What Are Steel Piles | 4 Types of Steel Piles | Corrosion of Steel Piles Steel | Advantages and Disadvantages of Steel Piles Foundation

Steel Piles: Types, Advantages & Disadvantages

Steel piles are an essential component of many foundation systems used in construction projects worldwide. These structural elements are made of steel and are driven or drilled into the ground to support structures such as buildings, bridges, and piers.

In this article, we will explore the different types of steel piles, including H-piles, pipe piles, and sheet piles, as well as their uses and advantages and disadvantages. We will also discuss the issue of corrosion and how it can affect the performance of steel piles.

Types of Steel Piles

Different types of steel piles cater to diverse construction needs. H-piles, often used in deep foundations, offer high load-bearing capacity and structural stability.

1. Pipe Piles (Metal Piles)

Open End Bearing Pile and Clode End Bearing Pile
Pipe Piles

The pipe pile has behaved as an end-bearing pile or friction pile. These piles are seamless steel piles that are created by welding. The pipe pile may be driven either open-ended or close-ended.

Open-Ended Pile: As the name suggests driven pile end is open.  Usually, it is useful in the rock or hard state. the open-ended piles are sunk into the soil.

The soil that is inside the steel pile is removed with the help of water jetting and compressed air .then after the pile is driven into the required depth; the steel pile is filled with concrete.

Close-end pile: In the case of closed-end piles, the driving end of each pipe is closed by welding. The material shoe is made of steel or cast iron which is used at the end of the pile as a pile shoe.

Once the close-end pile is driven into the soil. After that pile is filled with the required amount of concrete. The thickness of the pile ranges from 8 mm to 12 mm and the diameter of the pile ranges from 0.25mm to 1.2 mm.

2. Screw Piles or Helical Piles

Helical Pile
Helical Piles

The screw piles are made up of cast iron or steel. These piles make a long shaft whose end is either helical form or screw base. The external diameter of the shaft is ranging from 15 cm to 30 cm and the diameter of the screw base ranging is 45cm to 150 cm.

Screw piles shaft may be hollow or solid. Installation of the pile into the ground is with the help of an electric motor. It is suitable for loose sand and loose clay.

These types of screw piles help to increase load-bearing capacity. The biggest advantage of a screw pile is easy to install.

3. Disc Steel Piles

Disc Steel Pile
Disc Steel Piles

Disc steel pile arrangement is similar to the screw piles,  screw pile consists of a solid cast iron pile that attached a cast-iron disc to its foot. So that foot is helpful to increase the bearing area of the pile. Generally used in marine construction.

During penetration, the pile sinks into the ground. So the water jetting process is made in the bottom of the pile. This type of pile is suitable in soft and sandy soil.

Which allows the sinking of the pile by water jetting. It is mostly used in marine construction where the total penetration of the pile in the ground is required to be large.

4. H-piles

H - Pile

The rolled steel H- pile acts as a bearing pile which is a newly developed technology in the pilling industry.  H piles produce large impact stress during hard driving.

H-Pile is generally used in hard strata like rocky areas.  Also, H- the pile has a small cross-sectional area of the pile is makes it easier for soil displacement. So that no extra process of jetting, or coring is required for penetration of the H-pile.

Advantages of H-Piles

  • H- Piles produce a small amount of displacement.
  • H-piles required small space for storage.
  • H-piles are handled easily.
  • H- Pile is generally used in the construction of retaining walls, cofferdams and bridges, and bulkheads.
  • H-piles penetration can be performed closer to the existing structure.
  • In the H-pile splicing process can be done easily.
  • H-pile can penetrate the ground is up to 100m depth.
  • H -piles act as friction and compaction piles.

Read More: Pile Foundation | Types of Pile Foundations | Uses of Pile Foundation

Corrosion of Steel Piles Steel

Piles embedded in an impervious layer of the earth, at least 2 ft below the level of the ground, will generally be free of corrosive effects because of insufficient oxygen in the atmosphere.

In an Embedded portion of the steel, piles may be affected by corrosion. Because the surrounding layer consists of cinder fills, coal, alkaline soils, wastes from plants, etc.

Electric deterioration of the steel piles can be protected by the use of protective layers or coatings like coal, paint and epoxy layering, etc.

The durability of Steel pile

In many cases the rate of corrosion is less at that time protective method is not needed in other cases the rate of corrosion is high at that time a protective method is used for piles.

The following methods are used:

  • Apply the coating layer on the piles
  • Use thicker section
  • Use high-grade steel
  • To avoid maximum bending moment because it leads to corrosion.
  • Cathodic protection for piles.
  • In marine areas used ASTM960 (SPLASH ZONE)
  • Extension in concrete capping

Read More: Pile load Test | Pile Loading Test | Pile Load Test Procedure | Pile Load Test Is Code

Advantages and Disadvantages of Steel Piles


  • Steel pile is capable to penetrate through stiff layers or boulders.
  • Steel piles possess high bearing capacity compared to others
  • These piles can handle rough handling.
  • Soil volume displaced during the driving of steel pile is compared to less.
  • Steel piles provide a strong and durable foundation for the structure.


  • Steel piles are highly susceptible to damage due to corrosion and electrolysis.
  • Steel piles are costly compare to others unless the bearing stratum is able to produce high pile capacity.

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1 thought on “Steel Piles: Types, Advantages & Disadvantages”

  1. Henry Killingsworth

    It was really informative when you mentioned that steel piles are more economical than the other kinds of piles. Would it be a good idea to use steel piles as part of your foundation when trying to construct a home? Using steel seems like a good idea because every home needs to have a strong foundation.

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