What is a Seawall?

First, what is a seawall, and what is its function? A seawall is a coastal structure designed of concrete, masonry, or sheet piles. Seawall construction is typically built parallel to the shore. Investing in a professional seawall installation means that you will have a structure that protects the inland area against large waves and coastal erosion. Smaller seawalls for private residential areas add aesthetic appeal to your waterfront property.

At Radtke Contractors, our skilled seawall installers have been installing seawalls and other marine structures since 1976. We employ only the most experienced marine experts to assist with coastal management structures. To get started with your seawall installation quote, please reach out to us at (920) 582-4114.

Seawall Construction

Our team builds Radtke seawalls to enhance and preserve our precious coastline properties. There are several benefits to seawall construction:

  • These shoreline devices offer fantastic protection against eroding embankments and bluffs.

  • They also preserve and beautify your coastline property and minimize damage from unwieldy conditions.

Different Types of Seawall Installations

Whether vertical, curved or stepped in structure, a seawall serves as a wave-break and repels water with ease. Overall, there are four different styles of seawall structures. These include riprap, boulder, sheet pile, and concrete seawalls:

  • Riprap seawalls These seawalls consist of both large and small boulders, along with chunks of concrete. Riprap seawalls are a great choice for reinforcing the shoreline, preventing soil erosion in waterfronts wherever there is light to moderate wave action – particularly during a thunderstorm.

  • Boulder seawalls – These seawalls bare resemblance to the decorative rock walls you’ll see inland. These are aesthetically pleasing, constructed with large rocks and boulders, and are held together using mortar. A great choice for waterfront properties that have light to moderate wave action.

  • Sheet pile seawalls – This seawall is not as aesthetically pleasing as the other options mentioned here. Their primary purpose is to deflect waves and prevent soil erosion. During construction, a sheet pile seawall is anchored deep into the soil and is laid against the bank for additional support. This seawall design is good for moderate wave action and minimizing soil erosion.

  • Concrete seawalls – These are massive seawalls that are constructed in areas where there are frequent, large waves that would otherwise impact the shoreline. Seawall contractors build these concrete structures using large blocks of concrete that are poured into place. 

Vertical Seawalls

This type of seawall consists of walls that are constructed to stand straight up in the air. Usually made of steel or concrete, they are easy for construction workers to build. Vertical seawalls take the full brunt of waves, which means that they will wear down quite quickly.

As a result, vertical seawalls are the best choice for wherever waters are calm or the coastline is protected. A vertical seawall can easily stand against smaller waves without needing frequent repairs.

Curved Seawalls

Curved seawalls can redirect large waves without causing as much disturbance when compared with vertical seawalls. These large seawalls, which are typically constructed from concrete, effectively divert the energy of a wave, which causes less turbulence to the water around it.

Their ability to reduce the power of large waves means that they are the best choice of seawall when it comes to protecting coastlines.

Mound Seawalls

Mound seawalls are constructed of rock and concrete blocks and create a mound, which helps to reduce the force of waves that repeatedly hit the shoreline. A mound’s seawall’s purpose is to slow the momentum of the waves.
Mound seawalls are cheaper than vertical and curved seawalls. However, they are not a good choice for exposed or high-energy shores. If a mound seawall is exposed to too much velocity, it will wear away faster and leave a ramp for waves.

Stepped Seawalls

A stepped seawall is a good option for shorelines affected by moderate wave activity. Typically designed with concrete, it is a highly effective choice for protecting the shoreline from damage.

Stepped seawalls redirect waves without causing as much disturbance as vertical seawalls. Stepped and curved seawalls may be constructed together, or a stepped seawall may be curved in shape.

Seawall Materials

Our seawalls are made from:

  • Southern yellow pine

  • A galvanized steel tie beam system

The design of Southern yellow pine and the galvanized steel beam system is guaranteed to prevent soil from being pulled into the water and away from your waterfront property.

Installing seawalls with rock riprap to create a natural habitat for fish and other shoreline animals is very common. At Radtke Contractors, we also welcome the incorporation of any shoreline plantings or structures into seawall design, such as docks, wall decks, and boat lifts.

Seawall FAQs

What are the different types of seawalls?

Seawalls can be vertical, curved, stepped, or built-in mounds of rock, concrete blocks, and rubble. Each of these has their pros and cons, but each of them is effective against low, moderate, or high wave activity and help to protect your shoreline from eroding.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a seawall?

The advantage to a seawall is that they protect the shoreline, base of cliffs, and buildings against water damage, coastal flooding, and erosion. Disadvantages include being expensive to maintain and can be an unattractive addition to a beach.

What is the best type of seawall?

Multiple types of seawalls are effective for low to high waves. However, the strongest and overall most effective type is a concrete seawall. Concrete is beneficial for larger seawalls, and can even be custom designed for aesthetic appeal.

What is the best wood to use for a seawall?

For a small residential or beach seawall, you may opt for wood construction. The best type of wood to use for seawall construction is Southern Pine.

Our Seawall Builders

With decades of experience in the industry, our seawall builders are committed to quality. Our founders, Robert and Muriel Radtke focused on three values: discipline, responsibility, and family. To this day, our seawall builders continue to uphold these three values.

At Radtke Contractors, we educate and train our employees with the latest industry knowledge to tackle any and every seawall installation project. You can rely on our seawall construction experts to provide only the best quality construction services.


Give our company a call today at (920) 582-4114 or visit our contact page to contact us today to learn how your shoreline can be improved.

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