Design of Sheet Pile Walls

Sheet Pile Design by Pile Buck

Harry A. Lindahl and Don C. Warrington
Pile Buck International

The successor to the classic Pile Buck Sheet Piling Design Manual, this Pile Buck exclusive is the definitive reference for the design of sheet pile walls. It covers every aspect of sheet pile design including the soil mechanics and earth pressure theory involved in sheet pile design, structural considerations, design of both cantilever and anchored walls, earthquake design for sheet pile walls, seepage and hydrostatic loads, anchor systems and tiebacks, cofferdams, corrosion and more. Text includes numerous worked examples and step-by-step solutions featuring various methods of design. Examples include use of Pile Buck’s software program SPW911, along with “hand” solutions.

Anchored Sheet Pile Wall Analysis Using Fixed End Method Without Estimation of Point of Contraflexure

Don C. Warrington
October 2007

The fixed end method used for the design of anchored sheet pile walls has been used with success since before World War II; however, computational limitations have forced designers to use simplifications such Hermann Blum developed. The original method called for the use of an “elastic line” solution, where the penetration of the sheet piling below the excavation line was estimated using statically indeterminate beam theory. This paper develops the governing equations for the “elastic line” method for a simple case and presents the solution in two ways: para-metrically using charts, and for specific cases using an online computer algorithm. Comparison with other solution techniques is presented, and suggestions for broader applications are made. The adjustment of the penetration for the residual toe load is also discussed, and the limitations of current practice in this adjustment are detailed.

Comparative Analyses of Quay Wall Case Study Using Plaxis 3D

M. Ahmed Kamal, E. Tolba, S. Ellah, E. M. Galal and E. Sallam

This paper presents the displacement behavior of quay wall system, using Plaxis 3D version 2013. The horizontal displacement calculated by Plaxis 3D for existing quay walls case study located in Rotterdam Port in South Holland is evaluated by the field measurements. At first, the three-dimensional numerical performance of Rotterdam existing quay wall is compared with the site horizontal displacement measurements over five (5) years which provide an interpretation of the increment causes of the measured horizontal displacement on top of the quay wall. Extensive comparisons are made to include the interaction between the soil and existing quay wall. Both Hardening Soil Model (HSM) and the Mohr-Coulomb Model (MCM) are utilized. The results highlighted the paramount importance of considering the time-dependent effects on the deformation behavior of the quay wall in addition to the undrained and drained soil properties. The long-term horizontal quay wall movement increments due to consolidation plays an essential role in most quay wall deformation problems. Finally, a comparative study is performed between displacement results obtained from Plaxis 3D and 2D to validate the behavior of the quay wall case study model. This result proves that Plaxis 3D 2013 prediction is satisfactory for reaching reliable displacement values when compared to the field measured and is a powerful tool for simulating and performing such quay wall analysis if compared to Plaxis 2D results.

A Comparison between Circular Cell Cofferdams and Double Wall Cofferdams and different Loads by Means of a Simple Calculation Scheme

Dr.-Ing.Hans-Dieter Clasmeier
Niedersächsisches Hafenamt Wilhelmshaven
11th International Harbour Congress, Antwerp 1996

Today cofferdams with a total height up to 25 m and a width up to 30 m and more are to be built as a part of quay-walls in modern marine terminals. In Germany most used is the double-wall-cofferdam-type (DWC), but in other parts of the world very often is used the circular-cell-cofferdam-type (CCC). The advantage of the CCC is a very small penetration depth under the future sea or harbour bottom. The DWC most is used in cases, when only a short length of a quay-wall or a building-pit side is to be built.

Design and Use of Sheet Pile Walls in Stream Restoration and Stabilisation Projects

NRCS Stream Restoration Handbook, Technical Supplement 14R
August 2007

This technical supplement provides an introduction to the use of sheet pile, types of walls, sheet pile materials, classical method of design for wall stability, structural design, specification, and installation of sheet pile for stream restoration and stabilization projects. It describes typical applications for cantilever sheet pile wall in stream restoration and stabilization projects, types of sheet pile material, loads applied to the sheet pile, failure modes, design for cantilever wall stability, structural design of the piles, and some construction considerations. It does not address stream stability; hydraulic analyses of the streamflow; geotechnical analyses and slope stability of the stream slopes; or the ecological, aesthetic, or geomorphic consequences of the use of sheet pile.

Design of Sheet Pile Cellular Structures, Cofferdams and Retaining Structures

U.S. Army EM 1110-2-2503

A comprehensive treatment of a specialised subject. Cellular cofferdams are an important type of retaining wall that require a design approach like no other lateral earth retaining structure.

Design of Sheet Pile Walls

U.S. Army EM 1110-2-2504

A guide to the design of sheet pile walls, primarily using the soil-structure interactive method. It does not give a detailed description of classical methods, but has much useful information.

