Tim Reynolds, Building Research Establishment Phil Bates, Substructure. This paper was first published in GE’s January 2009 issue.
There is increased interest in the use of sustainable materials in construction. Timber piles are widely used in the US, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands, but very rarely used in the UK, other than for marine work. Although untreated timber piles installed below the water table can last hundreds of years, there is little experience of using this technique with UK-grown species of timber, nor is there an existing supply chain for bespoke graded or preservative treated pilings. This paper presents the results of an investigation into the potential of timber piling in the UK, covering aspects of structural and geotechnical design, economics, sustainability and suitable ground conditions.