Sheet Piling: Difference Between Temporary and Permanent Sheet piling

Temporary Sheet Piling


Temporary sheet-piling is a construction technique used to provide temporary support to excavations or to retain soil or water temporarily during construction activities. It involves the installation of interlocking steel sheets, typically made of steel or vinyl materials, into the ground to create a barrier that holds back soil or water.

Temporary sheet piling is commonly used in a variety of construction projects, such as foundation excavation, underground utility installations, bridge construction, and marine works. It provides a safe and efficient method to create a temporary barrier and prevent the collapse of excavations or protect adjacent structures from ground movement.

The installation process involves driving or vibrating the sheet piles into the ground using hydraulic or mechanical equipment. The interlocking design of the sheets allows them to fit tightly together and form a continuous barrier. They can be installed vertically or at an angle, depending on the site conditions and the desired level of excavation support.

Once the construction activity is completed, the temporary sheet piling can be removed, reused, or left in place if no longer needed. The removal process typically involves extracting the sheets using specialist equipment, such as a vibratory hammer or a hydraulic press.

Temporary sheet piling is a cost-effective and versatile solution for providing temporary support during construction activities. It is often preferred over other methods, such as soil nailing or soldier pile and lagging, due to its ease of installation, flexibility, and ability to be quickly adapted to changing site conditions.

Permanent Sheet Piling

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Permanent sheet piling refers to the use of sheet piles made from durable materials, such as steel or vinyl, to create a long-term retaining wall or barrier. These sheet piles are designed to withstand high loads and provide long-lasting support for excavations, waterfronts, and other construction projects.

Permanent sheet piling is typically used in situations where the retaining wall or barrier needs to be in place for an extended period of time. It is commonly employed in applications such as:

  1. Waterfront structures: Permanent sheet piling is frequently used in the construction of docks, sea walls, and other waterfront structures to prevent erosion and control water levels.
  2. Flood control: Sheet piles can be used to create sturdy and reliable flood walls to protect against flooding and the potential damage caused by rising water levels.
  3. Underground structures: Permanent sheet piling is commonly used in the construction of underground facilities such as basements and tunnels to provide support and prevent water infiltration.
  4. Bridge abutments and bridge piers: Sheet piles can be used to create stable foundations for bridge abutments and piers, providing a solid base for the bridge structure.
  5. Cofferdams: Permanent sheet piling is often used in the construction of cofferdams, which are temporary enclosures designed to allow for construction in areas below the water level.

Permanent sheet piling is installed by driving or vibrating the sheet piles into the ground. Interlocking mechanisms between the individual sheet piles ensure a tight and stable connection, creating a strong and durable wall or barrier.

The choice of sheet pile material and design will depend on factors such as soil conditions, the required retaining capacity, and the project’s lifespan. Steel sheet piles are more commonly used due to their strength and versatility, but vinyl sheet piles are also gaining popularity due to their corrosion resistance and environmental benefits.

What are the differences between temporary and permanent sheet piling?

The main difference between temporary and permanent sheet-piling lies in their intended duration of use and design considerations. Here are the key distinctions between the two:


1. Duration of Use: Temporary sheet-piling is designed to be used for a limited period, typically during construction or excavation activities. Once the construction project is completed, the temporary sheet-piling is removed. In contrast, permanent sheet-piling is designed to be a long-term or permanent part of the structure or infrastructure, providing ongoing support and stability.

2. Structural Design: Temporary sheet-piling is often designed with a focus on cost-effectiveness and ease of installation. It may not require the same level of structural strength and durability as permanent sheet-piling. Permanent sheet-piling, on the other hand, is designed to withstand long-term loads, environmental conditions, and potential impacts such as wave action or soil movement.

3. Material Selection: Temporary sheet-piling is commonly made of materials like vinyl, timber, or lightweight metals such as aluminum. These materials are often chosen for their ease of handling, installation, and cost-effectiveness. Permanent sheet-piling, on the other hand, is typically made of materials with higher strength and durability, such as steel or reinforced concrete, to ensure long-term stability and resistance to corrosion or degradation.

4. Installation Method: Temporary sheet piling is often installed using methods that allow for quick and easy installation and removal, such as driving or vibrating the sheet piles into the ground. Permanent sheet piling may require more specialized installation techniques, such as pre-auguring or pre-drilling, to ensure proper alignment, interlocking, and stability.

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5. Design Considerations: Temporary sheet piling is typically designed to provide temporary support and containment during construction activities, such as creating cofferdams or excavations. It may prioritize ease of installation, cost-effectiveness, and speed of construction. Permanent sheet piling, on the other hand, is designed to provide long-term stability, often considering factors such as load-bearing capacity, durability, and resistance to environmental forces such as water pressure or soil movement.

6. Maintenance and Durability: Temporary sheet piling may require minimal maintenance since it is not intended for long-term use. Permanent sheet piling, however, may require regular inspections, maintenance, and potential repairs or corrosion protection measures to ensure its ongoing effectiveness and longevity.

It is important to carefully consider the specific project requirements, site conditions, and expected duration of use when selecting between temporary and permanent sheet piling. Consulting with a geotechnical engineer or a sheet piling specialist is recommended to determine the most suitable type of sheet piling for a specific project.

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