Although caisson drilling is often associated with projects like bridge construction, it is beneficial for all types of large structures.

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A strong foundation is the basis of any construction project, whether you’re building a single-family home, an apartment structure, or an office high rise.  Foundations either sit on top of soil or they are embedded in the soil (sometimes both).

For small structures like primary residences, foundation pads placed on top of the soil are generally adequate.  Although the soil may settle somewhat over time, causing the foundation to settle, as well, this occurrence does not pose the same risks for small structures as it does for, say, a precarious high rise.

For larger buildings, however, more fortified foundations are in order.  Although caisson drilling is often associated with projects like bridge construction, this method of building foundations is also is also beneficial for all types of large structures.

What is Caisson Drilling?

Caisson drilling is a specific style of creating structural foundations by which boreholes called caissons (sometimes called drilled piers because of their cylindrical shape) are drilled into the ground and then filled with concrete and reinforcing materials.  The main goal of this method is to reduce the potential for vertical movement caused by soil settling in order to avoid the structural damage that could otherwise result.

Traditionally, flat, horizontal, floating foundations have been used to evenly distribute the weight of the building above.  However, uneven settling could lead to all kinds of problems including leaning, cracked foundation and structural elements, and even eventual collapse.

With caisson drilling, weight-bearing concrete columns (perhaps supplemented by steel cages or other reinforcements) can reach all the way down to the bedrock, providing for a much more stable base for large structures.

This method of building foundations is not necessary for every structure – the average home is unlikely to use caissons.  However, this style of creating structural foundations is preferable for larger, taller buildings, and especially high rises, for the purposes of safety, longevity, and structural integrity.

What are the Benefits of Caisson Drilling?

1. Flexibility

No, we’re not talking about how the concrete pillars that are the end result of caisson drilling are physically flexible – you obviously want your foundations to be solid.  Flexibility refers to the many situations and locations in which caisson drilling can be used.

This construction method can be adapted to nearly any worksite.  No matter where you plan to build your high rise or other large structure, you should have no trouble placing caissons.

2. High Load Capacity

A traditional foundation pad may seem sturdier than caissons, but just the opposite is true.  When weight is properly distributed across a grid of caisson pillars, the structural foundations end up being stronger in terms of both axial and lateral loads.

3. Cost Effective

Believe it or not, installing caissons tends to be more affordable than laying down an enormous concrete pad foundation.  In addition, you may be able to forego pile caps because the caissons are already filled with concrete.  It’s an economical option that can definitely add up to major savings on massive construction projects.

The only real drawback of selecting this type of foundation is that you must find a construction company that is familiar with the method.  Few construction vendors have the expertise and experience to undertake caisson drilling, which means it’s in your best interest to seek out reputable professionals with proper proficiency.  It is imperative that caissons are properly installed.

Which Construction Projects Should Use Caisson Drilling?

In reality, any construction project involving a large or tall structure should consider the potential benefits of choosing caisson drilling instead of a traditional foundation.  This process isn’t just for bridges and skyscrapers.

Before you assume this option isn’t suitable for you, it’s best to approach a company that has the knowledge, resources, and experience to offer caisson drilling in order to discuss foundation methods.  This way you can make an informed decision that’s right for your project.