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What is a Seawall and How Does it Work?

by Duncan Seawall

If you spend any time near the water, you're sure to see a few seawalls along the way. Seawalls are abundant near canals or bays, but what is a seawall, how does it work, and what does it do?


Related Blog: What are the Best Materials to Use When Building a Seawall?

What is a Seawall?

A seawall is a structure that provides a defense to the shoreline and surrounding property from erosion and flooding. There are two basic types of seawalls; riprap embankments and vertical walls. While each one serves the same purpose, the construction methods and aesthetics differ.

Types of Seawalls

Riprap Embankments

Riprap embankments are used along shorelines that are continuously exposed to the effects of rushing water. This type of seawall is inexpensive and best suited for low-impact areas. A riprap embankment is less effective against large waves but can help dissipate the energy of small waves.

A riprap embankment is basically a rubble mound. The side exposed to the sea is covered in rocks, sandbags, stones, or even concrete rubble leftover from paving or construction demolition.

Vertical Walls

As the name implies, vertical seawalls are sturdy, upright walls that act as a barrier between your property and the power of the sea. This type of seawall typically sticks straight up from the seabed, enabling you to fully use your property and protect it from erosion. In addition, vertical seawalls take the full force of a wave and are a time-tested method of blocking large, high-powered waves.


How Do Seawalls Work?

Seawalls are designed to minimize the eroding impact of heavy waves. They accomplish this by reducing the wave's force before it reaches land. Seawalls redirect the wave's energy back to the sea, reducing erosion while protecting land, structures, and inhabitants.

By deflecting incoming waves to reduce their power, seawalls effectively reduce or eliminate the force before it reaches land. By reducing the impact of heavy waves, seawalls can help to protect beaches, cliffs, harbors, property on canals, and more.

Should I Get a Seawall?

If left unchecked, crashing waves will eat away at the shoreline and may cause flooding. Over time, erosion can put waterside structures in danger of collapse or corrosion. In low-lying and flood-prone areas, these buildings, their residents, and belongings are at the most significant risk. In essence, seawalls protect structures and pedestrians from the damaging effects of waves. Seawalls can also minimize the force of heavy waves caused by storms, hurricanes, and tidal surges.

If you are wondering if you should get a seawall, a well built vertical seawall offers several benefits, including:

  1. Prevent land erosion - A seawall acts as a barrier to keep the land where it belongs rather than washing it into the sea.
  2. Protect from flooding - Predicting the rise of water due to natural tides and normal weather conditions is relatively easy, but it's challenging to predict storms in Florida. High water levels frequently lead to flooding, causing damage to boats, docks, shorelines, and structures. A well-built seawall can save you from this disaster or give you more time to get to safety.
  3. Long-lasting investment - Seawalls are an investment that, with the right design, construction, and maintenance, will last for many years to come. With the proper seawall, your family and property will be protected for generations.
  4. Uses less space - Vertical seawalls take up less space than most other erosion or flood control methods. Less space means more space for you and your family.

Contact the Experts At Duncan Seawall

When it comes to seawalls, Duncan Seawalls is the premier marine construction company in Southwest Florida. With over 40 years of experience, our team has the experience and knowledge to build the effective and long-lasting seawall you need. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you protect your property with a seawall.


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