Tag Archives: DRIVEN PILES

Driven piles – Features, Types and advantages

Driven piles support structures and transmit loads to underlying soil or rock, as they are a type of deep foundation used for this purpose. Contractors use driven piles, made of steel, concrete, or wood, to support structures and transmit loads to underlying soil or rock. They also call them displacement piles. The installation of driven piles involves driving them into the ground using impact hammers or vibratory drives until they reach a layer of rock or soil that can support the required loads.

If the soil is exceptionally dense, they may need to pre-drill to ensure the pile reaches the design depth. Construction projects commonly employ driven pile to provide stability and strength to the structure. Driven piles offer a cost-effective deep foundation solution and are commonly used to support buildings, tanks, towers, walls, and bridges.

Why driven piles?

Contractors often use driven piles, which are the most cost-effective deep foundation solution, to support buildings, tanks, towers, walls, and bridges. They are also suitable for embankments, retaining walls, bulkheads, anchorage structures, and cofferdams. Driven piles possess a high load-bearing capacity, durable, and contractors can install them quickly and effectively in various soil conditions. Engineers frequently use them in places with inadequate soil, where conventional shallow foundations would not be strong enough to sustain buildings.

In addition, contractors can install driven piles to support compression, tension, or lateral loads, with specifications determined by the structure’s needs, budget, and soil conditions, making them very versatile.

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Types of driven piles

Driven piles are broadly classified as follows

  • Steel Driven pile
  • Precast Concrete Driven pile
  • Timber pile
  • Composite driven pile

Steel Driven pile

Steel-driven piles support major structures such as buildings, bridges, roads, and industrial facilities in construction. Construction workers push them into the earth using specialized tools like hydraulic hammers or pile drivers until they reach a predetermined depth or a firm layer of rock or soil. Steel-driven piles are steel beams with broad flanges on both ends.

Steel Driven Piles

Steel-driven piles are typically made of high-strength steel with a round or square cross-section. They come in various lengths and widths and can be installed vertically or at an angle to meet foundation design requirements. An impact hammer is used to press the pile into the soil by delivering a forceful blow. For shorter depths, steel screw piles are supported by a cast iron helix and powered by rotary motors.

Because of their durability, strength, and capacity to support enormous loads, the steel-driven pile is a common choice for deep foundations. Steel-driven piles are a cost-effective and quick solution for many construction projects. However, their applicability will depend on factors such as soil characteristics, anticipated loads, and local construction building codes and regulations.

Pre-cast concrete Driven Piles

Precast concrete pile manufacturers deploy these piles in construction to support structures built on weak or compressible soils. They prefabricate these piles in a factory or casting yard before transporting them to the construction site. Based on the project’s unique needs, they can construct precast concrete piles in a vast range of dimensions, forms, and configurations. High-strength concrete, reinforced with steel rebar, is used to make these piles. They often use a vibratory hammer or hydraulic hammer to drive the piles into the earth until they reach the required depth or a solid layer of soil or rock.

Precast concrete Driven Pile

Piles come in a variety of shapes, such as square, octagonal, cylindrical, or sheet. Percussion-driven piles are used in situations where bored piles would be ineffective due to running water or excessively loose soils. They have a load range of 300-1,200 kN and a maximum reach of 30 m. Precast concrete piles are constructed with great accuracy and quality control in a controlled environment, resulting in a consistent and uniform product that satisfies design requirements. They are durable and can withstand adverse weather conditions such as seawater or chemical exposure. Precast concrete piles can also be installed quickly and effectively, saving time.

  • Precast concrete piles are quick to install.
  • They can be used in various soil conditions.
  • Using precast concrete piles saves time and money in construction.
  • Precast concrete piles are durable and reliable.
  • They have high-quality control standards.
  • Precast concrete piles are a popular choice for deep foundation construction.

Timber pile

Timber-driven piles are used in construction to create a stable foundation for structures in weak or compressible soils. Contractors use hammers or pile drivers to create cylindrical or square wood piles from premium softwood species. This type of pile is particularly effective in areas with high water tables where other types of piles may not work as well. Timber-driven piles provide a stable foundation for structures in weak or compressible soils. This is achieved by hammering wooden piles into the ground, which compresses the wood and displaces the surrounding soil. The resulting tight fit helps to support the weight of the structure. Timber-driven piles have the advantages of being inexpensive and simple to install. Nonetheless, they may be susceptible to rot and pest infestation.


