6 Considerations For Designing A Seawall

3 November 2020
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog

Seawall design is a tricky business that requires lots of seemingly small considerations with big implications. By working with a seawall design engineer, you can determine the best way to proceed. Here are 6 problems you'll need to address before you move ahead with construction.

Waves, Wakes, and Other Forces

Much of the decision boils down to just how much of a beating you expect the seawall to take. This is especially the case in terms of materials. Smaller stones or gravel may be ideal for locations where the pounding is fairly light. However, you might want to go with a seawall design that's big on large stones or even concrete if you're worried about forces driven by boat traffic or storms.

Local Geology

The ground the seawall will stand on is also a major factor. If you're dealing with a lot of sand or silt, for example, you may need to build the seawall deeper to ensure erosion doesn't undo your good work. In some cases, steel pilings will serve as anchors. Conversely, you might get away with a fairly simple design that focuses on installing slabs of stone if the geology is mostly clay. The goal of a seawall design engineer is always to ensure that forces won't bore underneath the wall and undermine it.


Some currents come very close to shore. If those currents are dangerous, you may need to consider protecting people who are walking nearby. Riprap is a seawall design intended to prevent soil erosion. Additionally, it also imposes more space between the shoreline and the water. That can discourage people from going near spots where there are dangerous currents.

Environmental Impact

The ability of sea life and plants to interact with the ecosystem is important. Smaller stones, for example, tend to allow plants to colonize the seawall area. Conversely, concrete and steel barriers can impede the ingress and egress of living things.


You'd probably prefer the seawall to not be an eyesore, if possible. Stone materials usually look best, and some smaller types can blend in almost seamlessly. If you need a more solid structure, something with a walking area can give the seawall an architectural feel.


If you're planning to make use of the seawall area, it's wise to discuss these with the engineer early on. There are bigger engineering challenges if you need to install, for example, a dock with plumbing and electrical systems. A designer can often integrate practical features into the seawall. Contact a company, such as Reuben Clarson Consulting, for more information.