Micropiles and Minipiles – Is There a Difference?

Micropiles and Minipiles – Is There a Difference?

If you’ve considered having your home underpinned, you may have looked around to find out what the options are. You’ve probably come across the references to minipile and micropile as effective ways of doing this — but what do these terms mean? What exactly is the difference, if any, between minipiles and micropiles?

What Is Piling?

Piling is a method of supporting any structure built on ground that isn’t strong enough close to the surface to give adequate support. Pillars of steel, sometimes afterwards filled with grout, are either driven or bored to a depth where the load can be transferred down to material that’s strong and dense enough to support it.

Traditionally, piling has been used for large construction and engineering projects, from bridges to oilrigs. Since the 1980s, however, smaller piles and equipment used to install them has led to the increasing use of piling for domestic buildings. In particular, it’s now the most common method for underpinning a house.

Micropile and Minipiles

The traditional piles used for large structures would be impractical for a domestic setting. This problem has led to smaller piles being developed, typically 100-250mm in diameter, that can be used in these settings. These are most often referred to as minipiles, but the alternative name micropiles is sometimes used, meaning the same.

These minipiles or micropiles come in various forms and methods of insertion. Bored piles are inserted into a pre-drilled hole, either by using sections to make up the pile or by injecting grout into the hole. Driven piles, on the other hand, are forced straight into the ground, so that the surrounding soil supports them.

When Are Micropile and Minipiles Used?

While piling techniques can be used to create the foundations of new builds, they are perhaps most valuable when a house needs to be underpinned. This is likely to be after subsidence that can’t be easily fixed. If, for example, the soil is weak or waterlogged, or there are excavations below the building, the piles will be able to transfer support from a greater depth.

The equipment for micropiling and minipiling is compact enough for use in a domestic home. The choice of which type to use depends largely on whether the main priority is to fit into a confined space or to avoid too much vibration. Lack of vibration, for instance, may be important for avoiding causing a nuisance to your neighbours.

If you choose the best among the minipiling contractors you check out, they’ll be able to advise you of the advantages and disadvantages of all the options. Give us a call to find out more about minipiles and micropiles or read more on piling services and piling techniques.