Investigation of Wall Friction, Surcharge Loads, and Moment Reduction Curves for Anchored Sheet-Pile Walls

William P. Dawkins
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Information Technology Laboratory ERDC/ITL TR-01-4
September 2001

This report contains discussions and results of three separate studies of topics associated with sheet-pile wall design.

  • Chapter 1 presents an investigation of the effect of the angle of wall/soil friction on bending moments and compares the results of design and/or analysis using classical design procedures or one-dimensional (1-D) soil-structure interaction (SSI).
  • Chapter 2 discusses the procedures for incorporating the influence of surcharge loads on soil pressures obtained from different pressure calculation methods.
  • Chapter 3 compares moment reduction curves from several different sources.

NASSPA Guidance on Corrosion


The successful performance of hot-rolled steel sheet piling is well documented in many and varied environments. Regardless of the structure’s exposure and service life, a steel sheet piling system can be designed to provide a solution. For some projects, the best system for the job includes some supplemental corrosion protection. In many applications, however, steel sheet piling does not require any additional protection. These projects typically include temporary structures, structures in most atmospheric exposures, structures driven into undisturbed soils, and structures which are continually submerged in either fresh or salt water. On the other end of the corrosion spectrum is the splash zone of steel sheet piling structures in marine environments, where wave and wind action remove the protective rust coating resulting in the highest corrosion rates. Between these two extremes are a wide variety of conditions, with a corresponding wide variety of protection alternatives to ensure the steel sheet piling meets the project requirements.

Although every structure has its own unique set of exposure conditions, design requirements, service life, aesthetic goals and economic requirements, this report provides general information on steel sheet piling corrosion and basic guidelines for evaluating the need for supplemental corrosion protection for new steel sheet piling structures. These general guidelines should be applied with care, taking into account local environmental conditions and exposures. Local experience with corrosion in similar structures is perhaps the most valuable guide in decision-making.

Numerical analysis of cantilever and anchored sheet pile walls at failure and comparison with classical methods

Alejo Gonzalez Torrabadella
Escola de Caminas, UPC Barcelonatech
January 2013

Concrete sheet pile walls were seldom designed before de beginning of the 20th Century, dating the first design methods from the early 1900’s. It was in the 1950’s, when sheet pile walls were broadly established as a solution to solve problems associated with deep excavations near buildings, subterranean structures or below the water table. Since then, the growing need to use scarce land efficiently, along with the improvement and development of specialized machinery with a greater efficiency, have led to an increase in the use of sheet pile walls. Although design methods have been constantly reviewed and improved, these have not changed much in the last 50 years. Its usage is fully extended due to its simplicity and reliability. Despite the development of numerical methods in the last decades applied to geotechnical engineering the “classical” analytical methods are still broadly used.

This Master Thesis is framed into a wider study of the behaviour of sheet pile walls at failure. In particular, it is the continuation of a previous work by Cuadrado (2010) [Stress-strain analysis at failure and safety conditions in cantilever and anchored sheet pile walls. Comparison with classical methods]. In this study the author developed a detailed assessment of the classical methods for cantilever and single-anchored sheet pile walls and compared them with the Finite Element method. Additionally, that work included a contribution on safety practices, consisting of increasing the embedment depth by 20% and reducing the passive resistance.

Planning and Design of Temporary Cofferdams and Braced Excavations

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
ER 1110-2-8152
31 August 1994

This regulation provides directives for procedures to be followed while planning and designing temporary construction for cofferdams and unwatered excavations on major civil works projects. The objective is to provide criteria and guidance for providing safe working conditions and life protection, optimizing cost versus risk of damage, maintaining navigation, and securing the integrity of permanent structures during the use of temporary unwatered cofferdams and excavations on major civil works projects.

Construction cofferdams used in this context are temporary structures, in which collapse or inundation can result in a potential risk to life or that exceed 10 percent of the project cost for the permanent structures, used to facilitate construction of major civil works projects. Temporary construction cofferdams include sheet pile structures, cellular cofferdams, movable cofferdams, slurry walls, braced and unbraced excavations, tie-back walls, and embankments that can be unwatered for construction of permanent hydraulic structures inside the cofferdam area. Major civil works projects are those that involve construction of, or alterations to, navigation, hydropower, or multipurpose dam projects or other similar hydraulic structures.

Practical Design of Sheet Pile Bulkheads

ARBED, 1991

To deal with a bulkhead problem, it is therefore necessary to have straightforward methods of design that are rapid and accurate enough to reveal the possible solutions of the problem in view in a relatively short period of time. This handbook endeavours to summarise some of the rational graphical methods generally accepted. It is addressed primarily to those who require an introduction to the design of sheet pile bulkheads.

