Plastic sheet piling is made from recycled PVC, and has been available for close to 20 years in the UK. PVC brings several advantages to sheet piling, particularly in terms of product longevity, it does not rust or rot and so is ideal for permanent applications that need a low maintenance solution.
The ease of manual handling, due to the low weight of the sheet piles is becoming more of an asset; enabling the product to be carried to very access restricted sites. In terms of major schemes, this low weight reduces the number requried deliveries- less site nuisance and lower carbon foot print. Plastic sheet piling competes directly with trench sheeting and hot rolled steel sheet piling. However, over the years it has carved itself a niche between the two, for those applications that require the water tighteness of a hot rolled section, but not neccessarily the strength.
Older designs of plastic piles, such as the Economy (Standard) Z pile, are extremely lightweight and so limited in terms of drivability and load support. This has greatly improved in recent years with the introduction of the heavy duty Z and U sheet piles, and further enhanced with our introduction of the advanced sheet piles, MultiLock, ProLock and Truline.
Plastic Piling has finally matured in to a tangible and effective sheet piling product, providing a viable alternative and in many cases a marked improvement over timber and steel piling. The introduction of the hybrids, providing a hard engineered alternative to popular timber staked geotextiles.
These products have also enhanced the appearance of hard engineered structures, plastic piling provides a very attractive aesthetic, compared to the industrial look of repeated corrugations.
Sheet Piling is a long established technique used in major civil engineering projects. Applications typically are those that need to retain or exclude, and this remains true with plastic sheet piling. Plastic Piling soon found a niche in water control applications, particularly scour and erosion control, landscaping, ditch blocking and flood management.
This is perhaps the one question we get asked most, and in fairness it was one touted a lot by the early producers of the budget plastic piles. In reality this only hold for applications where strength is irrelevant so long as the pile can be driven to depth – for instance cut-off walls. In this scenario the excellent longevity of the plastic piling combined with the good water tightness, enables these product to compete with much more expensive hot rolled steel sheet piling.
When strength is an issue, then when comparing plastic sheet piles against an equivalently strong steel pile, we would expect a comparability in material and hence sheet pile price. It is important to note that the material price for plastic, particularly recycled plastic has remained stable for many years and as such unlike price flucatuation seen with steel, plastic pile can offer you price stability.
The clear exception to this is the plastic piling hybrids, combining cheap softwood with MultiLock Plastic Piling provides and extremely good value solution. With much of a sheet pile buried from view, sometimes twice as much, using a system that minimises the amount of sheet pile to just where you need it can provide substantial cost savings. The hybrid system has been proven to last, yes timber will rot when exposed to an oxygenated area but is exceptional rot stable in a more anaerobic environment. As long as the plastic pile and hybrid overklap beneath the ground the combined structure will last a very long time. For those still concerned we are extrenmely pleased to have added plastic posts to our range – call 01543 677290 for more information
When considering price of plastic piling, it is important to also look at installation, not all sheet piles will install the same. In general, thin and narrower sheets will be installed less efficiently, and hence only suitable for use in short lengths. Mid range products such as MultiLock are one of the fastest installing pile options we offer, both on its own or as the rapid install hybrid.
The size of the equipment you can use, will also infuelce speed of installation and costs, in hard driving conditions, more power is needed. Again the exception, or perhaps alternative, is the hybrid kingpost, in which timber or plastic posts these have less surface area and so generate less friction during installation, this will translate into faster installation, or enable installation with smaller equipment.
Plastic piling hold many advantages over steel, including longevity, chemical resistance, lightness, spark proof and with the recent introduction of Hammerman advanced plastic piles aesthetic is a key area, these new plastic piles look good.
Some applications need the properties of plastic but with the strength of steel, others want better value or economy, other sites have severe access restriction and so are limited in terms of what equipment they can use. For these sites we are pleased to offer the original Hammerman system hybrid technology combining plastic, timber, steel and concrete. Combining the best of both materials!