The term sheet pile refers to any retaining wall type that is a) installed into the ground by driving or pushing, rather than pouring or injection, and b) is of relatively thin cross-section and low weight so that the weight of the wall does not assist in the wall’s stability.
The modern sheet pile industry is a little more than 100 years old with perhaps the most important changes in type and selection of products occurring since the early 1970’s. Sheet pile have been used in a wide variety of applications, especially marine bulkheads and retaining walls where space is limited. In addition to these, a special type of retaining wall is the cellular cofferdam, which are used extensively for both temporary and permanent structures.
Sheet pile are made in a number of materials. The material chosen depends upon a number of factors including both strength and environmental requirements. The designer must consider the possibility of material deterioration and its effect on the structural integrity of the system. Most permanent structures are constructed of steel or concrete. Concrete is capable of providing a long service life under normal circumstances but has relatively high initial costs when compared to steel sheet piling. They are more difficult to install than steel piling. Long-term field observations indicate that steel sheet piling provides a long service life when properly designed. Permanent installations should allow for subsequent installation of cathodic protection before excessive corrosion occurs.
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