Vinyl vs Steel

Steel vs. Vinyl Seawall

Lake Trades most popular selling seawalls are steel and is recommended for projects on Lake Michigan. Vinyl seawalls  are slightly more cost-efficient and generally used for smaller lakes and channels. Call Lake Trades to see which will fit the needs of your lakefront property.

There are many different types of seawalls currently offered for install along most waterfront homes. Choosing the right material for your lake front is important and what you choose will determine if your property is protected.

Vinyl piling seawalls and steel piling seawalls are two types of seawalls designed to protect your shoreline effectively against moving water and ice. These walls consist of interlocking pilings driven into the ground, this make them effective against water. When installed properly to the correct depth washout under and behind the wall is non-existent / along with heaving of the pilings from ground frost.

Vinyl seawalls consist of driving 18” width by 1/4” thickness vinyl pilings into the lake bed. This seawall is most commonly capped off with a treated lumber double wale and top board. The tie back system consists of 5/8” diameter threaded rod tied back to a 5 – 9′ depth structural I-beam anchor. The pros of vinyl seawalls include: no rusting or corroding of the pilings, 3 color options, and ideal for mucky soil conditions along some shorelines due to its light weight. The only con for vinyl seawalls is that they are designed for low ice pressure areas. This limits them to areas with no previous signs of ice damage and smaller waterways like canals.

If you have a tall seawall that calls for large amounts of back fill I would not recommend a vinyl seawall. Last but not least, most customers would like their seawall to be maintenance free. The treated lumber cap system attached to the top of a vinyl wall calls for normal maintenance such as staining or sealing with a treatment. Most vinyl manufacturers offer a no maintenance aluminum capping system typically available at a higher cost, ask your installer for details.

Steel Seawall

Ok, let’s talk about steel seawalls. Steel seawalls come in black steel (regular raw steel) and galvanized steel (gray color steel). Black steel pilings will naturally oxidize and turn a brown, galvanized steel pilings wall holds their dim gray color. The cons of this wall include: In mucky soil type conditions, a longer piling will be needed to compensate, which will bump up the cost. Eventually, over the course of 30 to 60 years, this wall will corrode and rust at the high water line along the wall.

Steel seawall consists of driving 18” wide pilings of  solid steel into the lake bed and capped off with angle iron. Steel comes in a 8 or 5 gauge (just under 1/4” thickness). Once steel is on the ground the angle iron is then properly welded directly to each piling for a secure attachment. We recommend you make sure the contractor does not torch holes in the metal and then bolt the angle iron to the pilings. This will cause problems within future years due to ice pressure bursting these bolts through the torched holes – freezing any attachment between angle iron cap, wale, and pilings.

The tie back system for this wall consists of 3/4” diameter threaded rod tied back to a structural I-beam anchor. The pros of this wall include: There is no maintenance required, it’s extremely durable, it’s designed for any type of ice pressure & sand backfill pressure/weight, and comes in two different types of metal.

Lake Trades most popular selling seawalls are steel and is recommended for projects on Lake Michigan. Vinyl seawalls  are slightly more cost-efficient and generally used for smaller lakes and channels. Call Lake Trades to see which will fit the needs of your lakefront property.

 

Lake Trades Vinyl Seawall
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