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How to choose type of pile foundation?

The types of pile along with their advantages and disadvantages and applications can be used to guide designer to choose the most appropriate type of pile for the given condition:

  • Driven pile
  • Driven and cast in place pile
  • Bored and cast in place pile

Selection of types of pile foundations

Fig.1: Selection of types of pile foundations

Driven Pile

To be able to select driven pile for any project, the applications, advantages, and disadvantages that such type of pile may offer should be known.

The most outstanding advantages of driven piles involves considerably long piles can be installed and it can be carried out specifically in marine structures.

Moreover, it has sufficient stability in squeeze ground, it is not affected by ground heave while neighboring piles are placed, the pile material can be examined and inspected before it is forced into the ground, and ground water does not influence the construction of driven piles.

As far as disadvantages of driven piles are concerned, strong driven might cause unobserved damages and possible severe deterioration that not only extend construction schedule but also increase construction cost.

Furthermore, driven piles cannot be installed in low headroom condition, end enlargement are not always beneficial, and vibrations and noises due to driving process could lead to damages.

Lastly, it is not cost effective when the amount of material in the pile is controlled by driving stress instead to permanent load stresses.

Driven Pile Foundation

Fig.2: Driven Pile Foundation

Driven and Cast-in-Place Pile

Similar to driven piles, it is necessary to outline and explain pros and cons of driven cast in place pile along with its applications.

The advantages of this type of pile involves construction of enlarged base form in certain types of driven and cast in place pile, the effect of ground water can be avoided due to a closed end tube that driven into the ground, and noises and vibrations of certain types of driven and cast in place pile could be reduced.

Another advantage is that the length of this type of pile can be changed according to the level of bearing stratum and driven or handling stress would not affect materials in the pile.

Regarding disadvantages of driven and cast in place pile, the length of the pile cannot be varied, and it might suffer waisting and necking in squeezing ground except if special considerations are practiced during concreting.

Moreover, structures at the vicinity of construction area are possible to experience damages and deterioration due to vibrations and noises that generated during construction.

Furthermore, it is neither suitable for substantially low head room condition nor it can be considered in the marine structure or in river unless special adaptation is considered.

Finally, ground displacement due to driven of pile could lead to adjacent green concrete damages, and it is not possible to examine concrete after the completion of construction process.

Construction of driven and cast in situ pile

Fig.3: Construction of driven and cast in situ pile

Bored and Cast-in-Place Pile

This type of pile foundation offers several advantages for instance considerably long pile can be installed, it can be driven in low head room situation, and large diameter piles can be utilized.

Moreover, soil that taken out from borings during construction can be inspected, sampled, or tested. Not only does the length of bored and cast in place pile can be changed to accommodate ground conditions but also it can be installed without generating much vibration and noise.

Regarding disadvantages of bored and cast in place pile, it is prone to necking in squeezing land, poured concrete can be examined, and enlarged end piles cannot be constructed unless special approached are employed.

Finally, washing out of cement due to water which is under artesian pressure, sinking piles in cohesionless soil could cause the settlement of neighboring buildings, and sandy soil and gravelly soil may be loosen and consequently the base of the pile should be grouted to stabilize the base of the pile.

Bored and cast in place pile

Fig.4: Bored and cast in place pile

How to choose type of pile in the same pile category?

After the type of pile has been determined, it is necessary choose suitable type of pile (timber, steel, concrete) in that pile category that has been selected.

There are various types and forms of piles in each three major piles. Guideline for the selection of pile type in each category are discussed.

  • Driven pile
  • Driven and cast in place pile
  • Bored and cast in place pile

Selection of Driven Pile

Driven piles can be constructed from timber, concrete, or steel. Table-1 can be used as a guideline to choose an appropriate type of driven pile.

Table-1: Selection of driven pile type based on their advantages and disadvantages and construction conditions

Types of driven pile Suitable condition Unsuitable condition
Timber driven pileSuitable option for temporary works or when the load is smallCannot be used when loads are large. It may suffer decaying if water level fluctuates, and it is not suitable for heavy driven since it may experience unseen splitting.
Concrete driven pileExtra reinforcement ration is needed to make the pile withstand driven force, it needs time after casting to obtain necessary strength and hence there is a gap between casting and driven, and it may suffer from unseen damage due to driven forces.Suitable for all loading conditions, it can withstand corrosive soils
Steel driven pileIt is suitable for all loading condition, it does not suffer damages due to driven forces, it can be extended and cut down. Considerable long driven pile can be used by welding on additional length.It is subjected to corrosion in marine condition above soil level and subsequently it needs protection, And long piles may go off the line during driving

Selection of Driven and Cast-in-Place Pile

Table-2 can be used to help in the selection of suitable type of driven and cast in situ pile

Table-2: Selection of driven and cast in place pile types based on their advantages, disadvantages, and construction condition

Types of driven and cast in place pile Suitable condition Unsuitable condition
Withdrawable tube driven and cast in place pileIt is cheaper compare with the other typeIt is not good option to use in water bearing sand and squeezing soil
Un-withdrawable tube driven and cast in place pileIt is suitable option for squeezing soil, water bearing sand, and when the pile needs driven after ground heave.It is more expensive compare with the other type of pile

Selection of Bored and Cast-in-Place Pile

Simple uncased mechanically augered pile is the cheapest type of bored and cast in place pile. This type of pile is suitable option in firm to stiff cohesive soil. The cost of pile increases when casing is placed and withdrawn, and slow ordinary boring technique is utilized.

Read More: Types of Piles Based on Load Transfer, Function, Material and Soil

About Madeh Izat HamakareemVerified

Madeh is a Structural Engineer who works as Assistant Lecturer in Koya University. He is the author, editor and partner at