Methods of Installing Piles


A pile is a post-like device used as a support in construction. The use of piles goes back to prehistoric times, and has continued into the modern world. Today, many types of structures use piles for support. While undertaking a construction project that might involve the use of piles, it is important to familiarize yourself with the different ways to install the piles.


  • The most basic way to drive a pile into the ground is to do so with a hammer. When attempting to drive a pile with a hammer, you must take note of the size and weight of the pile, the level of resistance you expect to encounter from the ground, and the available space for the work to be done. Two common problems that can arise during hammer driving are springing and bouncing. Springing is excessive lateral vibration of the pile. This could result from the pile being out of alignment. Bouncing is usually a sign that your hammer is too light.

Single-Acting Steam or Mechanical Hammers

  • Single-acting steam and compressed air hammers can also be used to drive piles into the ground. These types of machines operate by raising a heavy hammer to the top of a tube through the use of air and/or steam, and then releasing all that steam or air, causing the hammer to drop.

Diesel Hammers

  • Diesel hammers raise the hammer through an explosion of gas. They are more powerful than single-acting steam hammers, but don't work on all types of ground.


  • Vibration is another way to drive piles into the ground. Vibrating hammers are usually powered with electricity and hydraulics, and work by contra-rotating eccentric masses within a housing that attaches at the pile's head. This method is best used in sandy or gravelly soil.


  • Jetting is another popular method of driving piles. Jetting uses pressurized water to drive the piles into the ground. Jetting does not work very well in ground with firm or stiff clay or a lot of gravel.


  • Auguring is another form of pile installation. Several types of auguring exist, but they are all essentially the boring of a whole into the ground into which either a pile is dropped or a material, such as concrete, is poured.

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