Historically, timber has been a plentiful and remains an affordable alternative to concrete or steel piles. Timber piles may not be suitable for heavier loads.
A main consideration for using timber piles is that they should be protected from deterioration above groundwater level. Timber will last for a long time below the groundwater level. For timber to deteriorate, two elements are needed: water and oxygen. Below the groundwater level, oxygen is lacking even though there is ample water. Hence, timber tends to last for a long time below groundwater level Timber that is to be used above the water table can be protected from decay and insects by numerous forms of preservative treatment.