End-Bearing Vs Friction Piles

Piling – using vertical supports to provide the load-bearing support for building foundations – has been around for thousands of years and in that time, has developed into a whole discipline in its own right. What started off as simply building homes on stilts has evolved to include myriad different types and applications depending on materials used or site conditions. Mini piling is one such innovation – using shorter piles allows them to be perfect for application in underpinning and reinforcement projects as well as being ideal for installation as remote sites or projects with little manoeuvring room. Here’s a quick lowdown on two commonly used types of piles: end-bearing and friction.

End-Bearing Piles

End-bearing piles support the weight, as the name might suggest, by bearing it on the end of the pile. These work by being driven through the softer upper layers of earth and topsoil and allowed to rest on harder, firm layers found underneath. The ideal solution for end-bearing piles is to have them rest on a layer of immovable rock. These piles work very simply – they transfer the weight of the construction through the piles to the layer of firm earth or rock – essentially working to bypass the softer layer as though the structure were built directly on a hard surface. End bearing piles can come in a variety of shapes from circular concrete to steel H-shaped girders.

Friction Piles

Friction piles (sometimes known as floating piles) work very differently to end-bearing piles. Rather than cut through soft soil to rest the weight on firmer layers down below, friction piles employ friction to disperse the weight load evenly throughout the surrounding soil, stretching the length of the pile. Friction piles are used when either no firmer layer of earth exists, or it is simply too economically unviable to reach. Friction piles are usually made from concrete or steel and are always circular to maximise the surface area and contact with the surrounding soil. The entire surface of the pile then transfers and disperses the weight and forces equally across its area.

Whether your construction project requires friction or end-bearing piles, with over a century of collective experience Rhino Piling has all the expertise needed for take on any piling project of any size. Get in touch today for a full on-site evaluation!