Difference Between Caisson and Pile

The caissons are structural elements of great length. The caissons have great similarity with the piles since both are structural elements of foundations that fulfill the same functions.

The big difference is that the caissons are of greater diameters (80 cm) compared to the piles and they are almost always built in the same place of the work. They are widely used in residential buildings and can also be found in the abutments of bridges.

These elements are built when they are going to support a lot of weight or when the land where they are going to be built has little bearing capacity. It can be said that with the construction of the caissons the structural conditions of the soil to be used are improved.

They are classified into:

  • Structural: They are part of the foundation of a structure, transmitting loads to a resistant stratum.
  • Approach: They are those that are used to reach a work area.

Piles are slender structural elements (25-60 cm) than caissons, which can also reach great depths. They are built in different shapes, sizes, and materials (wood, concrete, and steel).

They are used in tall buildings exposed to strong winds or in constructions that require elements that work under traction, such as cable structures, or any structure anchored to the ground.

They are classified depending on their way of working:

  • The rigid foundation of the first order: The pile works at a point, nailed to a great depth. It is the best and safest support because the pile rests on highly resistant terrain.
  • Rigid second-order foundation: When the pile meets a resistant stratum, but of little thickness and other less firm lower ones. In this case, you must go deeper until you find thicker firm ground.
  • Floating foundation: In this case, the piles are submerged in a soft layer and do not rest on any layer of firm ground, so the load transmitted to the ground does so only due to the friction effect of the pile shaft.

The differences between caisson and pile are several, in this article, you will know what those differences are both in their shape and in the place that they should be used in this way, you will know when to use a pile and in which one you should use a Caisson.

What are the Caissons?

Caissons or also known as cajones are structural elements that are used in the foundations of very large works, these can be up to 25 meters deep, this depends on the need of the project. Caissons are used to support a considerable weight or when the land where the construction is to be carried out does not have a great bearing capacity; In other words, with the construction of the Caissons, the structural conditions of the soil where it is going to be built improve considerably.

In what situation is a Caisson used

Caissons are used when the soil where the project is to be carried out has low resistance or when the weight of the structure to be supported has a greater weight than the bearing capacity of the terrain, to compensate for these situations A foundation box is made to compensate for the weight of the structure, this means that a hole is made that is freed from the weight of the soil and air is added to it, the volume of earth that was removed can be introduced into the structure of the foundation box that is composed of the bottom slab, the sidewalls, the intermediate walls, and the slab top.

Size of Caissons

Caissons generally have diameters from 1m to 1.50m or in other situations they can also have diameters of 2m.

In which projects can you use a Caisson?

These are widely used when building both commercial and residential buildings or on other occasions for public use; They can also be used for the abutments of different bridges, fulfilling the task of cementing or receiving large pilasters. In general, this type of foundation is used for special underwater foundations, due to the difficulty of excavating in these situations.

These are the differences between a caisson and a pile

There are several differences between a caisson and a pile, even though both have a great similarity, this is because both are structural elements that are in charge of cementing, therefore, they fulfill the same function.

The difference that can be more easily noticed is that the caissons have larger diameters, generally 80 cm, compared to the piles and in the vast majority of situations, they are built on the same site where the project is to be carried out, something that on many occasions does not happen with the piles. These are classified in two ways that we will tell you about below.

Structural

They are part of the foundation of a structure and are responsible for transmitting loads of the structure to a stratum of the land of the work that has the necessary bearing capacity.

By approximation

These types are used to reach a work zone.

Piles

For their part, the piles are characterized by being more slender structural elements and are between 25 and 60 cm compared to the Caisson, which in many cases are also capable of reaching great depths. The piles are built of different sizes, shapes, and materials, among their most used materials, are steel, wood, and concrete.

The piles are generally used in buildings that have high heights and that are therefore exposed to strong winds or are also used in constructions that require elements that work by traction, such as, for example, cable structures, or any other type of structure that is anchored in the ground.

Classification according to your way of working

The piles are classified according to their way of working in three aspects that we will tell you about below.

The rigid foundation of the first order

In this case, the pile is characterized by working at the tip, this is because it is driven to a considerable depth. This is the best support and is characterized by being very safe, thanks to the fact that the pile is supported on a ground that has a great bearing capacity.

Rigid second-order foundation

This case is characterized by the fact that the pile is in a resistant stratum, but it lacks thickness and the other lower strata are less firm. When this case is evident, the ground must be drilled until a firmer and thicker layer is found.

Floating foundation

Here the piles are inserted in a soft layer of soil and are not supported by any stratum of the ground with bearing capacity, so the load of the structure that is transmitted to the ground is sustained only by the friction effect of the shaft of the pile.

These are the differences between a caisson and a pile so that you take them into account when starting your projects and use the one that suits you best according to the terrain you are going to handle or the type of foundation you need.