Some aspects on sheet pile wall analysis, soil structure interaction

Professor Lars Grande, Department of Geotechnical Engineering, NTNU, Norway
October 1998

This paper raises some questions on how to perform sheet pile wall analysis with focus on the soil structure interaction in urban areas. The main challenge during the physical excavation works is to limit the deformations involved in order to minimise damage on adjacent structures. The deformations depend largely on the excavation and strutting procedures, but also on the properties of the structural elements like the soil, the sheet pile and strutting members. The detailed design procedure involves numerical analyses, national regulations and common practice considerations.

A Study of the Long-Term Applications of Vinyl Sheet Piles

August 2003

This report, written for the Corps of Engineers, summarizes the results of a brief investigation of the long-term application of vinyl sheet piles to address some of the concerns raised in a recent Engineering and Construction Bulletin about the integrity, durability, impact damage, construction standards, and allowable design of commercially available PVC sheet piles. The data used in this investigation were available from existing literature, technical organizational databases, (e.g. the Vinyl Institute), manufacturers’ input, input from the technical experts on vinyl, and a few limited laboratory tests. The comments apply primarily to generic PVC and not to the specific PVC material of any manufacturer. The performance of an individual manufacturer’s PVC sheet pile may vary from what has been generally reported here.

Sheet Pile Design and Performance in Peat

Samuel G. Paikowsky and Yong Tan
University of Massachusetts at Lowell
July 2005

As part of a highway relocation project (RT44) in Carver Massachusetts, long sheet pile walls were installed in Cranbury bogs and ponds in order to mitigate environmental concerns. The subsurface consisting of deep peat deposits challenges the current understanding of the pressures developing on sheet piles and the parameters used for its design. A large instrumentation program has been conducted over a period of 2.5 years, measuring the peat pressure developing along the sheet pile walls during construction and service. This project includes (i) original wall design and associated assumptions, (ii) a detailed field and laboratory study investigating the vertical and lateral properties of the peat, (iii) the instrumentation of the walls using inclinometers and vibrating wire total pressure cells along with a new thin film tactile pressure sensors, (iv) the measurements of the pressures and deflections developing along the wall and independent surveying over various stages of construction including excavation, fill, deep dynamic compaction (DDC) and MSE wall construction, (v) the modelling of the wall-soil interaction during the aforementioned stages using the FEM code PLAXIS, (vi) comparisons between the modelling results and measured values at the different stages, and (vii) the development of recommended parameters for future design of walls in peat.

Theoretical Manual for Design of Cellular Sheet Pile Structures (Cofferdams and Retaining Structures)

Mark Rossow, Edward Demsky and Reed Mosher
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Waterways Experiment Station
Technical Report ITL-87-5
May 1987

This theoretical manual contains derivations and discussions of procedures for cellular sheet pile cofferdam design. As a companion volume to the planned Engineer Manual, “Design of Cellular Sheet Pile Structures,” it is intended to provide theoretical background for that EM as well as to the user of the computer program for cellular cofferdam design, CCELL. Numerical examples illustrating the design methods’ use, along with a broad list of references, are included. Failure modes involving soil-structure interactions are the primary consideration. The approach herein is intended to provide the reader with the basic analysis procedure to be used for a particular failure mode.

Three-Dimensional Finite Element Analysis of Sheet-Pile Cellular Cofferdams

Reed L. Mosher
US Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station
Technical Report ITL-92-1
April 1992

The conventional design methods for sheet-pile cellular cofferdams were developed in the 1940’s and 1950’s based on field and limited experimental observations. The analytical techniques of the day were unable to account for the complexities involved. The procedures used only rudimentary concepts of soil-structure interaction which do not exhibit the true response of the cofferdam for most circumstances. During the past decade it has been demonstrated that with proper consideration of the soil-structure interaction effects, the two-dimensional finite element models can be powerful tools in the investigation of cellular cofferdam behavior. However, universal implementation of the findings of these analyses was difficult to justify, since uncertainties remain about the assumptions made in arriving at the two-dimensional models. The only way to address these uncertainties was to perform a three-dimensional analysis.

This investigation has focused on the study of the three-dimensional behavior of Lock and Dam No. 26 (R) sheet-pile cellular cofferdam. The work involved the development of a new three-dimensional soil-structure interaction finite element code for cellular cofferdam modeling, and the application of the new code to the study of the behavior of the first- and second-stage cofferdam at Lock and Dam No. 26 (R).

The Use of A-690 Mariner Steel Sheet Pilings

REMR Technical Note EM-CR-1.6

The purpose of this technical note is to clarify when A690 mariner steel sheet pilings should be specified in Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works projects.

User’s Guide: Computer Program for Design and Analysis of Sheet-Pile Walls by Classical Methods (CWALSHT) Including Rowe’s Moment Reduction

William P. Dawkins
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Instruction Report ITL-91-1
October 1991

The computer program CWALSHT was developed from specifications provided by the Computer-Aided Structural Engineering (CASE) Task Group on Sheet Pile Structures and is described in this report. The program uses classical soil mechanics procedures for determining the required depth of penetration of a new wall or assesses the factors of safety for an existing wall.


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