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Excavation Shoring Systems

What is an Excavation Shoring System?

Excavation shoring systems are typically required to provide lateral soil support when an excavation is constructed. Many different excavation shoring systems exist and the right solution depends on soil and site conditions as well as depth and other considerations.

This article presents the most commonly used excavation shoring systems.


Common Excavation Shoring Systems

Trench-box excavation shoring systems for sewer installation:

Usually for shallow narrow excavations where the excavation base is stable, and water is not present. These type of shoring systems are prefabricated and pushed into the ground. The trench walls are typically supported by connected braces. These systems should generally not be used when ground deformation control is important.


Soldier Pile & Lagging excavation shoring systems:

A pile is installed at regular intervals (5 to 8 ft, 1.5 to 2.4m) and timber or other lagging is installed as the excavation progresses. These can be cantilever excavation shoring systems or supported by ground anchors or internal bracing.

See the soldier pile section for


Sheet pile excavation shoring systems:

Steel or vinyl sheet piles are commonly installed when groundwater is an issue and where the ground allows installation of the sheet piles without causing damage on adjacent structures.

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Tangent pile excavation shoring systems:

Drilled piles with steel beams or steel reinforcement are installed in a way that each pile touches each other. These excavation shoring systems can be used when the ground has some minimal arching capabilities and there is no groundwater present above the excavation level.

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Secant pile excavation shoring systems:

Secant pile walls are formed by drilling intersected drilled piles at regular intervals. These systems provide greater stiffness when excavating adjacent to existing structures, but installation needs to be conducted with care to avoid installation induced settlements. Usually for heavier construction and more serious projects where ground water control is important.

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Diaphragm wall excavation shoring systems:

Formed by constructing a continuous wall from adjacent concreted panels. The panels are excavated under slurry so that they don’t collapse. They can form the permanent basement wall and can provide a relatively watertight wall when the details are properly taken care off. These walls can be used as the permanent basement wall if aesthetics are not important and sensitive items to moisture are not stored in the basement. They are usually the most expensive option.

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Other Excavation Shoring Systems:

Other excavation shoring systems also exist. The bracing system that holds the walls in place plays an important role in the overall project cost. Creating an open excavation with ground anchors is always preferred vs. having internal bracing with struts or top/down slabs. In many cases though, ground anchors will not be possible. An item that is often overlooked is having a proper geotechnical investigation for excavation shoring design. Too often designs have to be carried out with limited information.

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