Sheet piles are construction materials that give construction projects some degree of sturdiness and strength. Today, we see many sophisticated and eye-catching projects constructed in areas where construction should be near impossible. Some projects like bridges, dams, floodwalls, and more are being constructed with ease because the builders incorporate sheet piles.

However, it is best to note that sheet piles have different types and designs. The variation is because of the different materials of sheet piles. Each sheet pile design is used while considering the properties of the material it is made from. The two most in-use types of sheet piles are the steel sheet piles and vinyl/PVC sheet piles. This article highlights the difference and similarities between these two sheet piles, including how and where they are used.

Similarities Between Steel and Vinyl Sheet Piles

The similarity is both can be installed in a “U” or Zigzag manner:  When we look at the design of all sheet piles, they are designed to be installed and attached through jointing. The jointing type depends on the structure being constructed or the structure’s design. Hence, steel and vinyl sheet piles can be installed and jointed in any shape for construction. In general, they offer a flexible installation design.

Difference Between Steel and Vinyl Sheet Piles

There are many differences between steel and vinyl sheet piles, and these differences are:

  1. The material used in making them. Steel sheet piles are made from hard steel, while vinyl sheet piles are made from a unique plastic-type comprising chlorine from common salt and ethylene from crude oil.
  2. Steel sheet piles offer more resistance than vinyl sheet piles. Since they are made from hard steel, they have high tensile strength and retaining power that permits them to be used in hard soils and load-bearing structures. Their tensile strength makes installation easy with no concern for their design as it remains intact. In contrast, vinyl sheet piles do not have the same tensile strength and retaining power as steel sheet piles; thus, You should not use them in hard soils or for load-bearing construction. They are best suited for loose soils.
  3. Vinyl Sheet piles are easier to install than steel sheet piles. When we discussed the similarities between both above, we said they offer flexible installation because they can be jointed to take any shape. For their difference, vinyl is made from a flexible material; thus, when installed, it can be bent into any shape without affecting its productivity. In contrast, steel sheets cannot.
  4. Vinyl sheet piles are lighter and easier to transport than steel sheet piles. Steel sheet piles are heavy compared to vinyl sheet piles.
  5. Vinyl sheet piles are more durable. This is because they are hardly affected by any natural factor, making them more suitable for constructing marine structures. Steel sheet piles corrode; thus, they need to be coated to prevent corrosion.

Tips for Choosing A Sheet Pile Type

These are specific tips to help your choice of sheet piles:

  1. Consider the structure being constructed.
  2. Consider the soil’s structure.
  3. Consider the load to be exerted on the sheet piles.


The details outlined above best explain the difference between steel and vinyl sheet piles and provide some tips to guide your choice of sheet piles. If your business requires the services of a sheet piling services provider, contact The PSA Group.