Seawalls and Bulkheads

We design and build structures that protect homes by reducing the natural erosion of land by water.

The Difference Between Seawalls and Bulkheads

While the two terms tend to be interchanged, seawalls goes the “extra step” to offer protection of a shoreline from the action of the waves while also helping to ward off soil erosion. They are in place to combat pounding surf and the ferocity of waters that result from coastal storm events.

For seaside towns, this coastal defense system is typically installed to protect its citizens, but private seawalls for residential homes provide that extra layer between the homeowner’s property line and the water. Seawalls can be constructed from any number of materials like concrete, vinyl, and/or riprap; sometimes a combination of the two.

An embankment that defends the shoreline from erosion and potential flooding, you could say a seawall is simply delaying the inevitable, but when you live at the waterfront, these are steps essential to co-exist with nature and to respect those boundaries.


A more common form of shoreline stabilization at locales like marinas, bulkheads typically prove an economical shoreline boundary that separates the marina from the actual slips.

Like any structure with a percentage of its surface residing beneath the water, bulkheads need to be consistently monitored for their inevitable deterioration. The source of this deterioration is due to the natural properties of water and marine life, but even man-made issues like scour from propellers can gouge the bulkhead’s surface.

The argument to have structures like bulkheads professionally designed and built with superior materials is supported by the need for safety. Engineering bulkheads to support the anticipated traffic is particularly key as a heavier category of machinery travels them. This is the same reason why bulkheads require consistent preventative maintenance via scheduled condition studies.

Bulkhead design takes into account multiple factors – and makes for an interesting exercise in taking its installation in water juxtaposed with its need for stability on land.

To that end, besides the determination of the best material to suit for its strength and performance, a deep analysis of the marine environment where it is being installed is essential:

  • Is the exposure to fresh water or salt water?
  • What are the properties of the soil for the embedment? Is it clay or sand, and what is the unit weight of these materials, how does that factor into stabilizing the bulkhead?
  • What elevations and grading need to be calculated?
  • What is the water table measurement?

Hire a Professional Marine Construction Specialist to Build Your Seawall or Bulkhead

As marine construction specialists, there is no shortage of reasons to hire a professional to build such structures. It is just as valid to hire a contractor to inspect and repair both seawalls and bulkheads to maintain their integrity and ensure the safety of all who use them – whether they are for commercial or residential use.

Budgetary constraints are always a consideration that can be factored into a solid solution to support either a seawall or a bulkhead – an informed analysis is what provides the best foundation.

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