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Siraj Ali Aamir
CH2M Hill International BV
Geotechnical Engineering Department
Abu Dhabi- United Arab Emirates
May 20th, 2013
Steel sheet pile walls are constructed by driving
steel sheets into a slope or excavation. Their
most common use is within temporary deep
excavations. They are considered to be most
economical where retention of higher earth
pressures of soft soils is required.
They have an important advantage in that they
can be driven to depths below the excavation
bottom and so provide a control to heaving in
soft clays or piping in saturated sands. This is
not possible with the Soldier pile which is also
a more permeable structure. However sheet
piles are more costly and less adaptable to hard
driving conditions particularly where boulders
or irregular rock surfaces occur.
Easy driving conditions are experienced in clays,
sands, and clayey sand mixture due to the
comparatively small displacement of soil.
However they may permit large movements in
weak soils and also effective de-watering is often
required since they do not provide a watertight
boundary. Seepage commonly occurs through the
interlocks and this can be sufficient enough to
cause consolidation of organic soils and soft Silty
clays, (compressible materials). For sandy soils
ravelling will not occur if the interlocks are tight,
but driving sheet piles into loose sand can cause
Depending upon the material used in their
manufacture, some of the types of sheet piles
Wooden sheet piles
Precast concrete Sheet piles
Pre-stressed concrete sheet piles
Steel sheet piles
1. Wooden sheet piles:
In places where excavation is small and the
ground water problem is not serious, 5 cm x
30 cm to 10 cm x 30 cm wooden planks
arranged in a simple row will serve the
Each pile is made up of two planks, either
spiked or bolted to one another.
If the water-tightness is required to a great
extent, lapped sheet piling is used.
If complete water tightness is desired or
pressure of the retained material Wakefield or
tongue and grooved sheeting is generally
Wakefield piles:
1. This type of pile is made with three planks, 5
cm, 8 cm or 10 cm in thickness.
The planks are nailed together with the
middle plank offset forming a tongue on one
edge and a groove on the other.
The planks are connected by using a pair of
staggered bolts at 80 cm centre to centre at
intermediate points.
The triple lap piles prove stronger in driving.
There is no wastage in forming the tongue
and groove joints and the piles have fewer
tendencies to warp.
Timber sheet piles have light weight and as
such the equipment required for pile driving
is also light.
2. Precast concrete sheet piles:
Precast concrete piles are made in square or rectangular
cross-section and are driven similar to wooden piles to
form a continuous wall.
The interlock between two piles is normally provided
with the help of tongue and groove joint.
The tongue and grooves extend to the full length of the
piles in most of the cases.
An alternative method of providing joint between two
piles is shown below. In this method, after the piles are
driven to the required depth, the joint is grouted with
cement mortar 1: 2 (1 cement: 2 sand).
The piles are reinforced to avoid formation of cracks due
to rough handling or shrinkage stresses.
Reinforced concrete sheet piles are bulky and heavy
and as such they are gradually being superseded by prestressed concrete piles.
In order to reduce the possibility of damage due to
driving impact, the stirrups should be spaced closely
near the top and bottom of the piles.
3. Pre- Stressed Concrete Sheet Piles:
pre-stressed concrete sheet piles are commonly used for sheet piling jobs.
They are reinforced on both the faces so that they could be handled from
either side.
They are comparatively lighter in weight, more durable and economical in
the long run.
They are advantageously used in sea water, since the danger of cracking of
concrete is negligible and also the corresponding danger of corrosion of
pile reinforcement is reduced.
4. Steel sheet piles:
Steel sheet pile is a rolled steel section
consisting of a plate called the web with
integral interlocks on each edge.
The interlocks consist of a groove, one of
whose legs has been suitably flattened. This
flattening forms the tongue which fits into
the groove of the second sheet.
Commonly used sheet piles can be broadly
divided into the following three categories:
Straight-web type
Shallow or deep arched-web type
Z web type
The selection of the type of pile and the
section to be adopted depend upon the
depths up to which the pile is to be driven,
the nature of soil to be penetrated the
elevation of the earthen embankment,
ground water level etc.
Straight web type of piles are used where
the piles are liable to be subjected to tensile
forces and interlocking strength is of prime
importance (Cellular cofferdam etc).
