After deciding to build, restructure, reinforce, or upgrade your existing seawall, one of the first steps that your marine contractors will take is determining the type of material to use.
Although a reputable and experienced seawall contractor will know which materials will best suit your seawall needs, it’s good to be informed so you fully understand your construction team’s decisions.
Here we look at some of the pros and cons of two of the most common seawall building materials: vinyl and concrete.
Both choices include benefits but picking the right one depends on your specific seawall specifications, location, and intended functions – as well as the level of investment and value you want to add to your property.
Vinyl Seawalls Pros and Cons
Vinyl is a relatively newer material next to wood and concrete. Many property owners opt for a vinyl seawall construction because of its modern appearance and versatility.
Pros for Vinyl Seawall in Florida
- Lightweight – Vinyl panels and seawall materials are lightweight, making them easier to transport to a job site, cutting down on time and crew-power.
- Cost-Efficient – For both commercial and residential seawalls, vinyl can offer a reduced cost option and cut down on maintenance costs over time when added to existing seawalls.
- Customization – Vinyl and composite materials are available in many different colors. Your marine contractor can create a custom design to match the aesthetics of your home or dock.
- No Rust – Unlike metal and concrete, Vinyl and composite materials are extremely resistant to corroding, rust, and erosion.
The “Cons” of Vinyl
- Can’t hold up for larger projects – Although vinyl can be a viable option for smaller projects, the lightweight material can’t hold up against concrete for large seawalls. Taller seawalls that require large amounts of backfill are better suited to concrete.
- Weather conditions – Although vinyl can be a good option for smaller seawalls in freshwater and saltwater waterways like those found in Florida, vinyl seawalls are designed for low ice pressure areas. They are therefore limited to waterfront locations with no previous signs of ice damage.
Concrete Seawalls Pros & Cons
Concrete seawall construction is a popular and often a go-to choice for many dock and seawall builders because of its many benefits and durable qualities.
Pros for Using Concrete
- Durability – Concrete is an extremely durable option for seawall construction. Concrete seawalls are expected to last up to thirty years with little maintenance.
- Low Maintenance – Concrete seawalls can go up to decades with little to no maintenance, saving the property owner time and costs.
- Strength – Concrete seawalls are often used for larger seawalls because of their overall strength compared to other seawall materials.
The Concrete Wall Cons
- Investment cost – Although a durable and low-maintenance option, concrete seawall construction is a financial investment that you need to be prepared for. A good seawall investment will, however, raise and maintain the value of your property over time.
- Erosion – Unlike vinyl, concrete can be susceptible to erosion over time, which can lead to crumbling and damage.
When an existing seawall requires reinforcements or repairs, should your marine contractor suggest concrete or vinyl materials?
Vinyl is the material most often used for these projects.
Vinyl is easier to transport and work with due to its lighter weight.
Vinyl can be installed on top of existing materials for repairs and reinforcements reducing time and costs.
If a failing concrete seawall cannot be replaced with concrete, vinyl can be installed to the water-ward side to prevent further damage.
Interlocking vinyl panels can reduce the potential of erosion, leading to longer-lasting seawall construction and lower maintenance costs over time.
And vinyl panels use a tongue and groove design to form a solid wall, offering long-lasting resistance against the elements.
Vinyl sheet piling is also commonly used to stabilize and raise the height of levees and earthen dams.
Sheet piling made of vinyl also can prevent overtopping, internal seepage, piping of stratum, surface erosion, and rodent damage.
You know your neighborhood – and your dock builders should too! More than that, your contractor should CARE about the curbside apparel as if it were their own backyard.
Especially in Tampa and surrounding areas, you want to work with a dock building contracting company that knows its way around the waterways.
Local builders understand the unique requirements of the area and the contingencies of marine life, climate and seasons, and neighborhood aesthetics.
Whether you’re on the Intracoastal, on the river, or in a more residential area, your contractor should know the local landscape as well as you do.
Tampa Dock and Seawall has crew members local to Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and other nearby communities.
Working with a reputable local dock builder, your property or design project will be in reliable hands.
Concrete panels can be custom designed to match your dock, walkway, or other structures on your property. And concrete materials can be designed to suit your individual preferences.
Vinyl and composite materials also come in a wide variety of colors, making it possible to match your seawall design to your existing dock, deck, or home.
The critical thing to remember is that experienced seawall builders will assess your waterfront property and recommend the BEST materials for the job. Be sure to get a consultation with knowledgeable and reputable marine contractors such as Tampa Dock and Seawall.