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What is Foundation Piling?

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

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Foundation piling is the method used by construction experts to set a deep foundation for structures such as for houses, buildings, bridges, or towers, making them sturdier and better equipped for distributing load.

Utilizing different methods and materials for piling, foundation piling experts are able to customize the foundation based on the specific needs of the project, considering factors such as soil condition, load of the superstructure, and the groundwater table. Check out our main foundation piling services page for more information, or give our team a call directly today at (920) 582-4114.

The Technique of Foundation Piling

The technique involved in the process of foundation piling includes inserting long, cylindrical piles deep into the ground to reach the ground below the weak surface layers.

By sinking these piles into the soil, the load of the superstructure is effectively transferred down to the more stable soil or rock layers beneath. This not only ensures the safety of the structure but also enhances its longevity.

The technique offers more flexibility than traditional foundation methods, as it can be adjusted to cater to various types of ground conditions and structural loads.

What is Piling?

Now, let's the answer the question, "what is piling?"

Piling is a ground engineering procedure used for when the surface soil’s stability is insufficient to support a structure. The process involves driving piles, which are long, slender, columnar elements made from materials like steel, concrete, or timber, deep into the ground until they reach the stable soil layers.

These piles act like a steady platform, transferring the load from the structure above to the strong, stable soil or rock strata below.

When to Use Piling Foundations in Construction?

You should use piling foundations in construction whenever the following 8 conditions are true:

1. High Groundwater Table

In areas where the groundwater table is high, traditional shallow foundations may not be feasible. Piling enables the transfer of loads to deeper, drier strata, circumventing the issue of water saturation.

2. Heavy Load of Superstructure

When a structure is particularly large or heavy, it may require additional support that can only be provided through piling. This ensures the stability and longevity of the construction.

3. Cost and Feasibility

In some instances, other types of foundations might prove costlier or not feasible due to ground conditions or access limitations. In such cases, piling offers a more practical solution.

4. Compressible Shallow Soil

If the soil at shallow depth is easily compressible and not capable of supporting the structural load, piles can be used to transfer loads to deeper, stronger soil strata.

5. Risk of Scouring

Structures located near river beds, seashores, or other waterways face the risk of scouring. Piles provide additional stability, anchoring the structure deep into the ground.

6. Proximity to Canals or Deep Drainage Systems

Close proximity to canals or deep drainage systems might disrupt the stability of a structure. Piling serves to ensure stability in such scenarios.

7. Poor Soil Condition

If soil excavation isn't possible up to the desired depth because of poor soil condition, piles can be driven to bypass weak soil strata, reaching stable layers beneath.

8. Difficulty in Keeping Foundation Trenches Dry

Lastly, piling is an effective solution when it's impossible to keep the foundation trenches dry through pumping or other measures.

Common Types of Foundation Piling

Each construction project is unique and demands a specific type of foundation piling. Some common types include:

End-Bearing Piles

End-bearing piles are columns that bypass weaker ground layers to rest on stronger soil strata or bedrock. These piles are engineered to bear the significant load of a structure by transmitting it through the pile to the stronger layer beneath. This design facilitates the foundation's stability by anchoring it to the most robust layers of the subsoil.

Friction Piles

Shaped like cylinders, friction piles rely on their entire length to disperse the load from a building into the surrounding soil. The load-bearing capacity of a friction pile is linked directly to its length, meaning that the pile can support more weight as it extends deeper into the ground.

Bored Piles

Installation of bored piles involves drilling a hole into the ground, which is subsequently filled with poured concrete. One major advantage of this pile type is its inherent stability, achieved as it is cast in situ. Owing to their installation process causing less vibration, bored piles are preferred for construction projects in urban settings.

Driven Piles

Requiring substantial force for their installation, driven piles are hammered deep into the ground. These piles are commonly used in foundations with non-cohesive soils or soils with high contamination levels, offering reliable support under challenging conditions.

Screwed Piles

Resembling large metal screws, screwed piles are installed using a similar rotating motion as regular screws when affixing to other surfaces like wood. They offer a unique and robust solution for ground anchoring.

Timber Piles

Having been utilized in construction for millennia, timber piles offer a traditional, yet efficient, method for foundation support. These piles are precast off-site and installed using the driving technique, offering a cost-effective, safe, and efficient solution for both temporary and permanent structures.

Steel Piles

Steel piles are installed using either impact or vibration hammers, enabling them to penetrate even sturdy soil and rock. These piles come in various diameters, allowing a tailored fit based on the specific load requirements of a project.

Concrete Piles

Mostly found in offshore construction projects like bridges, oil rigs, and floating airports, concrete piles are a modern and effective tool for supporting vertical structural loads and withstanding lateral wave loads. They are often deployed to stabilize complex terrains due to their strength and efficient load distribution properties.

For more information, read more information on the different types of piling foundations for construction work.

Foundation Piling FAQs

How many concrete blocks are in a foundation piling?

The number of concrete blocks in a foundation piling can vary greatly and depends on numerous factors such as the height, load, and design of the building, as well as the conditions of the soil. In many cases, piles are made entirely from concrete poured and set in place rather than from concrete blocks.

Is piling foundation good/useful?

Yes, a piling foundation can be incredibly useful in many construction scenarios. It's especially beneficial when the top layers of soil are weak or loose, as the piles can be driven to reach deeper, more stable layers. Piling foundations also allow for the construction of structures on sites with high groundwater levels and are effective for supporting structures with heavy loads. However, the usefulness of a piling foundation is dependent on the specific needs and conditions of each construction project.

What is the difference between a foundation piling and a pier?

Both foundation piling and piers are types of deep foundation, and while they serve similar purposes, there are differences in their structure and the way they transfer load. Foundation piling is typically a long, slender column that is driven deep into the ground, transferring load through both end-bearing and skin friction. On the other hand, a pier foundation, also known as a drilled shaft or caisson, is a cylindrical structure that is typically much wider than a pile and is constructed by drilling a large hole and filling it with concrete.

What are the disadvantages of piling?

While piling foundations have numerous benefits, they also have a few potential downsides. For one, they can be more expensive than other types of foundations due to the need for specialized machinery and skilled labor for installation. Also, piling requires a thorough geotechnical investigation before installation to ensure that the piles reach the necessary depth and are not affected by underground obstructions or adverse soil conditions.

Why Choose Radtke Contractors for Foundation Piling?

When it comes to foundation piling, look no further than Radtke Contractors! Our team has a wealth of experience when it comes to foundation piling and other construction services. You can trust our team to professionally assess your site's conditions and determine the best piling solution for your property.

Contact Radtke Contractors today for a foundation piling service!

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