Arched-web type are used where the piles are required to resist bending
stresses (in cantilever retaining walls etc,)
Z-web type of piles arc used where the piles are required to resist bending
stresses of very large magnitude.
Steel sheet piles are driven with the help of pile drivers which may be of drop
hammer type or single or double acting hammer driven by steam or
compressed air.
The outstanding feature of steel sheet piles is that they can be used for greater
The continuous interlocking arrangement of the piles gives strength and
rigidity to the supported structure.
A wall made from properly driven sheet piles leaks very little, hence steel
sheet piling is used with advantage in the construction of deep cofferdams.
They are commonly used in coastal defence works which are likely to be
subjected to tidal action.
Z-Type Steel Sheet
Z-shaped sheet piles are called Z’s,
because the single piles are shaped
roughly like a horizontally
stretched Z.
The interlocks are located as far
away from the neutral axis as
possible to ensure good shear
transmission and increase the
strength-to-weight ratio.
Z piles are the most common type
of sheet pile in North America and
can be used in a wide variety of
parking garages, environmental
barrier walls, and bulkhead walls
for ports are just a few of their
varied uses.
Types Based on Interlocking & Degree of Swing:
AZ Sheet Piles:
The AZ range of sheet piles is the most advanced in the world.
Arbed introduced the AZ line in 1990 and is committed to
continuously improving the sections through ongoing, aggressive
research. The AZ's now cover the widest range of strengths
representing the strongest, most efficient sheet piles in the industry.
2. PZ Sheet Piles
PZ sections have been
manufactured in the US for
many years and are widely
recognized by the ball and
socket interlock. The PZ
sections are good sections for
reuse because of their
durability of the interlock.
The ball and socket interlock
also allows as much as ten
degrees of swing for turning
tight curves on the jobsite
3. SCZ/SKZ Sheet Piles
SCZ/SKZ piles are cold formed
sheet piles produced from steel
coil. SCZ/SKZ shapes are
generally wide, light, and
efficient and are usually used in
lighter applications than hot
rolled sheets. There are many
options to choose from due to
the ease of manufacturing. The
variety of SCZ/SKZ sections is
made up of five different sizes
in several thicknesses. The
interlock on the SCZ/SKZ piles
allows 10 degrees of swing.
Flat sheet piles work differently from other
sheet piles. Most sheet piles rely on their
bending strength and stiffness to retain the
soil or water. Flat sheet piles are formed in
circles and arcs to create gravity cells. The
cells are held together through the tensile
strength of the interlock. The tensile strength
of the lock and the allowable rotation of the
lock are the two main design characteristics.
The flat sheet pile cells can be made to huge
diameters and heights and withstand a great
deal of pressure.
AS sections are the strongest
flat sheets in the world. The
allows very tall, large
diameter cells to be built.
The AS sheets can swing 4.5
degrees per interlock for
most piles and any pile over
65.6 feet (20 m), in length has
4.0 degrees of allowable
swing. There are a total of
five different thicknesses for
the AS 500 series, allowing
the piles to be sized to fit
The PS sheets are an
sheet with a very large
The 6.2 degree swing
per interlock allows
designers to configure
very small cells. There
are currently two PS
sections made and they
can handle almost all
U sheet piles retain soil and water just like Z
piles with one important difference: U piles
have the interlock on the neutral axis. The
placement of the lock in the centerline of the
wall reduces the efficiency of the section and
can cause reduction of section properties
because of shear transfer problems.
1. AU/PU Sheet Pile
 The
AU and PU
sections are some of
the most efficient U
piles on the market.
The AU series is very
wide, making it an
excellent option for
The pan shaped cold
form sheet piles are
much smaller than most
other sheet piles and are
only intended for short,
lightly loaded walls.
The pan type sections
are often used on
private homes, and golf
SKL Sheet Piles:
The SKL range is
specifically designed for
the lightest retaining
walls. The sections are
very light so they can be
handled and installed
with small equipment.
The profile is also only
3.5 inches deep so it can
be installed in locations
with limited space.
SKS Sheet Piles:
The SKS range is
slightly larger than
the SKL range. The
SKS sheets are very
wide so they are
excellent for low, long
walls where speed of