What Is Piling in Construction: 5 Facts About Pile Driving

Whether you don’t know much about the construction industry, or you’re seriously thinking about getting started on your path to becoming a construction worker, you might have heard the term piling.

What is piling in construction, and what is it used for? Is it needed for all construction projects, or simply a few of them? Who takes care of piling, and what type of equipment do they use?

To help you understand more, here are five facts to know about piling in construction:

1. Piling provides some much needed support for buildings of all sizes.

What exactly is piling in construction? Piling is the process of inserting piles into the ground to provide some stable and reliable support for a construction project.

Piles are usually long cylindrical structures made from concrete. When they get installed, they go through different layers of soil, until they reach a solid rock layer, or at least a solid and stable soil layer. Piles then serve as a deep foundation for the building to be erected, and will distribute the weight of the building’s structure evenly.

Piling can be used to support large skyscrapers and office buildings, bridges, viaducts, roads, and homes. Using a variety of pile drivers and equipment, they can help repair faulty foundations or reinforce weak structures. Smaller piles can also be installed to support a small shed in a backyard, or a similar project.

2. Piling is ideal when the soil doesn’t suit construction work.

Before a new construction project can begin, a lot of planning is necessary. The quality of the soil where the building or the bridge will be erected has to be assessed.

If the top layer of soil is solid, no additional support should be necessary, depending on the size and type of the construction project.

On the other hand, if the top layer of soil is weak or wet, the construction team will need to turn to piling to solve this problem. Without piling, any large building erected on weak soil would be in danger of collapsing, or slowly sinking into the ground.

3. There is more than one way to install piles.

Piles can be hammered into the soil by a pile driver. A pile driver, which looks like a crane, is a piece of equipment designed to lift up a heavy weight above a pile, and to release the weight so it can hit the pile, and drive it into the ground.

This operation is repeated until the pile has reached a solid layer into the ground, and can’t go any further. Hammering piles into the ground produces a lot of noise and vibrations, which can disturb people living or working in an area where piles are being installed.

Helical piles, which are also called screw piles, are piles that are drilled into the ground instead of being hammered. Since they displace less soil than hammered piles, helical piles have a lower environmental impact. They are also easier to install, and can allow workers to complete a project faster.

Other types of piles, called micro piles, produce less noise and vibrations. To install these piles, the ground is dug, and the piles are lowered into the hole. Some concrete can then be poured between the piles and the earth, to secure them in place. The type of piles to be used depends on different factors, including the nature of the construction project, and the area where it has to be completed.

4. Piling requires skills are well as the right equipment.

Not every construction worker can work on a project as a pile driver operator. It’s not enough to have the right pile driver, and to know how to use it. Pile driver operators need to acquire a certain amount of skills and knowledge, and learning the trade in a formal apprenticeship will take four years.

Someone who wants to train to become a pile driver operator should have some related work experience, if possible. A career as a construction worker, a mechanic, or an operator of heavy equipment can prove helpful.

A construction project requires plenty of careful planning, measuring, and hard work. Pile driver operators are among the first workers to start working on a new construction site, and the success of the whole project depends on the quality of their work, and on their ability to respect deadlines.

5. Piles are not always made from concrete.

Piles are often made from concrete, but this isn’t always the case. Some projects can be reinforced with timber piles, which can be more affordable than concrete piles. However, wooden piles can decay or rot if they are left untreated.

Some structures are built on timber piles that are located below the grounwater level, where the lack of oxygen allows them to avoid rotting and to become extremely durable.

Piles can also be made from steel, iron, or an assemblage of concrete and steel. Plastic piles made from PVC or polymer composites can also be used in some environments, such as marine environments.


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