The Marine Bulkhead Repair Guide
The complete guide to repairing marine bulkheads and seawalls and protect waterfront real estate from erosion.



bulkhead repairHomeowners can prevent bulkhead destruction and land erosion with some simple and cost effective marine bulkhead repairs.
Marine Bulkhead     Bulkhead Repair  Floating Docks  Boat Lifts  Swim Floats

Bulkhead Repair
Many bulkheads can be temporarily repaired rather than replaced. While this may not be a permanent solution an inexpensive repair and add years of life to an existing bulkhead. Lets look at the design elements of most wood bulkheads. 2 tongue and grove planks are used for the actual bulkhead planking. These planks are placed vertical and form a wall to retain soil. Pilings are jetted deep into the soil and are held in place by tie rods which angle back to anchors which are buried on the land side of the bulkhead. Whalers, which are shaped like railroad ties are run horizontal between the pilings and the planks. basically the Pilings with supporting anchors provide all the strength to the system. The whalers which are supported by the pilings hold all of the tongue and groove planks in place and the planks hold the soil back.

wood bulkhead repair capped with pressure treated wood
The wood bulkhead above has been capped with tongue and grove pressure treated planks. These planks are held in place with pressure treated 2x4's which are spiked into the bulkheads whalers.

When decay causes any holes in the planks of a bulkhead soil can wash out with each tide or rainfall. Repairing a few small holes is relatively easy. Just did down till the hole is exposed and screw a pressure treated board in place to cover the hole. Capping can be done to repair a bulkhead which is loaded with holes. Capping is very effective as long as the whalers and pilings are still in good shape. Capping is basically placing new 2 tongue and grove pressure treated planks over the old. This is done on the exterior of water side of the bulkheading. The capping planks are held in place with pressure treated 2x4s which can be spiked into the existing whalers. I capped the bulkhead on my existing home and was able to gain an additional 18 years of life from the bulkhead.

Look close at the above images. The bulkhead pilings have pulled free from their anchors. A temporary repair was made using chain, cable and new anchors described below. This type of repair will not pull the bulkhead back into alignment but will prevent further damage for a season or so.

The third type of repair is much harder and unfortunately not as successful. This repair should only be attempted by those who are familiar with rigging, cable, and come-a-longs. When one or even a few pilings have decayed the tie rods holding them in place can rip through the wood. This usually means its time for new bulkheading. The homeowner may delay the expenses by one or two seasons by creating a new anchor to hold the decaying piling upright. Start by digging a pit about nine feet long thee feet wide and at least eight feet deep. Then did a trench slopping upward from the hole to the rotted out piling. Then get four pressure treated 4x4x8 posts. Drill holes through each and hammer tie rods through creating one solid 8x8x8 post. Do not cut off any extra length of tie rod. Wrap and secure a cable around the post and drop it into the eight foot hole. the cable should run up the slopping trench towards the piling. Concrete can be poured on top of the post and the hole filled in. Wrap a separate cable around the piling and use a come-a-long to apply tension. You will not be able to pull the bulkheading back into place only support the piling in its present position. Once pressure is applied attach both cables with proper hardware and bury the exposed cable. The new anchor will not last for long but should hold the piling in place for a season or two.

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Suggested Reading
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