Eiffel 101: Concrete Piles vs. Steel Piles
Though steel piling and concrete piling have similar functions, they are not interchangeable. Each requires a different installation method and works over varying parameters. The best piling material for any project will depend on the project’s structural details, budget, longevity and loadbearing requirements.
Foundation Piling Overview
Piling is a type of underground foundation that’s made of long steel or concrete columns. These columns create a strong foundation for large, heavy structures such as buildings, bridges and roads that could not otherwise be supported by the topsoil.
Foundation piling works by transferring a structure’s weight from the loose topsoil to the stronger soil or rock below. There are two main types of steel pipe foundation pilings: end bearing piles and friction piles.
With end bearing piles, the bottom end of the pile rests on an underground layer of strong soil or rock. The end of the pile presses against this strong layer to keep from shifting, and the load of the aboveground building is transferred through the pile onto the strong underground layer.
Friction piles work more like a wedge in the soil. The friction of the soil around the pile is what holds the pile in place, and this is what transfers the weight of the aboveground load to the soil.
Concrete Piling Applications
Concrete piling is most commonly used as a foundation repair method for residential homes and light commercial facilities. It is created using heavy duty concrete columns pushed deep into the earth to provide support for the foundation.
Steel Piling Applications
Much like concrete piles, steel piles are pushed into the earth to create a foundation for heavy structures. Steel offers a higher tensile strength than concrete, and this increased durability and enables steel piles to be driven further into the ground. When building the heaviest structures like skyscrapers, stadiums, highway bridges, and towers, steel piling is used.
Steel vs. Concrete Piles
- Best used for residential or light commercial applications
- Weaker than steel piles
- Less costly than steel piles
- Shorter lifespan than steel piles
- Cannot be resold easily and isn’t made for reuse
- Best used for the heaviest structures like bridge and highway foundations
- Stronger than concrete piles
- More expensive than concrete piles
- Longer lifespan than concrete
- Can be resold easily and works well for reuse
Common Steel Piling Sizes
Wide flange beams and h-pile are two common steel piling beams, which come in the following sizes:
W8: W8x18, W8x21, W8x24, W8x28, W8x31, W8x35, W8x40, W8x48, W8x58, W8x67
W10: W10x22, W10x26, W10x30, W10x33, W10x39, W10x45, W10x49, W10x54, W10x60, W10x68, W10x77, W10x88, W10x100, W10x112
W12: W12x26, W12x30, W12x35, W12x40, W12x45, W12x50, W12x53, W12x58 ,W12x65, W12x72, W12x79, W12x87, W12x96, W12x106, W26x120, W12x136, W12x152, W12x170, W12x190, W12x210, W12x230, W12x252
W14: W14x22, W14x26, W14x30, W14x34, W14x38, W14x43, W14x48, W14x53, W14x61, W14x68, W14x74, W14x82, W14x90, W14x99, W14x109, W14x120, W14x132, W14x145, W14x159, W14x176, W14x193, W14x211, W14x233, W14x257, W14x283
W16: W16x26, W16x31, W16x36, W16x40, W16x45, W16x50, W16x57, W16x67, W16x77, W16x89, W16x100
W18: W18x35, W18x40, W18x46, W18x50, W18x55, W18x60, W18x65, W18x71, W18x76, W18x86, W18x97, W18x106, W18x119, W18x130, W18x143, W18x158, W18x175, W18x192, W18x211, W18x234
W21: W21x44, W21x50, W21x57, W21x58, W21x55, W21x62, W21x68, W21x73, W21x83, W21x93, W21x101, W21x111, W21x122, W21x132, W21x147, W21x166, W21x182, W21x201, W21x223, W21x248, W21x275
W24: W24x55, W24x62, W24x68, W24x76, W24x84, W24x94, W24x103, W24x204, W24x117, W24x131, W24x146, W24x162, W24x176, W24x192, W24x207, W24x229
W27: W27x84, W27x94, W27x102, W27x114, W27x129, W27x146, W27x161, W27x178, W27x194
W30: W30x90, W30x99, W30x108, W30x116, W30x124, W30x132, W30x148
W33: W33x118, W33x130, W33x141, W33x152, W33x169
W36: W36x135, W36x150, W36x160, W36x170, W36x182, W36x194, W36x210, W36x232, W36x256
HP10: HP10x42, HP10x57
HP12: HP12x53, HP12x63, HP12x74, HP12x84, HP12x89, HP12x102, HP12x117
HP14: HP14x73, HP14x89, HP14x102, HP14x117
HP16: HP16x88, HP16x101, HP16x121, HP16x141, HP16x162, HP16x183
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