. This method is particularly suitable for urban construction and restricted access piling.

Different Materials for Piles

Generally following four types of materials are used for piling.

  • Timber
  • Concrete
  • Steel
  • Composite Materials

Multidimensional Applications of Piling

Piling has multidimensional applications all over the globe. Some of them are as follows:

  • Bridges and Overpasses to provide stability against hydraulic forces and transfer heavy dead and live loads
  • Retaining Walls to keep the soil stable against heavy lateral pressure of water or soil.
  • Wharves and Ports provide a solid and strong foundation against severe loads of heavy equipment.
  • Offshore Structures anchor them firmly into the soil and keep them stable against hydraulic forces such as waves, current and wind forces.
  • High-rise buildings minimise the risk of uneven and unforeseen settlement and provide structural stability against heavy wind and seismic forces.
  • Infrastructure Projects such as tunnels, railways, underground structures and highways provide stability and support against heavy loads.
  • Seismic Zones to ensure adequate resistance against high lateral forces of an earthquake in earthquake-prone areas.
  • Slope Stability to reinforce slopes and provide enough stability to prevent land-slides.
  • Remedial and Retrofitting Projects to strengthen the pre-existing foundations through underpinning.

Mini Piling Essex is an experienced and well-known contractor with a team of highly experienced engineers that provides piling and mini-piling services. Visit our website to learn more about us.


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