A Quick Guide To Sheet Piling  

Sheet piling is a technique which is often overlooked or unheard of, but it actually makes our lives easier every day by being at the forefront of the world of construction.


From basements to pump houses and plenty of structures in between, sheet piling plays a massive role in modern living, so if you’re interested in finding out more about this construction technique, keep reading for our quick guide to sheet piling.


What is sheet piling?

Sheet piling is a method of soil retention which utilises sheets (which are usually made of steel, but vinyl and wood are also options) with interlocking edges and has three main uses:

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  • To create a barrier to underground water flow
  • To construct seawalls and bulkheads
  • To support excavations

How does it work?

The sheets are interlocked so that they are connected together and are then driven into the ground – they can be there temporarily or permanently. It is generally vibratory hammers which are used to drive the sheet piles into the ground but, where vibrations are a concern for some structures, there is an option for sheet piles to be hydraulically driven into the ground.

Where is it used?

Sheet piling is commonly used in the process of constructing basements, below-grade car parks, cofferdams, foundations, pump houses, and seawalls.


There are four main types of sheet piles:

  • Wooden sheet piles – this type of sheet pile is used if the excavation is small and the groundwater is not excessive.
  • Precast concrete sheet piles – this type of sheet pile comes in square or rectangular cross sections and form a wall similar to wooden sheet piles. It’s heavier and bulkier than other types of sheet pile, so it’s no surprise that prestressed concrete sheet piles are taking the place of precast concrete sheet piles.
  • Prestressed concrete sheet piles – this type of sheet pile is one of the most commonly used and they are lightweight and durable, often being used in sea water.
  • Steel sheet piles – this type of sheet pile, when properly constructed, is unlikely to create any leaks, which is why they are often used in the production of deep cofferdams.


What are the pros and cons?

  • Sheet piling is sustainable because it mainly utilises recycled steel sheets as the sheet piles which can be reused.
  • Cold rolled sheet piling is cost effective but does not provide the most water resistance.
  • Hot rolled sheet piling is the more traditional technique and it provides much better water retention than cold rolled sheet piling.

Driving methods


There are three main methods of driving sheet piles into the ground: pitch and drive, panel driving, and staggered driving.

Pitch and drive

This simple method of sheet piling is used in loose soil and is carried out by driving each short sheet pile to the full depth before driving the next one.


Panel driving

Panel driving ensures that the sheets have a strong alignment and verticality and is often used in dense sand or soil.


Staggered driving

Staggered driving is used in problematic soil conditions and the sheet piles are driven into the ground between guide frames in the order of sheet piles 1, 3, 5, 2, and 4.


If you want to find out more about sheet piling, read this really detailed guide.

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