Composite driven pile

Engineers commonly use composite piles made of a combination of two or more materials, such as concrete, steel, or timber, when soil conditions require a combination of strength and flexibility. An example of a composite pile is a concrete pile with a steel section, as shown in the figure.

Contractors use composite-driven piles consisting of a steel tube filled with concrete and reinforced with steel rebar because they can withstand heavy loads. They use in various construction projects, such as bridges, high-rise buildings, and marine structures. The steel tube provides structural support and protects the concrete from damage during installation, while the concrete and rebar provide additional strength and stability. Contractors can install composite piles using hydraulic hammers or vibratory drivers to reach depths of up to 60 meters. Due to their durability and corrosion resistance, composite piles are ideal for use in harsh environments.

Quality Control for Driven Piles

The construction of driven piles requires high-quality materials and adherence to standards such as BS 8004:2015 and EC standards. It’s crucial to maintain the pile’s shape and avoid damage during installation and inspect them beforehand for quality assurance. The maximum load a pile can carry depends on soil or rock strata properties, pile dimensions and material, and installation method. Engineers perform load testing on representative samples to determine capacity and use monitoring instruments like inclinometers and settlement gauges to ensure the pile’s sufficient support. Effective quality control and testing are crucial for the safe and reliable performance of driven piles in construction projects.

Driven Pile

During installation, it is crucial to maintain the shape of driven piles and ensure they are not damaged by the installation of subsequent piles.

Quality control of driven piles is an important aspect of ensuring the stability, safety, and longevity of structures that rely on them for support. Here are some of the common quality control measures used for the driven piles.

Pile driving equipment for driven piles

To make sure that piles are installed correctly, trained personnel are required to maintain, calibrate, and operate pile driving equipment properly. Regular inspections are necessary to detect any damage or wear in the equipment, and repairs or replacements must be made promptly.

Pile inspection and testing

Inspect the piles for defects or damage before driving them into the ground. To ensure that the piles have been installed correctly and meet the specified requirements, non-destructive testing methods such as sonic testing or integrity testing should be used to test the piles after installation.

Pile load testing for driven pile

One can conduct load testing of a sample of piles to ensure that they can support the required loads. This involves applying a controlled load to the pile and measuring the resulting deformation, which one can compare to the design specifications to ensure that the piles are safe and reliable.

Pile driving records

One should keep detailed records of the pile driving process, including the number of blows or vibrations required to drive the pile to the required depth, the penetration rate, and any other relevant information. These records are essential to monitor the quality of the installation and identify any issues that may arise during the construction process.

Regular inspections and testing are essential to identifying any issues early in the construction process and enabling prompt corrective action.

Advantages of driven piles

The main advantages are

  • Piles can be pre-fabricated off-site which allows for efficient installation once on-site.

High Capacity

Piles are driven deep into soil or rock. This provides high load-bearing capacity. It’s suitable for supporting heavy structures like buildings, bridges, and marine structures. The process increases the effective length of the pile, resulting in high capacity.

Ease of Installation of driven piles

Compared to other pile types like drilled shafts, the installation of a driven pile is quick and efficient. The installation process involves driving the piles into the ground using an impact hammer or a vibratory driver. This requires minimal excavation and soil removal.


Other types of foundation systems can often be more expensive than driven piles, particularly when the soil conditions are favourable. The cost-effectiveness of driven piles is due to their relatively simple installation process and the availability of pre-manufactured piles, which can reduce the time and cost required for pile installation.

Minimal disturbance

The installation process of driven piles minimizes the disturbance to the surrounding area, making them suitable for use in urban or environmentally sensitive areas. The piles are driven into the ground, which reduces the amount of soil disturbance and the need for excavation.


Driven piles are suitable for a variety of soil conditions, including soft soils, hard soils, and rock layers. They can also be made of different materials such as steel, concrete, and timber, providing a wide range of design options.

  • When driven into the ground, piles displace and compact the soil, resulting in increased bearing capacity. In contrast, other types of deep foundations may require soil removal, which can cause subsidence and structural problems.
  • Installation usually produces little spoil for removal and disposal.

Overall, driven piles offer several advantages in terms of high capacity, speed of installation, cost-effectiveness, minimal disturbance, and versatility, making them a popular choice for foundation systems in many construction projects.

However, the use of driven piles also has some disadvantages, including their relatively high cost compared to shallow foundations, the noise and vibration associated with their installation, and the potential for damage to nearby structures or utilities. Therefore, the selection of driven piles as a foundation type depends on a variety of factors, including soil conditions, load requirements, and site-specific constraints.

