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What is the Difference Between Drill Shafts and Driven Piles?

Bridge Média - 31 August 2023

When it comes to building a strong and stable foundation, there are various options available, including drilled shafts, driven piles, and helical piers

These foundation support systems play a crucial role in ensuring the structural integrity of buildings and infrastructure projects

In this article, we will take a closer look at each of these foundation solutions and their differences. We will also highlight why helical (screw) piles emerge as a superior choice for many construction scenarios

So, let's dig into the world of foundation support!

Exploring the Power of Drilled Shafts

Unearthing the Depths: Exploring the Power of Drilled Shafts

Drilled shafts, also commonly known as drilled piers or bored piles, are a type of deep foundation system used in construction. 

These shafts are created by drilling cylindrical holes into the ground using specialized equipment such as a drilling rig

The holes are typically filled with concrete or grout, providing structural support and transferring loads from the superstructure to deeper, more stable layers of soil or rock. 

Drilled shafts are often used when dealing with challenging soil conditions, such as soft or loose soils, as well as in projects requiring high load-bearing capacities or deep foundations

Their versatility allows for various shaft diameters and depths, making them suitable for a wide range of applications, including bridges, high-rise buildings, and transportation infrastructure

Driven Piles: Strength and Versatility Above Ground

Driven Piles: Strength and Versatility Above Ground

Driven piles are robust foundation components hammered into the earth using equipment like pile drivers or hydraulic hammers, reaching stable soil or bedrock for optimal load-bearing capacity

Made from diverse materials such as steel, concrete, or timber, each type offers specific advantages

Steel provides strength and bend-resistance, concrete ensures durability in challenging soil conditions, and timber, being eco-friendly, is ideal for moderate loads and aquatic settings. 

The driving process for these piles is efficient, with real-time feedback via resistance monitoring, and the ability to compact surrounding soil for enhanced stability

Driven Piles vs. Drilled Shafts: Key Differences

While both driven piles and drilled shafts serve as essential deep foundation systems, their distinctions primarily revolve around installation techniques and optimal use scenarios

Driven piles are prefabricated and are directly hammered into the ground using specialized equipment. 

Their efficiency can be gauged by monitoring the resistance during the driving process. 

In contrast, drilled shafts are created on-site, starting with a drilled hole that's subsequently filled with reinforced concrete. 

This method offers adaptability, especially in areas with underground obstructions or when higher load capacities are mandated. 

Understanding these differences can guide engineers and builders in selecting the most suitable foundation method for their project.

Comparing Drilled Shafts, Drilled Piles, and the Advancements of Helical Piles

Drilled shafts, drilled piles, and helical piles all represent pivotal deep foundation techniques, each with its unique installation and performance attributes.

As mentioned above, drilled shafts involve creating large diameter holes filled with reinforced concrete, while drilled piles typically refer to smaller diameter bored piles filled similarly.

Helical piles, on the other hand, are steel shafts equipped with helical blades or plates. These piles are screwed into the ground, making installation quick, vibration-free, and less noisy

Unlike the former methods which often require extensive excavation and can be disrupted by groundwater or obstructions, helical piles are more adaptable, leading to minimized site disruption

The helical design ensures immediate load transfer, eliminating the need for concrete curing time. 

This revolutionary technology not only offers faster, cleaner, and more efficient installation but also provides superior performance in challenging soil conditions, truly marking a transformative shift in foundational engineering.

Helical Piers (Piles): A Revolutionary Foundation Support

More About Helical Piers (Piles): A Revolutionary Foundation Support

Helical piers, also known as helical piles or screw piles, are innovative foundation solutions that have gained significant popularity in recent years

Let's explore why helical piers/piles are a great solution for foundation support:


  • Rapid installation: Screw piles can be quickly and efficiently installed, significantly reducing construction time and costs.
  • Minimal impact to the landscape: The installation process of helical piers requires no excavation, preserving the natural aesthetics and integrity of the site.
  • Versatility in soil conditions: Helical piles perform exceptionally well in a wide range of soil conditions, including expansive soils, soft soils, and areas with high water tables.
  • Immediate load transfer: Screw piles provide immediate load-bearing capacity, allowing construction to commence immediately after installation without waiting for concrete curing.
  • Perfectly level structure: The precise installation process of helical piers ensures a level foundation, contributing to the overall stability and structural integrity of the building.
  • Versatility: Helical piles are very versatile. They can be used for residential to large commercial projects.
  • Year-round installation: Helical piles or screw piles can be installed throughout the year, irrespective of weather conditions, eliminating seasonal limitations.
  • Removable and reusable: Helical piers (piles) offer the advantage of being removable and reusable, providing flexibility for future modifications or relocations.
  • Low environmental footprint: With minimal disturbance, low noise and vibration, and no requirement for concrete, helical piers have a low environmental impact.
  • Suitable in all soil conditions: Helical piles or screw piles excel in various soil types, providing stability and load-bearing capacity regardless of the soil condition.
  • No concrete required: Helical piles eliminate the need for concrete, simplifying the construction process and reducing associated costs.
  • Product warranty: Helical piles from GoliathTech come with a product warranty, assuring their long-term performance and durability.


In the realm of foundation support, each solution—drilled shafts, driven piles, and helical piersoffers unique advantages and considerations

While drilled shafts and driven piles have their merits, helical piers emerge as a revolutionary foundation support system

Helical piers (piles) deliver unparalleled benefits. When it comes to choosing a reliable and efficient foundation, screw piles (helical piers) stand out as the superior choice, ensuring stability, cost-effectiveness, and long-lasting structural support for diverse construction projects.

About GoliathTech

Since 2004, GoliathTech has been the most important manufacturer and installer in the helical (screw) pile industry worldwide. Our patented helical pile foundation system surpasses industry standards and has earned us multiple awards and prizes.

Carried out by certified installers, our quick installation process avoids excavation, which protects your landscape and allows you to begin building as soon as the piles are in the ground. Moreover, you can anchor GoliathTech’s helical pile foundations into any soil or space year-round. Installed deep into the ground, beneath the frost line, they solidly support the structure in even the most extreme conditions. Our technology guarantees that a helical (screw) pile foundation won't move or crack over time.

Integrating both strength and know-how, GoliathTech offers the best anchoring solution to support your residential, industrial, commercial, and municipal projects. Trust the experience and expertise of GoliathTech for your foundation projects. Find a certified GoliathTech installer in your region or become a franchisee.