VersaPile Thermal Piles vs. Ground Anchors vs. Concrete

August 20, 2021

"So, what's the difference between your VersaPile Screw Piles, and a Groundhog anchor from Home Depot?"

That's a question I get all the time here in Winnipeg, and it's a good one! People want to know what the difference is between our VersaPile Screw Piles, and those ground screw anchors you can buy at most building supply stores.

My standard answer is, "VersaPile Screw Piles and ground screw anchors are the same idea, but in two completely different leagues." For instance, little league baseball and adult professional baseball are technically the same sport, but there is a significant performance difference between the two.

The Truth About Building-Center Ground Anchors

Ground screw anchors have been available in Winnipeg since the mid 1990's, and have brought recognition to the concept of screw piles in Winnipeg. Unfortunately, they have also instilled a very narrow idea of what helical screw piles can be effectively used for. Many people still think that screw piles are only good for small decks or patios, and never realize that screw piles can be installed under large structures like new homes, and even commercial projects like greenhouses.

A Typical Ground Screw Anchor That Can Be Found at Building Centers

Sadly, there were cases when installers of smaller ground anchors failed to install piles that can hold the required loads. Or, they installed piles that weren't long enough to anchor below the frost line. This led to decks, home additions, and sunrooms sinking and shifting on the "screw piles" systems that have existed until recently in Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba.

This has also led to confusion about which system - VersaPile Screw Piles, Ground Anchors, or Concrete Piles - is considered the "best".

What's The Best Foundation?

That's a trick question. Truth is, there is no one foundation that does it all. However, there are significant differences between VersaPile Screw Piles, ground anchors, and concrete piles. The easiest way to see these differences is to stack the foundations up against each other and see how they come out.

Screw Piles Were a Great Fit For This Porch, Due to The Difficult Install Location

We put together an easy-to-read chart that compares VersaPile Screw Piles, ground anchors, and concrete piles. Check it out:

VersaPile Screw Piles

Ground Anchors

Concrete Piles

Standard Length

10.5 feet total

10 feet measured from top of helical

8 feet total

5 foot 10 inches measured from top of helical

8 feet

Time to Installation

15 minutes

15 minutes (pros)

45 minutes (amateur)

1 hour

Requires Curing

No

No

24 hours minimum

Galvanized

Yes

No

N/A

Diameter of Shaft

2.38" to 8.25"

1.25" to 2"

8" to 24"

Shaft Design

Round shaft for increased lateral support

Square shaft usually requires additional lateral support

Round

Helical Size

8" to 24"

Multiple helical option

8" to 12"

N/A

Insulated

Yes

No

N/A

Guarantee

Yes, by VersaPile

Yes, usually by the installer

No

CMHC Approved

Yes

No

Yes

CCMC Report

Yes

No

Yes

BBB Accredited?

Yes, A+ Rating

No

Maybe

Capacities Achieved

Up to 50,000 lbs

Up to 5,000 lbs

5,000 lbs to 30,000 lbs

Adjustable

Yes, wide range of adapters for any project

Yes, one adapter only

No

Extendable

Yes, as deep as necessary

No

No

Torque monitored installation

Yes, capacities verified according to engineered torque charts

No

No

Disturbance to landscaping

Minimal

Minimal

Extensive

Tailings/mess

No

No

Yes

Heavy Equipment

No

No

Yes

Laser levelled above grade

Yes, included with installation

No

Yes, but usually additional charges

Can support cement grade beam or slab

Yes, cement head adapters

No

Yes, with rebar

Rocks

Use carbide bit or excavate using machine

Call an excavation service for big $

Call an excavation service for big $

Cost for deck pile

$375 for 10' galvanized Thermal Pile with 2.38" shaft and 12" helical (laser leveled and including pile marking)

$280+ for 8' painted Groundhog with 2" shaft and 12" helical (installed to grade)

$500 or more - may not include removal of tailings or repair of damaged landscaping

When the data is laid out like this, you can see that each piling system has it's merits - but no single foundation will be right choice 100% of the time.

However, there is very little a VersaPile Screw Pile can't do that the other alternatives can.

The advantages to a VersaPile Screw Pile are significantly greater weight capacities, anchoring below the frost line, and laser-leveled installs (to name a few). Our hot-dip galvanized piles also last more than 2.67 times longer than untreated, painted steel which means decades of firm support with no corrosion.

I'm not saying that you should always use VersaPile Screw Piles, full stop. Every situation is unique, and your requirements could be different.

The fastest way to see which foundation is right for you would be to ask our friendly foundation experts. We can help you figure out if a VersaPile Screw Pile foundation is a good choice for your project. If you want a free estimate, contact your VersaPile professional by clicking here.

 


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