Do I Need A Plate Bearing Test?

by | Mar 8, 2022

If you’ve found yourself on this blog, we’re sure you’re aware of a plate bearing test. But, did you know they’re one of the most common geotechnical techniques used today?  

For projects in which temporary structures, such as scaffolding, are required, ground conditions near the surface must offer structural stability. Amongst the range of geotechnical services the Borehole Solutions team offer, you will find plate bearing tests. Below we have explained them in a little more detail. 

What Does A Plate Bearing Test Involve? 

A steel plate is loaded with weight, after being placed on or within the ground, typically at foundation level. The weight, referred to as the ‘load’, is applied incrementally and the plate’s movements recorded consistently. Movements are typically recorded on the minute, every minute, until no more movement can be identified. 

A counter-ballast is often required, due to the size of the plate. This is usually in the form of an excavator or digger. This test is undertaken as per the requirements of British Standard (BS) 1377 Part 9: 1990. 

What Does A Plate Bearing Test Show? 

The soil bearing capacity, as well as the modulus of sub-grade reaction can be calculated with a plate bearing test. Furthermore, the test can also indicate the likely settlement. Ultimately, as you will be aiming to identify whether the conditions are of sufficient strength to support temporary structures, this is what the investigation will be for.  

In the grand scheme of things, this may seem like a relatively unimportant test. If a structure is erected upon unsuitable ground, however, huge issues could arise. Aside from interruptions to the project at hand, the health and safety of the workers will be at great risk!  

What’s The Difference Between The CBR Test And The Plate Bearing Test? 

These investigative methods may share similarities, in that they’re used to assess surface bearing strengths, but they’re carried out quite differently. The plate bearing tests, as mentioned above, involves the application of pressure. The CBR (California Bearing Ratio) test, however, relies on the plunging, penetrative motion of a machine puncturing the ground. 

What Other Services Do Borehole Solutions Offer? 

Aside from the test covered in this blog, we offer many more geotechnical solutions! The following are just a few of the wide range of solutions we offer: 

  • Sonic Drilling 
  • Rotary Drilling 
  • Cable Percussion Drilling 
  • Restricted Access Drilling 
  • Window Sampling 
  • Sampling & Testing 
  • Casing & Rig Hire 

Contact Us

If you would like to find out more about our geotechnical services (plate bearing tests included!), please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can contact Borehole Solutions today on 01733 200 501 or by emailing us at