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Sheet piles application

Sheet Piling 101: Importance Of Sheet Piles As A Better Option For Earth Retention Systems

Earth Retention systems serve as a way to protect adjacent buildings, streets, utilities, etc. during an excavation. The most common methods used include, sheet pile, soil nails, tangent walls, secant walls, shotcrete, soldier pile and wood lagging. These structures can be both temporary or permanent based on the construction requirements and they either be internally braced, tied back or cantilevered depending on the soil condition and wall height.

Earth retention systems have evolved from being a relatively simple earth support system - as solely used for temporary shoring during excavation -  to becoming a complex subterranean reinforcement used to permanently stabilize slopes and deep cuts. The use of advanced geotechnical construction techniques, latest equipment, innovative use soil anchors and soil nailing has enabled construction workers to carry out excavations safely, using a cost effective method. Use of the latest techniques requires thorough knowledge and expertise in structural mechanic and geotechnical engineering of the earth retention system.


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Listed below are some of the most advanced and cost effective techniques for earth retention system, developed by geotechnical engineers:


  • Sheet Piles

  • Anchors

  • Gabions

  • Soil Nailing

  • Anchor Block Slope Stabilization

  • Secant or Tangent Piles

  • Micropile Slide Stabilization System

  • Soldier Piles and  Lagging


These latest earth retention techniques are best for fast excavation, rapid mobilization, restricted access, a variety of underpinning techniques and cost effective designs. This article discusses the productivity and effectiveness of sheet piling technique for earth retention.


Sheet piling is one of the most effective earth retention techniques and considered as the most reliable technique for excavation support, that enables soil retention by using steel sheet sections that have built in interlocking edges. Sheet piles are installed in a  sequence to design depth along the planned excavation seawall or perimeter alignment.

A Sheet piling earth retention system is very effective when retained soil cannot be de-watered. Sheet piles are solid steel sections built in a wide variety of cross-sectional shapes - that are capable of interlocking with one another, to form a continuous, watertight wall, making it absolutely impervious. Each steel sheet is vibrated or driven into the ground. Cantilever walls are the most common, but sheet piles can also be laterally braced in order to suit the specific needs of the construction site. The high strength of steel makes sheet piles an excellent and durable earth retention system.


These interlocked sheet piles are placed in a manner that they form a wall. Anchors can also be installed to provide additional support to sheet piles. Sheet pile walls are mainly used to support excavations for below grade basements, parking structures, foundations, pump houses, as well as, in construction of cofferdams, bulkheads and seawalls.


Utilising sheet piles is considered as a sustainable option since it is recycled steel that is used in their construction, and they can be used over and over again, making sheet piles a durable and long lasting wall system.

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