Different Types Pile Foundations And What Are Their Usage

pile foundations

Piles are an excellent alternative for the deep foundation in the projects located in densely populated and limited access areas.

They are also great if you have a weak layer of soil underneath your building. They can help you transfer the load to deep strong strata.

Piles are often the choice for the engineer in the complex expensive project, which is associated with a high level of human life and financial risk. One such example of a project is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, whose piles are dug several kilometres under the ground.

In this article, we will be discussing various types of pile foundations based on different gauges of categorization.

There are several types of pile foundations.

The number of types varies based on the way how you classify them. Piles can be categorized based on three criteria: the function of the pile, the type of the material of the pile, and whether they cause displacement in the soil during installation. The number of types of piles based on these three criteria is following:

  1. There are in total 7 types of piles based on their function.
  2. There are mainly four types of piles based on the material used to make them.
  3. There in total two types based on the fact whether piles installation causes displacement of soil or not.

These types are listed below. There can be further subtypes of the piles, which are also listed below.

Types Of Piles Based On Function

pile foundations Based On Function
  1. bearing piles
  2. friction piles
  3. friction-cum-bearing piles
  4. batter piles
  5. guide piles
  6. sheet piles
  7. mini piles

Types Of Piles Base On Material

pile foundations Base On Material
  1. timber piles
  2. concrete piles
  3. Sand piles
  4. steel piles

Types Of Piles Base On The Displacement Of Soil

Base On The Displacement Of Soil
  1. Displacement piles
  2. non-displacement piles

What Are Different Types Of Piles Foundation Based On Function

Bearing piles

Bearing pile foundations

Bearing piles are the most common types of pile foundations, which transfer the load directly from the top tip to the toe in the foundation. They act as a column. There can be several types of bearing piles. Most commonly you will find the following three types of piles.

  • Universal column H-sections
  • Tubular sections and
  • Box piles

Friction piles

These types of piles resist load by developing the frictional forces along the pile surface. The longer the length of the pile and greater is its area, the more is the amount of load it can resist.

To increase the frictional resistance of the pile surface, the roughness of the surface of the pile should be increased. Usually, the material used for them is either wood or concrete. This is because these materials have high surface friction resistance in comparison with steel, which has usually a smooth and slippery surface.

Friction cum bearing piles

As the name suggests, this category of pile combines the load-bearing mechanism of both the friction and bearing pile.

These piles are normally extended till medium stiff sands or clays. The medium stiffness is required to activate the bearing action in the pile while the rest of the resistance is provided by the frictional forces arising on its surface.

Batter piles

Batter piles

These piles are installed at an angle and are normally used to reinforce the slopes. Therefore they are one of the alternatives for slope stability applications.

The horizontal component of the internal resistive force developed in the battered pile is responsible for resisting the horizontal external load. The internal force developed in batter piles can be due to both the friction component and the bearing component or either of one.

Guide piles

Guide pile foundations

They are specialized types of piles used in the construction of cofferdam to perform stabilization for any submerged water construction.

Sheet piles

Sheet piles

As the name suggests, these piles are made of metal sheets inserted into the ground to resist lateral actions. They along with the batter piles are only two types of piles that resist horizontal forces.

They are usually made of thin steel sheets inserted into the ground. One can perceive their functioning as a retaining wall. Though in contrast the retaining wall which has soil on one end and the other end is exposed, these piles are completely inserted into the ground with soil all around.

Mini piles

mini piles

As the name says these piles are of small diameters ranging from 100 to 400 mm. They are usually installed in areas with limited access and hence therefore a great alternative for commercial and domestic construction projects in cities.

What Are Different Types Pile Foundations Based On The Displacement Of Soil

Displacement piles

Displacement Piles

Driving piles in soils causes lateral displacement of the soil. Therefore these piles are known as displacement piles. These types of piles allow densifying loose cohesion less soils until the distance of 3.5 times the pile diameter. Therefore they have increased the load-carrying capacity.

Non-displacement piles

These piles cause little or no displacement of soil during the installation. Examples include the piles with hollow cross-sections like piles with rolled steel sections or screw piles or open-ended hollow section piles.

Which Type Of Foundation Is Pile Foundations

Foundation used in civil engineering structures can be either deep or shallow foundations.

In cases when the depth of foundation is less in comparison to its width and it less than 1 m deep, it can be categorized as a deep foundation. Contractility if the depth of foundation is more than its width, it is a deep foundation. Shallow foundations are adopted in cases when the load-bearing capacity of soil is better.

On the other hand, deeper foundations are often used to transfer building loads to deep strong strata. Pile foundations is a type of deep foundation used most often in building with greater loads located on weaker soils.


To conclude, this article was all about different types of piles.

Piles are in total 6 types if categorized based on their function. They are of mainly four types if classified based on the material used to make them. Lastly, they are of two types based on the fact whether piles installation causes displacement of soil or not.