When compared to other pile material such as steel or cement, timber piles have many advantages. Steel and concrete are heavier naturally, which means that they require an extensive deal of prep in order for them to be properly driven into the ground. Timber piling, on the other hand, is easier to handle and install. Depending on soil conditions and the nature of the location, timber piling may be the right choice for the job.
Advantages of Timber Piles
- Timber piles of regular size are available.
- Easy to install.
- Low possibility of damage.
- Timber piles can be cut off at any desired length after they are installed.
- If necessary, timber piles can be easily pulled out.
Disadvantages of Timber Piles
- Piles of longer lengths are not always available.
- It is difficult to obtain straight piles if the length is short.
- It is difficult to drive the pile if the soil strata are very hard.
- Spicing of timber pile is difficult.
- Timber or wooden piles are not suitable to be used as end-bearing piles.
- For durability of timber piles, special measures have to be taken. For example- wooden piles are often treated with preservative.
How Long Do Timber Piles Last
Timber piles can last up to 100 years if the wood is treated and has a concrete cap installed. If the wood piling is left untreated, it will survive up to 25 years before it begins to succumb to the elements. Many natural causes can play a role in the decay or deterioration of wood piles. Organic factors like fungus, barnacles, or animal waste can eat away at the timber piles. This all causes the wood to thin, effectively ruining the structural integrity of the piling.
Repairing Timber Piles
Solid timber piles are usually pressure treated with powerful preservatives. Over time, the treatment loses the ability to withstand environmental damage. This damage commonly happens along the waterline where organisms interact and waves make impact with the piling. Rotting in piles can be detected with special probes. Workers excavate around the affected pile to expose damage. The workers then remove any growths, previous coating, and fallen rotting material. A wrap, called a jacket, is then tightly applied to the timber pile. It is then filled with concrete to re-stabilize the pile at its base.
What Type of Wood is Best for Timber Piling
The type of wood chosen when building a dock directly influences the structure’s longevity and ability to withstand constant interaction with the elements. Some reliable wood types for building a dock are Western red cedar, redwood, cypress and eastern white cedar. Permanent timber piles should use stronger hardwoods like Douglas-Fir, tamarack and hemlock. Western larch, spruce and pine can substitute in the construction of permanent piles when the previously mentioned hardwoods are not available in sufficient quantity. This can be due to the season or location of the project.
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