What material is best for your seawall ?
Consultation is Important
- Location & Accessibility
- Size of the Seawall
- Weather Concerns
- Marine Conditions
Although it is the oldest material used for this type of construction, wood is not good for seawall construction, but has many applications in retaining walls and marine barriers. In freshwater retaining walls, or walls that are built above the water line, wood is an affordable and popular option. Another factor to keep in mind is the strength of the wall being built and conditions it will be exposed to. Wood tends to warp and decay sooner than other materials in salt water.
Steel and Aluminum Seawalls are an economical way to build a seawall. Metal tends to stand up well to weather extremes, but will corrode over time. It is not unusual for metal and concrete to be used together, creating a stronger, longer lasting seawall. The downside of a metal seawall is that it usually requires heavy equipment that may be difficult to get into small or ecologically sensitive areas.
Concrete is extremely durable and does pass the time test better than most. A concrete seawall will last for decades and require little or no maintenance. Concrete panels are preferable in large seawalls, since reinforced concrete is stronger than most other materials and can be custom designed for aesthetically appealing results.
Vinyl and Composites
For small seawalls, or places that are difficult to get into, Composite or Vinyl works well. Pre-formed panels can be quickly and efficiently installed with minimum heavy equipment, which makes vinyl appealing in environmentally sensitive locations. Since vinyl and composite materials are available in a wide range of colors, the seawall does not have to be painted to maintain coloration, and is resistant to fading and staining. The downside of vinyl and composite materials is that they do not have the tensile strength of metal or concrete. For this reason, these materials are best used in small seawalls or situations where impact from storms and tides are minimal.
Repairs and Reinforcements
When your existing seawall needs to be repaired, raised, or reinforced, vinyl is often the material of choice. It is easier to get into the job site, which reduces traffic and access considerations. Additionally, vinyl or composite materials can be installed without removing the existing seawall, providing reinforcement and aesthetic appeal at a reduced cost. Interlocking panels will reduce the potential for erosion, and that translates into a longer lasting seawall with less maintenance and repair over time.
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