With its light weight, strength, versatility and sustainability, steel is one of the most popular and efficient building materials on Earth.
The world produced more than 1,600 million tonnes of steel in 2016 alone. Steel is also an eco-friendly material and is the most recycled material on Earth with up to 90 percent recycled content.
In the United States, steel continues to be a popular building material, especially in the construction industry. The United States is one of the top steel-producing industries in the world and employs more than 142,000 people. In 2017, the U.S. produced up to 82 million metric tons of steel and in February 2018, the production of raw steel was up to more than 1.75 million net tons.
In the United States construction industry, steel is used in many forms but one of the most important is in steel sheet piling. Sheet piling is used to hold back walls, shifting soil or water breeches on construction projects. Steel sheet piling is placed at various intervals and the steel sheet piles interlock with each other to form a retaining wall.
When done correctly, steel sheet piling can eliminate collapses, water breeches and other risks on a construction site.
One of the most common types of retaining walls is the H-pile, which is a type of soldier pile where steel piles are inserted into drilled holes. These are dimensionally square beams that are driven into the ground when working on deeper foundations.
As with any type of retaining structure, there are many advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include:
- They are inexpensive to build
- They are fast to build
- Lagging construction is often fast
- They are versatile and can be adjusted
- They are a great retaining option of beginning builders
The disadvantages include:
- They are usually used for temporary construction
- At times they are not as durable as other retaining systems
- They should not be be used in high-water table conditions. Doing so would require water removal before they are used.
Whether you’re using steel sheet piling, concrete cold rolled steel or hot rolled steel, wood or something else, there are many building materials and options available for building up a strong retaining wall. While a soldier pile might work best for one project, a cantilever or braces might work better for other situations.
DIY provides a handy guide for all you need to know about retaining walls.
The Landscaping Network also has a basics guide to retaining walls.
Family Handyman can help you choose the right material for your retaining wall.
Angie’s List can help you find a reputable steel supplier if that is the best fit for your retaining wall.