Sheet pile walls are retaining walls constructed to retain earth, water or any other fill material.
Sheet pile walls are generally used for the following:
1. Water front structures, for example, in building wharfs, quays, and piers
2. Building diversion dams, such as cofferdams
3. River bank protection
4. Retaining the sides of cuts made in earth
Sheet piles may be of timber, reinforced concrete or steel. Timber piling is used for short spans and to resist light lateral loads. They are mostly used for temporary structures such as braced sheeting in cuts. If used in permanent structures above the water level, they require preservative treatment and even then, their span of life is relatively short. Timber sheet piles are joined to each other by tongue-and-groove joints as indicated in Fig. 20.1. Timber piles are not suitable for driving in soils consisting of stones as the stones would dislodge the joints.
Reinforced concrete sheet piles are precast concrete members, usually with a tongue-and-groove joint. Typical section of piles are shown in Fig. 20.2. These piles are relatively heavy and bulky. They displace large volumes of solid during driving. This large volume displacement of soil tends to increase the driving resistance. The design of piles has to take into account the large driving stresses and suitable reinforcement has to be provided for this purpose.
The most common types of piles used are steel sheet piles. Steel piles possess several advantages over the other types. Some of the important advantages are:
1. They are resistant to high driving stresses as developed in hard or rocky material
2. They are lighter in section
3. They may be used several times
4. They can be used either below or above water and possess longer life
5. Suitable joints which do not deform during driving can be provided to have a continuous wall
6. The pile length can be increased either by welding or bolting
Steel sheet piles are available in the market in several shapes. Some of the typical pile sections are
shown in Fig. 20.3. The archweb and Z-piles are used to resist large bending moments, as in anchored or cantilever walls. Where the bending moments are less, shallow-arch piles with corresponding smaller section moduli can be used. Straight-web sheet piles are used where the web will be subjected to tension, as in cellular cofferdams. The ball-and-socket type of joints, Fig. 20.3 (d), offer less driving resistance than the thumb-and-finger joints, Fig. 20.3 (c).
Figure 20.1 Timber pile wall section
Figure 20.2 Reinforced concrete Sheet pile wall section
Figure 20.3 Sheet pile sections