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Marine Bulkheads

Sound Bulkhead sets the industry standard for bulkhead design. We also have perfected efficient and effective methods for installation and have the equipment to do the job right. This saves our customers time and money while assuring the quality of construction that you will be proud to have as a visible improvement to your property.

properly keyed bulkheadbulkhead cross section

When we use granite, your bulkhead will be warranted for structural defects in material and workmanship for as long as you own your property. This warranty protects against abrasive wear, erosion of product or adjacent soil surfaces, and cracking that causes a structural defect. If you sell your property your wall is warranted for 6 years from the date of installation.

Spaces between stone allows water to escape rapidly to reduce the weight behind and within the structure. The exchange, caused by tidal and ground water movement is a major consideration in any bulkhead application. Rocks are placed in an interlocking pattern which further increases structural integrity. As water inundates a solid concrete wall at high tide, piped drainage systems may not be able to release water quickly enough to avoid “hydraulic push out” or total wall failure. Blocks, laid up in rows may create “hinge-points“ where the wall may be bent forward along a straight line between rows. During times of extreme back-pressure from tidal drop or heavy rains, “hinge points” may contribute to the collapse of the wall. Another reason is that rocks dissipate wave energy much better than a flat surface. This helps to prevent “scour” a major cause of bulkhead failure.

concrete scourcollapsed bulkhead

Although we can use your choice of stone for construction, we recommend granite for structural durability. This rock, formed by granular igneous process, is preferred because of its uniform consistency and purity. In addition, stone has a natural binding quality and high coefficient of friction which adds stability to construction. Other types of rock, such as basalt, are formed by volcanic activity and are actually lava castings. Basalts often have imbedded impurities which may cause inconsistency and defects. These defects may not be apparent until a year or more has past in the salt water environment. They also may have a smother surface and can slide against each other, thus detracting from the structural integrity of a wall.


Sound Bulkhead sets base rock in a trench or “key-way” which provides lateral support for the toe of the bulkhead. Since water scour and undermining is a major consideration for all types of bulkheads, the depth required for maximum protection may vary according to soil conditions. Exposed embankment is minimized as soils are replaced with rock in short segments during excavation. This process protects against bank failure during construction.

properly keyed bulkhead Improperly Keyed Bulkhead

As our standard cross section shows, filter fabric is installed against the bank vertically behind the armor rock and back filled between with 4”x 8” gravel or “spalls”. Complete coverage is essential. Extra heavy non-woven felt prevents soil or sand behind the wall from escaping to cause sink holes. Filter fabric may be used to segregate the finishing gravel on top of the wall (optional) from the larger spall that lay’s beneath.

Sound Bulkhead uses specialized barges to allows us to land high on the beach to minimize impact to your property and the shellfish environment. In addition, our barges can carry all the materials for several jobs. This helps to defray the costs of mobilization which can be shared between projects. One or more of our several excavators fitted with a special rotating rock grapple allows us the manual dexterity to place the rock on your bulkhead skillfully to maximize shoreline protection.

Getting the equipment and materials to the job siteescavator with grappelescavatorFilter Fabric Behind Rock Bulkhead


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