9 Reasons Wood Piling is the Best Choice for a Foundation

Piling construction remains one of the most effective methods of providing maximum support for structures.

Pile construction is often chosen over other methods for one of two reasons: either the surface substrate of the building site is weak, or the structure being built will be exceptionally heavy. Weak substrate, most often loose dirt and sand, obviously should not have a foundation built directly upon it. Even a fairly stable surface may still not be suitable for high-rise buildings, water tanks, bridges and similar unusually heavy buildings with concentrated loads.

A pile and beam foundation relies on strong, usually cylindrical piles to be driven down to low depths, reaching either densely compacted soil capable of withstanding the structure's anticipated weight or to a layer of rock. The traditional pile is made of wood and this material still remains an excellent choice for pile and beam foundations today.

Wood piles and poles have nine major benefits, including:

1. Long History of Performance

Wood piles have a long rooted history and maintain their reputation of being a high-performance material. The city of Venice was built on 60' long wood piles, which still remain in place today. Even after steel and concrete pile construction have been introduced, wood pile and beam foundations are still an excellent choice due to a combination of many advantages, like those discussed below.

2. Ease of Installation

A desire for every construction project is to do the best job possible in the least amount of time. The more simplistic and efficient installation is, the better.

Due to the heavy nature of steel and concrete piles, a lot of preparation is required, as well as the use of special equipment. Wood piles are lighter weight and don't require the same equipment to safely install. In essence, wood pile installation is simpler and builders are less likely to make errors compared to construction with cumbersome and unforgiving steel or concrete.

3. Speed of Installation

In addition to being easier to install, wood piles have faster installation. Due to their lighter weight, wood piling is easier to maneuver and ensure the perfect placement. Projects involving steel or concrete can be more difficult and will certainly take more time than projects being built with wood piling.

Concrete also needs additional time to cure after it has been poured. Although rare among professional applications, there is always a chance with concrete that the wrong type is used and you end up with a foundation that will experience future structural issues.

The more efficient the building process, the less expensive it will be. Wood piles will reduce the overall construction costs of your foundation.

4. Readily Available

Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of construction is finalizing a design just to be left waiting for an unknown amount of time for your piles to arrive.

This isn't all that uncommon with steel and concrete piling, due to the manufacturing process and the heavy weight slowing delivery speed. Wood piling is faster in both aspects and Pine River Group can tailor deliveries to meet your needs. With over 100 flatbeds and self-unloading units, on-time delivery direct to your job site is possible.

From a contractor's position, the faster you can get your materials and begin construction, the happier your client will be and the quicker you can move on to other projects.

5. Renewable Resource

Eco-friendly or "green" construction can apply to piling and beam foundation just as it would any other structure. Wood piles are a renewable resource, commonly made from fast-growing wood species and if purchased from reputable sources, like Pine River Group, will have been harvested from responsibly managed forests. From this perspective, wood piling is better for the environment than both concrete and steel.

6. Cost Effectiveness

Pile and beam foundations are one of the most economical foundations, ideal for projects where strength and affordability are key. Wood piling is about as natural as you can get when it comes to construction materials. Being a natural material, wood doesn't have the same complicated manufacturing process as other materials. After harvesting, cutting and pressure-treating, piles are ready to be delivered.

Steel piling requires a considerable amount of manufacturing and machining, which contribute to higher costs. Similarly, concrete piling requires caissons which can be very costly to obtain the quality that will create the strongest foundation for maximum performance. By and large making wood piling the most economical option, in addition to the numerous other advantages this material offers.

7. Less Weather Dependent

Cold weather isn't the ideal time to be building a pile or beam foundation, but if you do end up in such a situation, you'll find wood piles to be far more useful than steel or concrete. Wood piling is more flexible and under less than ideal conditions like bitter cold weather when the ground is still frozen, holes may be pre-drilled to aid installation. Concrete can't be poured in cold weather as it won't be able to cure properly.

8. Treated for Maximum Security

Wood foundation piles are treated with preservatives to ensure the highest retention possible of basically any other wood treated product. Pine River Group offers a variety of different preservatives, but a popular choice is CCA treated wood piles. CCA treated piles have a retention level of .80 for ground and freshwater application or .25 for salt water. On average, that means these wood piles have 3 times the retention level of standard products from other sources. Wood is also an excellent choice for salt water exposure compared to steel, which can quickly rust under the same conditions.

9. Elasticity of Wood

When it comes to construction it isn't always the stronger, more rigid material that is preferred. Materials that have a slight flex to them perform better under harsh conditions, as they can give slightly rather than becoming brittle against the pressure. Wood piles have the ideal amount of pliability in them. When placed in the ground, wood piles will allow the surrounding soil to adhere to them, which really improves strength without sacrificing structural integrity. Steel and concrete do not allow the soil to do this and neither are quite as suited to handle lateral ground force as wood piling.  

Pile construction using quality wood is a highly recommended route for pile and beam foundations. Pine River Group offers a variety of wood piling options as well as piles as long as 50'. Whether you're looking to build a solid foundation on a waterfront or urban based property, the benefits discussed above undoubtedly show the edge wood piling has over both steel and concrete foundations.