Drilled Pier for Home Foundation

Drilled Pier vs. Pile: Which Is Right For Your Foundation Repair?

For folks outside the construction industry, drilled piers and piles are more or less interchangeable terms. After all, they’re both processes for strengthening a foundation, but we will discuss some differences between a pier foundation vs. pile foundation. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between a drilled pier vs. pile. While the two are similar in that they both resist or transfer heavy vertical and horizontal loads, they operate behind different mechanisms.

What Are Foundation Piles?

Piles are structural columns made from either steel or concrete. They’re used for underpinning foundations and transferring the weight of the load to deeper soil layers or bedrock. Piles get their load-bearing capacity by end-bearing the soil and from the friction generated between the surrounding soil and pile’s side surface.

The depth at which piles are driven is very important and determines their success rate. Piles are pushed into the soil until they reach “refusal.” This means they are pushed into the ground until they reach the point where they begin lifting the structure they’re supporting.

What is a drilled pier foundation?

With a drilled pier, a hole is drilled into the ground. A steel cage is inserted into the hole and concrete is poured over. The pier may reach the soil bedrock or even exceed it. It may also not reach the deeper bedrock at all. An evaluation determines the depth of the hole and diameter. In any case, piers are designed to support between 120% to 150% of the structure’s weight.

Drilled Pier vs Pile: Comparison at a Glance

Now let’s take a look at driven piers and piles when compared side to side for a better understanding of how they differ.

  • Piles consist of vertical pillars made from concrete or steel. Piers are similar in size and shape.
  • Piles are often used when the soil lacks firm strata, such as bedrock.
  • Piles are usually meant for supporting greater loads, such as highway bridges. Learn more about when to use concrete piles. Piers are meant for smaller applications, such as sheds and small living units.

We Install Piers and Piles

There is no need to figure out on your own whether your home requires piles or a pier to stabilize your foundation. Contact us at Align Foundation Repair, and we will send a crew member out for a free audit to make an assessment and determine which foundation reinforcement is best for your needs in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Jackhammer being used for drilled pier foundation repair

Types of Drilled Piers Used in North Texas

When it comes to foundation repair, a variety of solutions are available in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. No one solution is better than another; it comes down to what is best for a particular building type and the soil condition it rests on. Usually, this includes some form of pier. We’ll go over the three main types of piers and how they work as a foundation reinforcement.

1. Concrete Piers

This is the most common pier type with a wide range of applications due to their durable reliability and affordability. This is also known as “pressed concrete piers” or simply “pressed piers.” Installers use a hydraulic press to drive the concrete cylinder into the ground. For additional stability and load-bearing capacity, the concrete caps are reinforced with steel plates.

2. Drilled Piers

Drilled concrete piers are quite versatile. This is because the piers do not rely on the weight of the structure to press them down and keep them stable. This makes it a popular solution for pier and beam and slab foundations.

With drilled piers, a hole is dug using an auger. A rebar is installed in the hole and is filled with heavy-duty concrete. Despite the durability of drilled piers, the use of an auger does create a more invasive installment process. This includes heavier noise traffic and possible foundation disruption in adjacent areas.

3. Steel Piers

Steel piers offer even more durability than concrete piers and are usually recommended as support for extremely heavy structures, such as public multi-story facilities. Some steel piers are installed outside the foundation perimeter using hydraulic rams and a bracket that transfers the weight of the structure to the piers. Other steel piers are installed right under the perimeter grade beam.

The piers consist of hollow steel pipes that can be filled with cement and grout to protect against rust and upheaval. Like concrete piers, steel piers may also be reinforced with steel cables.

We Install All Pier Types

The Northern Texas area contains diverse soil conditions. As such, there is no single pier type that is ideal for every situation. Contact Align Foundation Repair for an inspection to determine the best foundation remediation for your residential or commercial structure.