Driving Piles


Driving piles is an essential part of construction and civil engineering projects. It involves heavy-duty tools pounded into the ground to stabilise infrastructure for larger buildings and bridges in urban settings as well as remote rural regions.

Understanding these techniques is important to both lay people curious about the building process, and professionals needing specific information on piling as part of their job training.

In this blog post, we will be exploring all things related to piles, such as types, installation methods, machinery used in pile driving etc., so you can gain a better understanding of how this critical process works.

Let’s dive into what makes pile driving so special!

Understanding Piling and its Importance

Piling is a technique used to drive piles into the ground below the surface level, forming stable and reliable foundations for construction projects. It involves driving or boring pile foundations in order to transfer loads from a building under construction.

There are various materials which have been commonly used for piling such as steel, pre-cast concrete, timber and bored piles. The selection of material for the piles depends on prevailing conditions like soil type and weathering effects.

For instance, steel piles are best suited when founding strata is granular while pre-cast concrete can be effective when encountering loose soils with many void spaces.

When it comes to installation of driven pile structures there are several methods available including impact driving, vibrodriving and pressing (jacking). Impacting is considered one of the most popular method among contractors due to its efficiency but depending on site condition other methods may also need consideration before taking final decision regarding suitable technique at hand.

Piling machines providing downward force onto pavement surfaces allow workers enough space underneath them to perform their jobs conveniently making entire process relatively easier than ever before regardless of crane operational features being variable at any given time moment at job site areas consequently benefiting operational planners significantly!

Types of Driven Piles

Piles are typically constructed from steel, pre-cast concrete, and timber depending on the application.


Steel piles are considered one of the most commonly used driven piles for large structures due to their high load-bearing capacity and performance in a variety of soil types. Steel piles come in many forms, including steel screw piles, which have a cast iron helix and are rotary driven into the ground, as well as H-piles and sheet piling.

Rigs equipped with pile drivers made specifically for steel can be used to drive them vertically through stubborn soils or horizontally into hard rock strata when high horizontal loads are expected.

When driving steel down into the ground it is important that it does not result in permanent deformation or crushing/spalling of concrete piles, while also ensuring that any timber components don’t split or broom upon impact.

As these materials have different capacities than other types of driven piles they should only be installed using displacement or replacement methods where appropriate. These methods involve either pressing the material straight below ground without disturbing soil particles around it (displacement), or digging it out entirely from its location before replacing with another substance (replacement).

Pre-cast concrete

Pre-cast concrete piles are an excellent option for deep foundation construction, as they offer superior durability and reliability compared to other kinds of driven piles. These high-strength prestressed concrete columns are designed to withstand driving stresses and can be reinforced for extra strength.

Precast piles come in either a square or octagonal section, depending on the ground conditions seen at the job site. Not only do pre-cast concrete piles drive easily into dense soil with minimal drilling required but they can also be loaded immediately after installation.

This makes them perfect for steel H-piles, that would take significantly longer to install due to their size and weight – precast is far more efficient when time matters! Plus their quality control standards ensure no surprises during installation or throughout its lifetime thanks to improved performance over metals such as timber which does not stand up well against corrosion damage out in the elements.


Timber-driven piles are a classic type of pile foundation that have been utilized in construction for centuries. They are used to create a stable base for erecting any structure, particularly in weak or compressible soils.

Timber piles consist of natural material, such as wood or logs, which come in varying species, size, straightness and strength. When driven into the ground using various techniques like hammers—manually or mechanically—timber piles act as anchors by increasing the bearing capacity and stiffness of the soil.

Their effectiveness largely depends on factors such as quality of timber as well as their installation process being properly maintained but also has its drawbacks including limited use in open-ended construction sites due to vulnerability against weather conditions.

Pile Installation Methods

Driven piles can be installed using various methods, including impact driving, vibrodriving and pressing (jacking). Learn more about the merits associated with each individual method of pile installation in this blog post.

Impact driving

Impact driving is an onshore method of piling used to drive piles into the ground. This method uses impact hammers powered by steam, air, or diesel to transfer energy directly to the pile and sink it into the soil.

It creates a high frequency shockwave that works at higher force capability compared with vibratory hammers. The impulse energy enables rapid penetration of even hard soils, leading to faster installation time and less disruption in construction projects.

Additionally, impact driven piles are less likely to be disturbed by vibrations because there is no vibration associated with this process. Furthermore, this method transfers more power per blow than other methods such as vibrating or pressing (jacking).


Vibrodriving is one of the common methods used in pile installation and involves using vibrations to drive piles into the ground. This method has various advantages such as dynamic displacement resistanceshear strength improvement, and minimised disturbances on sandy sites when combined with other techniques.

Different vibratory driving systems are applicable for both retaining and bearing piles; these include impact drivers, vibrodrivers, and jacking systems. Vibrations generated from this process can cause seismic effects around the area where it is performed – resulting in possible ground compaction or vibration nearby structures.

Hence precautionary measures should be taken to ensure safety for people or property during vibratory pile installations.

Pressing (Jacking)

Pressing (Jacking) is a method of pile installation that utilizes hydraulic rams to press piles into the ground. This form of pile driving is preferred in situations where vibration is an issue or needs to be minimized, as it does not have any significant impacts on the surrounding area.

The process involves using pre-formed piles which helps minimize noise during operation and jar settlement caused by the weight of the machinery used for installing piles. Pressing (Jacking) can also employ jetting-assisted sheet piling – a combination of jetting and either vibratory or jacking techniques – which uses water pressure to aid in driving sheets into place more quickly and effectively than traditional methods.

With hydraulic press-in equipment available, this type of process can provide powerful forces enough to drive centrifugal loads up to 40 tons at 4m/s per cycle with precision control over speed & depth.


Piling plays an essential role in the construction industry, providing foundational support for a variety of structures such as piers, bridges and buildings. The piles used are driven into the ground with heavy-duty machinery like pile drivers or vibrodrivers.

Drive piles come in various materials such as steel, pre-cast concrete and timber to provide structural support that is unique to each individual project. Piles can be installed by either impact driving or pressing (jacking), depending on the soil type and depth required.

The resistance provided by driven piles makes them ideal for use in deep foundations where strength is needed most at the base of a structure; this ensures stability regardless of external pressures like wind or seismic movements.

Pile driving will continue to play a crucial role in modern construction projects around the world — especially when dealing with difficult terrain — making it one of if not the most important element when building anything from homes to skyscrapers.

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