When most think of sheet piling they usually envision steel or concrete selections. While these are popular choices, another you’ll find is wood. Below you’ll discover more about the unique properties of wood sheet piles and what they’re best for.
What is Timber Sheet Piling Used For?
Wood sheet piles are applied to light structures to provide temporary support. They can often be found near coastal construction to keep dirt piles in place. However, to prevent them from warping or crumbling, they often need to be treated.
Timber sheet piles tend to be the full tree trunk whose branches have been removed. While they can be made out of any tree, most of the time they’re composed of douglas fir and southern yellow pine. In some cases, they might also be made of greenheart which is a bit stronger but is very expensive.
Benefits of Timber Piles
There are countless perks that come with using wood piles. Some of these include them being:
- Easy to install and remove
Timber Sheet Piling Shapes
This material will either come in a round or square shape.
A round wood sheet pile uses small amounts of concrete to stay in place. This tends to be sturdier than square options and can be submerged.
This shape only uses fine timber. Most square pieces will have a diameter of 8×8 inches. However, the length will vary depending on your needs.
Bracing Timber Sheet Piles
This material often doesn’t have interlocks. To keep the piles in place, they need to follow certain bracing methods. Two bracing techniques wood sheet piles use are knee and diagonal bracing.
This method adds extra beam support along the top of the wood sheet piles. They’re placed at a 45° angle.
Diagonal bracing used two long wooden beams that cross together in an “X” shape. However, one beam will be placed on one side of the sheet pile and the other will be secured on the opposite side. This way, everything is stable.
What’s a Tongue and Groove Joint?
When using wood piles you’ll find that many are equipped with a tongue and groove joint. This fitting allows the two pieces to slide into place.
The pile with the groove will feature a thin pit along its edge. The one with the tongue has a thick piece protruding from the top that connects to this pit.
While this design helps make the installation process go faster, with wooden sheet piles, you’ll still need to apply bolts to the edges to add extra security.
Timber Sheet Piling Installation
When installing wood sheet piles you’ll need to use either an auger, jetting, or driven process.
If you intend to place wood sheet piles in poor soil conditions, the auger method is ideal. It will push the sheet pile into the ground but without causing major disturbances.
This method is used when the sheet pile needs to be placed in dense soil. It will moisten the ground when digging into it. This not only helps the pile driver maneuver easier in the terrain but prevents friction.
Driven pile driving uses a precast piece to create a mold in the ground. A pile driver will insert this piece and then remove it. The wood sheet pile can then be installed in the well.
How to Protect Timber Piles
There are a few ways you can shield these piles from damage.
Apply a Preservative
One procedure is to apply a preservative over it. However, this could be banned in some instances as they sometimes contain toxic chemicals. It’s important to research ahead of time if there are restrictions. This is especially so if the wood pile contains creosote (a preservative made from coal).
In addition to whether the treatment is legal or not, look at its purpose. For instance, some might only be used to prevent algae growth while others are built to thwart delignification.
Add a Sleeve
Rather than relying on preservatives, you might instead look at sleeves. These PVC-formed items slip tightly around the wood piles. This safeguards them from damages and increases their durability.
Sleeves might already be added when you purchase the wood piles. But, if not, you can easily do so yourself. The process will vary depending on the type you invest in, but you’ll usually just need to wrap the wood pile in it and then heat-treat it.
Things to Remember When Using Timber Sheet Piles
Use a Chainsaw to Cut Them
If you need to cut the sheet pile, always use a chainsaw. This device is simple to steer so you can carve the piece as needed. Besides this, it uses sharp blades so the cuts are even and smooth.
Keep in mind though that once these sheet piles are sliced, you need to immediately treat them. Otherwise, moisture will encourage mold growth.
Ensure the Piles are Lined Up
When positioning wood sheet piles, it’s easy to overlook whether or not they’re lined up. While their edges might meet, that doesn’t mean there aren’t crevices that dirt and water could sneak through. If you find that there are gaps, add extra support to the area.
Examine Their Quality
Another critical thing to do is check the wood pile’s condition. You’ll want to study the pieces to confirm the timber doesn’t show signs of rot or termite damage. If you notice things such as tunneling or softness, the wood is in a poor state.
Research the Contractor
It’s also vital to learn more about the contractor you intend to buy from. Some things to consider include:
- How long they’ve been in business.
- Their reviews.
- Their inventory.
You might also consider contacting them and asking some questions beforehand. This can give you a better idea of their selections and whether you think they’re a good fit.
Wood sheet piles might not be heavily relied on, but they’re great for temporary and light projects. By keeping this guide in mind, you can determine whether this material is right for your site’s requirements.