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  • Writer's pictureCharlotte

A Quick Guide to Canal and Marine Piling

Our previous blogs have outlined a number of different forms of marine construction, including dredging, weed control, and piling. This blog will take a closer look at marine piling, and how the processes change when driving piles in water.

We’ll cover what marine piling is, and how it differs from the type of piling we’ve covered in the past. The blog will also touch on how water affects the materials involved in piling, and who to contact if your project requires piling works.

What is marine piling?

As the name suggests, this relates to piling works in a water environment. It can be called many different things depending on the location, and may occasionally be referred to as aqua piling. Going back to basics, a pile is a post-like object that is driven into the ground to support building works. In the context of waterways, it is commonly used to provide a retaining wall between the bank and the water. It can also be used to provide support to marine structures, as is the case with wharf piles.

Marine sheet piling

A phrase that you will hear a lot of in this type of work is sheet piling. This refers to a wall of interlocking steel sheets that prevent river and canal banks from collapsing into the water. Sheet piling in water helps to secure the integrity of the banks, and can be a long-term solution that lasts for upwards of 20 years.

Steel sheet piles are often seen along the edges of towpaths, or to create a structurally sound waterside feature. Given the importance of bank stabilisation in flood prevention and keeping our waterways clear and navigable, marine sheet piling plays an integral role in the maintenance of UK waterways.

Piling materials

As they are often submerged in water, piles are exposed to a number of different substances and chemicals which can cause long-term damage. It is important, therefore, to get the right material to ensure longevity of any piling project.

Steel offers fantastic load capacity, as well as durable corrosion resistance. It is important to ensure that you only use marine grade pilings, which is achieved through galvanising the steel to make it more resistant to corrosion and prevent it from breaking down and degrading in the water.

A concrete pile system is extremely strong, and wood piles offer a visually attractive option, with the low oxygen levels in water meaning they can last a fairly long time.

Assessing the location and nature of the water into which the piles will be submerged will inform the type of material used, with canal piling requiring a different approach to river piling. From steel to wood, composite marine pilings to concrete, the key is to engage with marine civil engineering specialists in order to find the right material for your project.

How can The Rothen Group help?

If a construction project requires marine piling, the first port of call should be to contact The Rothen Group so that we can undertake a site visit. This will help us to assess the location, water depth, type of ground conditions, and many more factors, before providing a bespoke quote. It is impossible to say how much mooring pilings cost, for example, before completing a thorough assessment of the project’s unique circumstances.

Following this site visit, we can then mobilise the kit – which is generally a floating crane barge or digger boat. An experienced team is required to effectively drive piles into water, and we can provide operators for these tasks. The turnaround time varies depending on the project, but our team can usually mobilise within a few days to a week.

As outlined in this blog, the equipment used for aqua piling is very specialist, and in the wrong hands could cause issues further down the line, ultimately costing more in the long run to replace.

If you have any further questions about piling, or would like to know more about the services The Rothen Group can offer, please contact us today on 01827 215715, or email

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