A Quick Introduction To Sheet Piling

If you have an interest in engineering or construction then you may already be familiar with the concept of sheet piling, but if you aren’t, we thought we’d give you a brief introduction to what is actually a huge part of modern-day life.

From seawalls to basements, sheet piling is used in the construction of many of the things we see all around us on a day to day basis. It’s a cost-effective and reliable method, and particularly useful in situations where you need to guard against water or retain soil.

So, if you’d like to learn a little more about what exactly sheet piling is and how it helps us in our everyday lives, read on for a quick introduction.


What is sheet piling?

Sheet piling essentially involves corrugated sheets of material, usually metal or vinyl, which are driven into the ground and interlocked. Most commonly sheet piling is used to retain soil, and tends to be useful when:

  • Preventing groundwater from entering a structure
  • Constructing bulkheads of seawalls
  • Supporting excavations



How does sheet piling work?

First, the sheets are interlocked together to form the required structure or wall and then driven into the ground. Usually, this is using vibratory hammers, but in some cases where the vibrations risk causing damage to surrounding structures, hydraulic methods are preferred.

The sheets are then either left in the ground permanently to form part of the structure, or removed once construction has been completed. Typically for example in the construction of underground car parks, the sheet piles are there to stay, and may even be left uncovered.



Where might you have seen sheet piling before?

Once you become familiar with sheet piling you may start spotting it all around you. We spoke to Sheet Piling UK who told us “sheet piling is used often in the construction of underground car parks, cofferdams, seawalls, basements, and foundations.

You’ll sometimes spot sheet piling used in the construction of canals and railways too, as it is very useful for preventing erosion.

It’s most common to see sheet pile made out of steel, but you can also use sheets of prestressed concrete, precast concrete, vinyl, and wood.”


The different methods of driving sheet piling

Staggered driving

Sheet piles are driven into the ground between sets of guide frames in this method, and it is commonly used where the soil is more difficult to penetrate.


Panel driving

Often used in dense sand or soil, panel driving makes sure that the sheet piles have a strong alignment.


Pitch and drive

The most simple of all the sheet piling methods, this can be used in more loose soil. This method simply involves driving each sheet pile in to full depth before the next one is driven in.

So we hope that this very short guide has given you a little bit of insight into what it is that sheet piling is exactly, and a couple of different ways that it is used. If you’d like to learn a little bit more, perhaps a bit more in depth, you can take a look at this post from the Designing Buildings Wiki.