HomePostsCase Study # 1: Building a Home Deck with Helical Piles
Case Study # 1: Building a Home Deck with Helical Piles
GoliathTech - 9 September 2021
GOLIATHTECH UNIVERSITY: TUTORIAL 8
EXPLORE THE OPTIONS AND BENEFITS
There are several ways to approach building a deck with helical piles. And your choice will be based on a range of variables such as the amount of space you have, soil type, cost, and so on. For example, a 24’ x 24’ deck attached to your home is relatively large as far as decks go, yet it’s well within the realm of what we consider to be standard.
Because of the elevated capacity for compression and tension numbers with a helical pile, if we wanted to do a very exaggerated example, we could put this whole deck on one, say, 4 ½’’ helical pile right in the middle. This one pile would have more than enough capacity to support the whole structure. Of course, even though we can do it, we wouldn’t suggest it to our customers because it’s just not practical. This is due to the fact that the under-structure required to stop any bounce and to control the balance, would far outweigh any cost savings you’d have by using only one pile.
A STARTING POINT FOR ANY PROJECT
Continuing with the 24’ x 24’ deck example, we could easily support this size deck with only two piles, one on each corner. Again, not an issue for the helical piles because the capacities are so high, yet what becomes an issue is the very large span between the two supports. In this case, you’d need to install an under structure to stabilize the space between these two points.
Whatever project you decide to do next, be it a deck, a home foundation, a manufactured home foundation (check out our video about manufactured homes), or a shed, pretty much any structure that requires a foundation can be installed on helical piles. A good starting point for a project is what we in the industry call “pile spacing”. For instance, eight feet is a really good span to gage the number of piles as it’s a compromise between size and costs of the structure and the pile itself.
SMALL VS. LARGE PILES
It’s more cost-effective to have smaller piles than it is to have fewer large piles because, as you can imagine, when you go to larger piles, the cost per pile increases and the equipment needed to install the piles is larger, and therefore more money. The same goes for the equipment we need to transport the installation equipment. In other words, each step becomes exponentially more expensive the larger we go, so that’s why an eight-feet pile spacing is a sensible starting point.
THE BENEFITS OF SMALLER HELICAL PILES
In the example of the home deck build, instead of having one large helical pile, we would probably have 12 1 7/8” size piles (check out the GoliathTech piles page for more on our screw pile sizes). This would be much more cost-effective as far as the structure goes, because we don’t have huge spans between the piles, and it’s also relatively economical as well for smaller helical piles as opposed to using one large helical pile.
Related to the actual placement of the piles, if you imagine how it would be for a traditional sonotube or pad foundation, or for a footing under your deck, the placement of the helical piles would be exactly the same for your deck builder.
GoliathTech offers a range of warranty backed tubes and helices according to the weight to be supported for your project, and the type of soil. Check out our range of screw pile projects to see all that is possible with this foundational technology.