Sheet piling is a construction method of creating walls by driving large sheets (usually steel) into the ground.
The sheets interlock together to create a strong wall which provides a high level of structural resistance.
To find out more about what sheet piling is, its benefits and disadvantages, check out this article from Civil Engineering Basic.
Underground car parks are something we all use regularly, but never stop to think about how they’re constructed.
After all, it requires a lot of earth to be moved to create the necessary space. Well, the answer comes from sheet piling!
Due to their extremely high resistance they allow massive amounts of soil and earth pushed aside, allowing the construction to take place.
Sheet piles are often used to create these and other below ground structures such as pumping stations and storage tanks.
While sheet piling is often used as a temporary solution, in this case it is permanent. The reason this method is used is because of the sheer strength that it provides, and the longevity, sheet piles can last almost indefinitely.
One of the more common ways in which sheet piling is used is to support larger construction projects.
This is often the case in marine projects such as seawalls and bulkheads, protecting land structures from tidal waves. For example, check out this case study from Sheet Piling UK.
They constructed a temporary 400m trench which was used to facilitate the installation of a 2.1m wide pipe as part of the Fylde Coast sewerage system.
(The case study also highlights another advantage of sheet piling, which is that the sheets can be reused and recycled from one project to another.)
Sheet piling is also often used to create walls which create space for railway lines and hold back the embankments on either side of the tracks.
Both when it comes to the construction of the line and maintenance and repairs, sheet piling helps to keep the tracks free from debris falling down the slopes and onto the tracks, which could potentially lead to a nasty accident, especially during bad weather when landslides are a risk.
Often in these situations when sheet piling is being installed near to a residential area or could cause damage to the existing structure (the line), a special method of driving the piles is used where they are hydraulically driven rather than using a vibratory hammer.
Sheet piling is a lesser known method of construction, but it’s used all around us, in all kinds of projects.
So next time you’re wondering how the underground car park at Asda or even underground structures such as the Channel Tunnel were created, now you know!