Disadvantages of driven piles

In the design and construction process, it is important to consider the disadvantages of driven piles, despite their many advantages. Some of the main disadvantages of driven piles are:

Noise and vibration

The installation of driven piles can generate high levels of noise and vibration. This can be a concern for nearby residents and sensitive structures. Pile driving can cause damage to nearby structures, particularly those with shallow foundations.

Limited depth

Other foundation types may be necessary if the capacity or depth required cannot be achieved with driven piles. This is because of the limitations imposed by soil or rock conditions and the driving equipment’s capacity.

Difficulty in driving through hard soil or rock

Driving piles in hard soil or rock layers can be difficult and time-consuming, which can lead to higher installation costs. Overcoming the hardness of the soil or rock may also require the use of specialized driving equipment or techniques.

Quality Control

The installation of a driven pile requires critical quality control. Poor installation can cause issues such as pile damage, pile movement, or insufficient load capacity. To ensure that the piles are installed correctly and meet the required standards, regular inspection, and testing are required. Moreover, monitoring is necessary during pile installation.

Limited environment suitability

Driven piles may have limited suitability in environmentally sensitive areas. This includes wetlands or areas with a high water table. This is due to the potential soil disturbance caused by the driving process. Moreover, the use of chemicals for the preservation or treatment of piles can have negative impacts on the environment. It is important to consider these factors and explore alternative foundation options in such areas.

Pile foundations- Types and Advantages.


<p class="has-text-align-justify" style="font-size:18px" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">The foundations having the depth more than the width are called deep foundations. Deep foundations are proposed when the sub soil strata lacks the safe bearing capacity to handle the loads induced by the structure. In such a case the founding level of the foundations are moved to a deeper area with required bearing capacity. The loads on the structure are transferred vertically into the ground.The foundations having the depth more than the width are called deep foundations. Deep foundations are proposed when the sub soil strata lacks the safe bearing capacity to handle the loads induced by the structure. In such a case the founding level of the foundations are moved to a deeper area with required bearing capacity. The loads on the structure are transferred vertically into the ground.




Pile foundations are long slender members, which can be concrete, steel or any other material used for transferring the loads of a structure when the subsoil lacks the bearing capacity . The pile foundations transfer the load vertically through the less denser top layer to a high denser soil/rock layer which can negotiate the loads without failure.

typical section of pile foundation


Pile foundations are preferred

a) When the groundwater table is very high and other types of open foundations require huge dewatering by well point or deep bore well method which turns out to be quite expensive and not feasible.

b) When heavy and non uniform distribution of loads from the superstructure which causes unequal settlements in open foundations.

c) When the low soil bearing capacity and site conditions tends to make the design of shallow foundations very conservative and uneconomical.

d) When the settlement of soil exceeds the permissible limit while designing a shallow foundation.

e) When the chances of soil washing or scouring away from the foundation sides may happen due to the presence of any underground systems , river or canal nearby.

f) When any type of soil excavation is impossible due to very poor soil strata .


End bearing pile,Friction pile & Bearing cum friction pile


End bearing pile
End bearing pile

A bearing pile is a slender member/ column which transmits vertically all loads coming from the super structure. It is transmitted through a lower density weak layer of soil to a denser strata much below the ground which is capable of negotiating the loads. The pile acts as a column member which transfers the loads to the bearing strata.


Friction piles
Friction pile

This type of pile is used when a suitable strata for  negotiating the loads are available at a very deeper area and  taking piles to that  depth is not economically feasible. Friction piles  utilises the shear stresses/skin friction along the surface of the pile.  The load transfer is done through the frictional resistance between the pile surface and the surrounding soil. The total surface area of the pile is involved in the load transfer process. Greater the embedded length more is the load carrying capacity of the pile. Load carrying capacity of pile is directly proportional to its length.


Friction cum bearing piles
Friction cum bearing pile

These type of piles  negotiate the loads through the combined action of end bearing and skin friction . In this case the piles can be terminated in a medium or stiff clay rather than resting on a hard strata. These types of piles are preferred and considered economical hence it is the most commonly used type of pile foundation.


The execution of piling is done in two methods



In this method the piles are driven into the soil/sand which causes lateral displacement of soil and hence it is called displacement piles. Displacement piles are basically designed to be installed without removal of soil. Special equipment are used to drive the piles and displace soil laterally. Depending on situations these types of piles are preferred over bored piles.


Bored pile

In this type of foundation bores of required diameter is made and are filled using RCC. It can be a cased or uncased types depending on the collapsible nature of the soil.


