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Five Common Materials Used for Building Seawalls

Beachside houses are major property investments. But, these homes are at risk of storm surge damage. In order to protect beach houses and the landscape around them, seawall structures are built in shorelines. Seawall construction makes use of certain materials that all come with both pros and cons. These materials include the following.


Steel is a common material of choice in terms of seawall construction; however, installing it can be costly. In terms of easiness of installation and durability though, steel tends to stand out. In fact, it doesn’t have height limitations for any seawall design. But, it requires the application of a protective coating.


Wood or timber provides a low-cost installation cost. Seawalls made from timber are composed of several log piles placed vertically as well as covered with wood planks and sheets. But, timber has limitations in terms of height for high-surf applications. Generally, this kind of seawall benefits waterways that extend into the land from the ocean. This is meant to avoid the strongest wave action of the ocean. Seawalls made from timber may also rot over time unless treated with preservatives. Also, installing timber can be difficult in very hard grounds. Timber is easily obtainable from suppliers of treated pilings and other construction materials.


Seawalls made of concrete are quite strong and last over thirty years. But, the structure should be designed for a concrete installation, considers wall angles and take curing times. Before pouring the concrete, the correct aggregate mixture must be considered for exposure to marine elements.

Plastic or Vinyl

Vinyl seawalls are quite new. But plastics or vinyl tends to have a longer lifespan than steel. Unlike other materials used for building seawalls, colors for vinyl can be picked for a pleasing look. However, vinyl bulkhead material also has height limitations and can’t be installed into very hard surfaces.


Seawalls made from aluminum have resistance to corrosion. But, waters that have very low acidity or pH are likely to contribute to the corrosion process. Aluminum is famous for its lightweight quality which makes it not sturdy enough to be used for a tall wall design.

Choosing the right materials to build seawalls depends on a lot of factors including proximity to water and average ocean wave height. Every contractor specializing in beachside development must observe and document a certain region’s needs before making a decision on the design and material to be used for building a seawall.

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