Screw piles are being used in more and more construction projects. But if you’re not already familiar with them, the concept can require some explaining. So, in this post, we’ll be looking at what screw piles do, how they work, and where they should be used.

What Do Screw Piles Do and Where Should You Use Them?

What do screw piles do?

Screw Piles were originally designed to overcome specific engineering challenges but now also offer a low impact and compelling alternative to concrete. Replacing the traditional concrete base found beneath the majority of structures, screw piles provide load-bearing support for a range of structural forms. The benefit of screw piles over other forms of foundational support is that their installation is not weather dependent. They can be used in a variety of conditions, including in sand. Screwpile installation creates little noise and little vibration, and no need for earth moving often making them more appealing than traditional piling which can be messy and loud.

How do screw piles work?

Screw piles are made up of circular steel sections with attached helices, allowing them to be wound into the earth – much like a screw into wood. Different forms of helical flights are used to suit different soil conditions, allowing for maximum stability. Once the piles have been wound into the earth to the correct length, they are ready to be use[EH1] d. Helping to properly distribute the weight of the structure that will be built above.

What’s the difference between screw piles and ground screws? 

The primary difference between ground screws and screw piles is that they carry their loads in different ways. Meaning that screw piles can usually take more weight, and are less susceptible to heave. Unlike ground screws, screw piles also don’t usually require pilot holes, so they can be quicker to install.

Will screw piles rust?

Yes and no. Screw piles are made from steel, which means that they can be subject to rust. However, the way that they are designed means that rust will not impair the performance of screw piles. This is primarily due to the fact that screw piles are created with ‘sacrificial thickness’, meaning that they are made bigger than they need to be to allow for any damage caused by rust through the years.  Some screw piles are also galvanised or given cathodic protection to prevent rust formation. 

When to use screw piles?

Screw piles can be used for a wide variety of construction projects. From home improvement projects, like decking, garden sheds, home extensions, man caves or garden rooms, to commercial projects. Screw piles are commonly used for stage construction for music festivals. And one of their original uses was for the construction of piers and other water-based structures.

Screw piles are not a one-size-fits-all solution for foundations. There are some conditions – such as gravel and rock – where they simply can’t be used. But in the right conditions, they provide a strong, versatile, low-effort solution that has the potential to be extremely cost-effective and much more environmentally friendly than traditional methods.

To find out whether screw piles might be the right choice for your next project, get in touch with UK Helix.

Disclaimer –Information in this blog does not in any way constitute building advice or guidance for private or commercial building projects.

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