The Pros and Cons of Steel Piling

Every piling company will offer a range of materials to suit the needs of your project! The most common raw materials used in piling are timber, concrete, plastic, and steel, each with its own variations and techniques with distinct advantages and disadvantages depending on the endeavour. For example, notable benefits of using wooden piles are its relative inexpense and ease of adjustment, but these also carry the disadvantages of being easily damageable and prone to rotting.

Steel piling is undoubtedly the most permanent and secure method of setting your deep foundations, but it too comes with unique pros and cons which any project manager should consider carefully before deciding to go with steel piles. Let’s take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of using steel piling for your deep foundations.

Pro: Steel can bear the most weight

It’s no secret that of the materials listed here, steel outperforms the others in sheer strength. This is not to say that concrete, wood and plastic piles can’t support extreme loads, but none of these materials can match the strength of steel.

Pro: Steel piles are easily adjustable and come in many varieties

Steel piles are made in the form of thick pipes or girders which come in a plethora of cross-sections. This gives you complete freedom over the shape you use; the cross section of the pile can be chosen specifically to best fit the terrain and density of the earth. Steel piles are also relatively easy to cut to desired length, unlike precast concrete piles. Steel can also be bolted or spliced together without sacrificing too much strength.

Pro: Can be driven through tough layers and will displace less earth

Due to their superior strength, steel piles can be driven through firm earth and rock layers without fear of causing damage. The slim cross-section of steel piles is perfect for reducing the level of earth displacement, resulting in firmer earth surrounding the piles and more reliable foundations.

Con: Steel is the most expensive material

Steel is simply more expensive than the other options available, due to its more labour-intense creation and transport. This much is true especially in timber-rich areas where wood is much easier and more economical to source.

Con: Steel is likely to suffer damage from corrosion and electrolysis

In areas with high levels of ground water or with low soil PH, the chance for corrosion, oxidisation and electrolysis to occur in steel is significantly heightened. There are techniques for reducing the risk of deterioration, such as encasing them in concrete. This method allows you to maintain the core strength of the steel without the risks associated with corrosion.

Con: Steel requires a high level of care when driving

Due to their narrow shape and weight, steel piles can easily diverge from their intended angle of entry whilst being driven into the earth. While driving extra care must be taken to avoid the piles becoming misaligned and to not displace unnecessary earth during the process.

There are significant pros and cons behind every potential material and method for piling and the right one for your project will depend on the terrain, type of earth and the planned construction itself. As the best piling company in Manchester, Rhino Piling conducts a full evaluation of the site and soil before every project begins, so you know the materials we opt for are the very best for your foundations! Get in touch today to learn more!