Soldier piles, also known as king piles or Berlin walls, are constructed of wide flange steel H sections spaced about 2 to 3 m apart and are driven prior to excavation. As the excavation proceeds, horizontal timber sheeting (lagging) is inserted behind the H pile flanges. The horizontal earth pressures are concentrated on the soldier piles because of their relative rigidity compared to the lagging. Soil movement and subsidence is minimized by maintaining the lagging in firm contact with the soil.
Soldier piles are most suitable in conditions where well constructed walls will not result in subsidence such as over-consolidated clays, soils above the water table if they have some cohesion, and free draining soils which can be effectively dewatered, like sands.