Helical piers and piles are terms that can be used interchangeably at times. In fact, they are two different materials in construction. Both can be described as a screw-like instrument that digs into the ground to create a sturdy foundation for heavy structures.
Some ways the two construction methods differ are as follows:
- Column-like foundation
- “Pier” is used to indicate heavy masonry column units used in structures like basements
- Larger in size and diameter than piles
- Almost always made using concrete
- Made with a round shaft on the pile when digging
- Installed into the ground to resist or transfer loads sitting on top of it
- Used for deeply driven foundations
- Used for vertical piling, like underpinning or horizontal piling, which is made to resist pressure from waves or other elements
- Foundation piles are typically made of long steel, concrete, or wood sections
- Made with a square shaft for digging deep and adding extra sturdiness
Helical piles and piers can be used to repair foundations along with creating them. Once foundations are exposed to water over a long period of time or construction is done on unstable soil, structural and foundation damage becomes apparent. Helical piers and piles can also be used to repair foundations when foundation failure becomes apparent.