Piling is an essential technique for ensuring the stability and safety of a construction site’s foundation before erecting any infrastructure. 

This crucial step enhances the reliability of the project, making it a fundamental aspect of the construction process. Successfully executing piling requires technical expertise, confidence, and collaborative teamwork.

Let’s see more about piling in construction. 

What is Piling in Construction?

Piling in construction involves using long, slender columns or piles to create a stable foundation for structures. You can use this technique when traditional shallow foundations are inadequate due to weak or unstable soil.

Here are 15 types of piling used in construction:

There are different types of piling in construction techniques depending on factors such as the type of structure, soil conditions, and load requirements. 

Types of Piling Based on Structure

  • Timber Piling – As the name suggests, Timber piles use timber. Constructors use this in light load-bearing structures such as residential buildings, small bridges, and boardwalks. They also use this in projects with low load requirements and soil with low bearing capacity.

  • Concrete Piling – Concrete piles come with Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC). You can see this piling in heavy load-bearing structures such as bridges, high-rise buildings, and retaining walls. These piles also withstand high compressive and tensile forces.

  • Steel Piling – As the name indicates, this piling comprises steel. Constructors use this when the soil conditions are challenging or the piles require driving into the complex or rocky soil. All thanks to its corrosion resistance, marine structures such as piers and docks leverage steel piling. Most constructors prefer TMT (Thermo-Mechanically Treated) steel for this piling due to its high strength-to-weight ratio, which makes it an ideal material for construction applications requiring strength and durability.

Based on Soil

  • Driven Piles – Driven piles, often referred to as displacement piles, are a popular kind of building foundation that supports structures by transferring their weight to strata of rock or soil that are strong enough to hold the weight and have the right settlement properties.

  • Bored Piling – This method involves drilling a hole into the ground, and filling it with concrete to create a pile. This is best for larger structures and is possible to install to greater depths.

  • Screw Piling – This method involves driving helical piles into the ground, which screws into the soil. This is ideal for lighter structures. Also, you can install it quickly.

  • Sheet Piling – This method involves driving thin interlocking steel sheets into the ground. Walls, cofferdams, and other temporary structures use this type of piling.

  • Auger Piling – This method uses a drill to bore a hole into the ground, and then fill concrete in it to create a pile. For softer soil conditions, this is the best.

  • Micro Piling – This method involves drilling small diameter piles into the ground. Most limited-access sites use this piling. Constructors also use this for underpinning existing structures.

  • Vibro Piling – This method uses a vibrating probe to drive piles into the ground. Constructors often use this for soft soil. Also, Vibro piling is easy to install.

  • Settlement-Reducing Piles: Settlement-reducing piles are used to reduce the settlement of structures on compressible soil. These piles are designed to transfer the load through the pile to a more stable layer of soil or rock.

  • Combination Piles: Combination piles are a combination of end-bearing and friction piles. These piles are designed to transfer loads through a combination of the end bearing and frictional resistance.

Based on Load Requirements:

  • End-Bearing Piles: End-bearing piles transfer the load to a harder layer of soil or rock. The pile is driven or drilled into the ground until it reaches the harder layer, which can support the load. The load is transferred through the base of the pile to the underlying strata.

  • Friction Piles: Friction piles rely on the skin friction between the surface of the pile and the soil to transfer the load. These piles are driven or drilled into the ground until they reach a layer of soil or rock that can support the load. The load is transferred through the frictional resistance between the pile and the surrounding soil.

  • Tension Piles: Tension piles are used to resist uplift forces. These piles are designed to transfer the load through the pile to a deeper and more stable layer of soil or rock, which can resist the uplift force.

  • Others – Steel Piling, Concrete Piling, Timber Piling, Bored Piling, and Composite Piling are also used based on load requirements.

Uses of Piling in the Foundation

Piling is commonly used to construct high-rise buildings, bridges, industrial structures, and offshore structures. Using piling, structures can be built on weak or soft soils and withstand the structure’s weight without settling or collapsing. It also creates a solid and durable foundation that is resistant to damage from natural disasters. 

  • Supports heavy loads: Piling is used to transfer the weight of a structure to the soil beneath it.

  • Stabilises soil: Piling can stabilize the ground and prevent subsidence or settling.

  • Tackles challenging soil conditions: Piling can overcome challenging soil conditions, such as those with high water content, rocky terrain, or areas with a high risk of liquefaction.

  • Reduces settlement: Piling can reduce settlement in areas where the soil is prone to settling or compaction.

  • Improves load-bearing capacity: Piling improves the soil’s load-bearing capacity beneath a structure.

In conclusion, piling is an essential foundation technique used in construction to support buildings and other structures. Different types of piling are available, each with unique features, advantages, and limitations. The choice of the piling type depends on various factors such as soil type, structure weight, and location.

In addition to selecting the appropriate piling type, proper waste management in construction and building structure is crucial for environmental sustainability. Construction projects generate a significant amount of waste, and proper management through waste reduction, reuse, and recycling can help minimize the environmental impact. With proper design, construction, waste management, and maintenance, piling can provide any structure’s long-lasting, stable foundation while minimizing its environmental impact.


What is the most common type of piling?

The most common type of piling is Driven piles. Driven pile foundation is the one in which structural components are forced into the earth using a heavy hammer. These piles are frequently employed as the most economical deep foundation method to support buildings, tanks, towers, walls, and bridges.

How do you calculate pile size?

Calculating the pile size involves evaluating load requirements, soil conditions, and other site-specific factors. This is typically done by an engineer or geotechnical expert using various methods and formulas to determine the appropriate pile size.

What is the maximum length of piling?

The maximum length of piling depends on various factors, such as the type of soil, the load-bearing capacity required, and the construction method used. Therefore, there is no fixed maximum length of piling.

What is the minimum length of piling?

The minimum length of piling depends on various factors such as the type of soil, the load-bearing capacity required, and the construction method used