The Basics of Sheet Piling

Piling is a system of deep foundation installation done by inserting long supports, or piles, into the ground to support the foundations of a construction project or existing structure. This can be done in a variety of ways; the piles can be driven into the ground, or a hole can be bored in advance. Even screw piles exist with a helical shape that can be screwed directly into the earth!

Uses for Sheet Piles

Sheet piling works by using long sheets in place of thin poles to replace the piles in foundations. Sheet piles are most often used to provide a support wall, or prevent water damage. The benefit of sheet piles is that they can be left in place and used as interior walls, especially in basements or other subterranean levels. Sheet piles are also used to hold back water, sand, or other loose earth, to protect the construction workers from harm and the foundations themselves from damage or erosion.

Types of Sheet Piles

  • Anchored Sheet Piles

Anchored sheet piles are subjected to stress against the anchor to remove slack before insertion, so they cause less displacement and won’t disturb the integrity of soil as much. These can stay in place until creep occurs.


  • Cantilever Sheet Piles

Usually used for depths of six meters or less, cantilever imbedded retaining walls can be used as temporary retaining structures or permanent pile walls, depending on the needs of the project.


  • Cofferdams

Cofferdams are used during the construction of bridges to keep water and mud out of the excavation. Cofferdams are temporary dams that allow a site to stay dry for the duration of the project.

Advantages of Sheet Piling

  • Lightweight and easy to install.
  • Always made from steel and therefore recyclable.
  • Easy to create to custom sizes.
  • Can be spliced together to create strong and durable corner joints.
  • Requires little maintenance.

Disadvantages of Sheet Piling

  • Difficult to install in rocky areas because sheet piles cannot be installed around large rocks or boulders easily.
  • Can create loud disturbances in residential areas if installed with vibratory or impact hammers.
  • Sheets are usually used as temporary retaining walls, which means they can come with a costly removal process after the construction project is complete.