A Closer Look at Pile Foundations

Pile foundation is necessary when there isn’t sufficient soil bearing capacity for the structure to be able to withstand.  It is caused by the condition of the soil or operational conditions, conditions at the site, load types on the foundations or order of the bottom layers.

There are many different factors that can prevent a surface foundation being selected as a well-suited foundation, such as intensity of loads and nature of the soil.  We use piles for building in water such as dams and bridges or where soil has low bearing capacity.

There are two components that make up a pile foundation: a group of piles or single pile and the pile cap.  The load from structures are transferred by piles to the soil that has hard bearing capacity, rocks or hard strata.  They are slender and long, with a length that may exceed 15m.

Piles are made out of steel, wood or concrete, depending on what the requirements are.  The piles are then jacked, drilled or driven into the ground.  They are then connected to the pile caps.  The classification of pile foundations is based on the piles load transmitting characteristic, type of soil and the material used in the pile construction.

Pile foundations have been used as load transferring and load carrying systems for a number of years.  In the early days, they used timber piles.  They were driven into the ground manually or holes were dug and then filled with stones and sand.  Since the 19th century steel piles have been used, and since the 20th century concrete piles have been used.

With the industrial revolution and changes in technology, many advanced systems for pile driving have been developed from diesel and steam pile driving machines being invented.

Pile foundation usage continues to increase due to the lack of available land for construction.  Multi-storied, heavy buildings are being built, and the loads from the structures can’t be transferred directly to the ground because of the issue of low bearing capacity as well as stability issues with the building when lateral load is being applied.  So the demand for pile foundations continues to increase.  This high demand has resulted in many improvements being made to piles as well as pile driving systems and technology.  There are numerous advanced pile installation techniques available these days according to UK screw pile foundations provider Ground Sun.

Pile Foundation Function

Like other foundation types, the purpose of a pile foundation is to:

  • Transmit the loads of the building to the ground soil layers and foundations whether the loads are inclined or vertical.
  • Install cohesion less and loose soil through vibration and displacement.
  • Control the settlements.  Surface foundations can accompany it.
  • Increase the safety factor for heavy load buildings.