Understanding Pipe Piling And Its Benefits

Understanding Pipe Piling And Its Benefits

Pipe piling has been growing in popularity and implementation by leaps and bounds since the late 1980s. A series of exhaustive tests were able to demonstrate how effective pipe piling is in load bearing, and thus use of pipe piling in the civil construction industry boomed. If your industry involves heavy loads or deep foundation structures, you need to know about pipe piling. This overview will explain the basics of how piling works and how it can be optimized for best results in civil construction and deep foundations.

The Basics

Pipe piles are a simple, easy to understand type of piling. A prebuilt steel pipe structure is driven into the ground, typically with large impact hammers. The piles remain in place primarily through friction with the soil. The pile designs will vary depending on the ground conditions and support expectations, enabling the pile systems to be adapted to any specific needs. Because they are made of steel, they can handle extremely heavy loads, and the right steels can make them virtually impervious to environmental conditions. Different options also allow clients to get the most effective materials for any pipe piles.

Types of Pipe Piling

While all of the different piling methods involve driving pipes, different soil conditions and structural needs lend themselves better to different types of pipe piles. Here is an overview of some of the most common:

  • Unplugged Open-Ended – These pipes are completely open ended. After installation the ground level should be the same inside and outside the pipe. They transfer their load to the soil primarily through friction.
  • Plugged Open-Ended – These have a plug on the bottom end of the pipe. This causes the soil inside the pipe to be a precise amount lower than outside the pipe.
  • Bottom Plate – This is one of two common plugged piles. In this case the a steel plate is welded to the lower end. The plate is intended to create compression and increase friction to reduce sliding. These are used on rocky terrain where a minimum layer of soil exists between the rock and the pile.
  • Steel Pipe with Rock Shoe – This is the other common plug. Rock shoes serve the same function as steel plates, but they are used when the pile comes directly in contact with a rock surface. The equipped shoe must be able to support the entire load, and it will prevent any sliding along the rocky surface.
  • Franki Pipe Pile – Franki piles are intended to be permanent. They are plugged with a moist concrete filling and can withstand much stronger driving impact than their counterparts.

Non-Pipe Piling

To really understand pipe piling, it helps to know more about their alternative methods. Most piles are concrete or steel, although wood is also used in some cases. Concrete piles are typically solid, and driving them into the soil can cause large displacement and vibrations. In other cases, the soil is excavated so the cement can be cast. The biggest contrast that this creates with steel pipes is in the foundations that can hold them.

Non-pipe steel piles are typically constructed with a series of H-shaped beams. These structures are applicable in many of the same conditions, so the biggest difference between the two is in cost. Pipe piles are more commonly used in pillar supports, where H-frames see prevalence in entirely steel structures, like oil platforms.

Common Benefits

For any structure that is expected to bear large loads, a deep foundation is absolutely necessary. Building the right structural support for deep foundations comes with many options, but steel pipe piles are the most customizable. Because they can be tailored to exact load specifications, costs can also be minimized. Pipe piles will prevent spending extra money on structural support, they are easier and less expensive to erect and they can be inspected and safety tested before installation. They are also among the easiest to add to after construction, and they suffer some of the lowest replacement costs, as they are not susceptible to cracking during the driving process.

Pipe piles have risen as one of the best options the industry has to offer in heavy load support when conditions allow them to be used. With proper expert guidance, clients can have these support systems fully optimized for cost and safety. STI Group provides the best materials, designers, and pile drivers and works closely with clients every step of the way to ensure that they get the best results from their pipe piling or other deep foundation.


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