  • b) STEEL
Classification of piles based on material used
Classification of piles based on material used


The timber piles are sharpened logs obtained from trees like sal, teak, deodar, babul, etc. These piles are used in water and can resist sea water better than other piles. These piles are basically friction piles and are driven into the ground. The timber pile length varies from 20-25 mtr and is designed for a load of around 20 t.

Advantages of timber piles

a) Timber piles are available in varied sizes and is cheaper than any other type of piles.

b) It is easy to install and can be cut into any size as per the requirements.

c) Timber piles is more reliable in marine works.

d) Timber piles doesn’t decay even when submerged in water for a prolonged time.

Disadvantages of timber piles

a) It is difficult to get Straight and long timber piles.

b) Timber piles may not pass through all strata. It is difficult to drive piles in hard and dense strata.

c) Timber piles can be used only as friction piles and not as end bearing piles. Splicing of a timber pile is difficult.

d) As a prevention against possible decay timber piles has to be treated with preservatives.


Steel piles
Steel piles

Steel piles may be of H-section or hollow pipe (Fig) . They can be used for an optimum length of 20-40 mtr. The size can be upto 600 mm dia pipes and can also done using HP sections having the same flange and web width as shown in the fig. These piles are mostly designed as end bearing piles . These piles are driven as open ended or closed ended . The closed ended pile shall be filled with concrete.

Advantages of steel piles

Steel piles are very easy to install. Due to their less cross sectional area it can penetrate through any type of soil layer with minimal soil displacement.

Splicing of steel piles are easy and it can go to any depth compared to other type of piles.

The penetrating properties of steel piles helps to go deep and hence can carry more loads than other pile types.

Disadvantages of steel piles

Steel piles are corrosion prone and has to be coated with anticorossive coatings before driving.

While encountered with a hard strata the H sections tends to deform or sometimes the verticality of pile is lost while driving.

The steel piles are very expensive.


Concrete is the most common material used for construction of piles due to their design flexibility and ease of execution. Concrete piles are normally used in the following categories.


Different type of concrete pile
Different type of concrete pile


Precast pile uses conventional RCC. Piles are casted in a fabrication yard and conveyed to the location for erection . Precast pile are either square or round . The rectangle or square shaped piles are casted in a horizontal fabrication bed and round pile is casted vertically. Precast piles are designed to take care of the loads/stresses developing while lifting, conveying and driving.


Prestressed concrete pile is preferred when the sizes of the precast piles go beyond a certain limit. Prestressing can optimise the pile size drastically making it very easy to lift ,convey and erect. Prestressing is done by stretching the tendons and pouring concrete keeping the tendons in a stretched position. Once the concrete develops full strength the tendons are released . The released tendons in the process of regaining its shape induces compressive stresses in the member.

Prestressing convert the pile into a high load carrying member which can resisting the stresses. due to the impact loads generated on driving, the uplift forces and the combined moments. These piles can be used for an optimum design depth of 25-35 mtrs.


Cast in situ piles are constructed by drilling a bore hole to the required level and filling it with Reinforced cement concrete. The bore hole can be formed by excavating ground with the help of a rotary drilling equipment or hydraulic rigs. Casings are driven into the bores locations before drilling . The casing will be removed gradually during concreting process or sometimes left in the bore as a permanent casing

Cast in place piles

Advantages of Cast-in-Place Concrete Piles

Cast in situ piles are very flexible and the process of execution is easier compared to driven piles and other type of piles.

The reinforcement cages are light weight and easy to handle. The rebar cages are fabricated with the help of simple and conventional tools.

No chances of breakage during installation stage .

If there is some issue with the pile that prompts the customer to abandon, additional substitution piles can be done.

Disadvantages of Cast-in-situ Concrete Piles

a) Installation requires careful supervision and quality control. Because once a pile gets abandoned executing a replacement pile is expensive and time consuming.

b) Cast in situ piles generate a lot of pile muck ( mix of bentonite and soil). The pile muck has to be removed and disposed as per environmental policy . The pile head chipping also generates lot of concrete waste which has to be disposed.

c) Requires space for movement of Rigs, cranes, stocking of materials and bentonite tank.

d) Under water flow can collapse the piles.

e) Concrete quality cannot be visualised. Hence health assessment tests like pile integrity test are to be conducted to confirm the pile integrity.


A composite pile is made up of two or more sections of different materials or different pile types. The top portion shall be casted using concrete and the other portions shall be of steel or timber. These type of piles are used in special applications