Helical Piers vs. Micropiles: Which Is Right for You?

Foundation underpinning

If you are looking for a foundation solution for your construction project, you might have come across the terms ‘helical piers’ and ‘micropiles.’ Both of these can be used for a variety of applications, including earth retention, slope stabilization, and structural support. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the differences between helical piles and micropiles, and which one might be the best choice for your particular project.


Helical Piers

Helical piers, also known as helical piles, screw piles, or anchors, are steel shafts that have helical plates attached to them. The helical plates rotate into the ground, creating an anchor that supports the load of the structure. They can only be used in certain soil conditions, including soft soil, loose sand, and lean clay. The tradeoff is that they are easy to install, as they don’t require any excavation or curing time. They can also be removed if necessary, making them a versatile option for temporary structures.



Micropiles are small-diameter piles (<12”) that are made of high-strength steel and concrete. They are inserted into the soil using a drilling process, and steel/grout is then poured into the drill hole to provide additional support. Micropiles are often used in congested areas, where access is limited, or where there are weight restrictions. They can also be used in virtually any soil condition. Micropiles offer higher load-bearing capacity and are suitable for a range of structures, including bridges, highways, and high-rise buildings.


Comparing Helical Piers and Micropiles

The choice between helical piers and micropiles depends on a multitude of factors, such as the soil condition, the depth of the bedrock, the load capacity required, the type of structure being built, and the budget. Helical piers can be installed quickly, which helps to reduce construction time and costs. Micropiles, on the other hand, are more suitable for projects with rocky ground conditions or with higher load requirements, making them ideal for permanent structures.


In conclusion, both helical piles and micropiles are excellent foundation solutions that offer a range of benefits. When choosing between helical piles and micropiles, it’s essential to consider the specific requirements of your project, such as the soil condition, access, installation time, and load capacity. Consulting with a qualified foundation contractor can help you make an informed decision and ensure that you choose the right foundation solution for your project.