Customer Guide: Which Seawall Product is Right for You?
We believe that customers should have access to the best information out there, so we’ve put together a few commonly asked questions about seawalls in general, and our seawall products in particular.
If you’re in the market for a new seawall or lake wall, get informed about your options, and prepare to make the best decision for your project.
1. What designs are appropriate for distinct coastline types?
A lake wall is usually just a shallow water design with a single waler and tieback at the top.
A seawall along the coast will usually be one or a combination of the following:
- A stronger, beefier vinyl sheet piling profile to help guard against the elements
- A stronger overall design that relies on face pilings and multiple walers for support, like a navy-style wall
- Composite sheet piling used in lieu of vinyl, designed for taller walls where more strength and impact resistance is required
2. Which products and materials are appropriate for seawalls in different locations and climates?
The seawalls on the Atlantic in the Northeast don’t vary tremendously from seawalls on the Gulf in Florida. In the Northeast, however, the walls are generally taller, so you see more navy-style walls with quite a bit of support wood, in the form of face piles and multiple walers.
In Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico, we see a lot of shallow water designs with concrete caps, which are better for warmer weather.
3. What are the compromises involved when taking the cheapest option versus the longest lasting option?
For years people took the cheapest option, which was commonly using pressure-treated wood for a seawall. At that time a vinyl wall would cost about 30% more, and people were unwilling to pay for the upgrade, even though the lifespan for a vinyl wall was significantly higher.
Now a vinyl wall is much closer to the cost of a wood wall. Contractors like vinyl sheeting because of the consistency in material and the ease and speed of installation. Plus, they now work with a guaranteed product with a warranty, rather than wood which has none.
4. On average, how much time does it take to install a seawall on standard beachfront and lakefront home properties?
A typical 100-foot wall can generally be constructed in one week. That includes everything from the demolition of the old wall to construction, tiebacks, cap, and backfill on the new seawall. Some larger, heavily-equipped projects install 150-200 feet of sheet piling per day, and some very experienced marine contractors can be even quicker.
5. When is composite sheet piling preferable to vinyl sheet piling, and vice versa?
For taller walls, like marinas, composite sheet piling is preferable to vinyl. This is also the case for commercial applications where a stronger sheet is required.
Composite often takes the place of what would have been a light-gauge steel sheet, where vinyl takes the place of what may have been a wood or concrete wall. Composite also has better impact strength numbers in very cold climates and conditions.
6. As a homeowner or developer, what do I need to know to differentiate vinyl sheet piling from composite sheet piling, and EverComp from EverWood?
The life expectancy of vinyl and composite is comparable. Vinyl is less expensive, so if the project can get by with vinyl, people will generally go with the cheaper option. We can help direct the end user on whether vinyl will work, or if they should look at the more heavy-duty composite piling.
Everwood is simply poly-coated lumber, so if someone wants to increase the life expectancy of a pressure-treated timber or piling, this can be a great option. EverComp refers to our composite sheets as well as the composite capping and walers. This is generally a more expensive solution, but one which is much more permanent compared to traditional materials.
For more information, look to our Seawalls page, check out our seawall projects, or drop us a line. We’re happy to make coastal defense recommendations specific to your needs, and get you started on your next seawall project.