Midnight Blue Granite

Why Is Rip Rap Used for Breakwaters?

The Multi-use Landscaping Tool

There is a certain majesty to waterfront property that is hard to beat. The serenity provided by the sound of lapping waves and gentle movement of the water makes for an idealistic setting for most businesses. Kafka Granite is fortunate enough to be surrounded by numerous bodies of water in the Mosinee area.

With over 15,000 lakes in our home state of Wisconsin, we frequently receive calls regarding how to protect waterfront property from erosion. In these cases, we recommend rip rap breakwaters to those seeking multi-use landscape structures that are both useful and aesthetically pleasing. And just to note, we always tell our customers to refer to their state DNR shoreline regulations when considering making any changes to their property’s shoreline.

Breakwaters and Rip Rap

In need of multi-use landscape supplies that are not only beautiful but functional? Rip rap is comprised of naturally occurring rock that has been broken into pieces ranging from 6” to 30” shards. Kafka Granite offers exceptional quartzite and granite rip rap in a vast spectrum of colors.

Rip rap, sometimes seen as riprap, rip-rap or stone armor comes from the nautical word rip-rap, which in 1822 meant “stretch of rippling water.” Rip rap can be classified as either graded or uniform. Graded rip rap is a mixture of stones that vary in size and shape, whereas uniform rip rap is a mix of stones that are all of a similar size and shape. Records of rip rap can be found well before the 1900s. In fact, rip rap became one of the first forms of erosion control when it was used in the building of the Panama Canal in the early 1800s.

Breakwaters are exactly what the name implies; they are offshore structures that protect property from the force of waves by breaking water before it reaches the shore. The first cited use of a breakwater was in 1769.

Shoreline Erosion

Shoreline rip rap used for breakwaters serves many purposes besides being simply pleasing to the eye. Breakwaters made of rip rap help reduce erosion and absorb the force of waves. Without the use of breakwaters, waves can make a significant impact on shorelines. When left unchecked waves can both deposit debris along a shore or result in erosion. Waves will deposit sediment along the shore when the force of the wave dissipates before it reaches land, this results in layers of gravel, sand and debris being left behind. Erosion occurs when waves break along the shore and then carry parts of the shore back out to the water. It is estimated that wave erosion is to blame for the loss of four billion tons of soil annually, resulting in over $20 billion being spent on replacement soil each year.

Shoreline erosion is a natural process that can occur in lakes, rivers, streams and along the coast. Many factors can contribute to shoreline erosion including storms, strong waves, rain, ice, runoff, winds, loss of vegetation and more. As mentioned above, over time shoreline erosion can present an enormous threat to your property’s value, structural integrity and present a serious financial obstacle, so it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure your property’s longevity with the use of a rip rap breakwater.

How to Use Rip Rap

Rip rap has many uses; as landscape stone, to form a breakwater, as abutments and more. Rip rap can also be used as a beautiful accent feature or to build striking retaining walls. We are frequently seeing new ways to use this diverse landscape stone, with customers fabricating fountains, steps, benches, and more from beautiful natural chucks of stone. Anyone who owns land along a lake or riverway should first contact their local county, city, or township with questions regarding standards or permit requirements before starting work on their shoreline.

Advantage of Rip Rap Against Other Types of Retainers

Rip rap is an easy-to-use and easy-to-maintain landscape stone that is a very low-maintenance alternative to other traditional retaining walls. Rip rap should be checked annually or after any large storms to ensure that no stones have been displaced. You shouldn’t allow wooden vegetation to grow on your rip rap due to the eventual displacement of your stone from the plant’s root system. Wooden vegetation includes shrubbery such as willow and dogwood plants and smaller grasses such as fox sedge, rattlesnake manna grass and tall manna grass.

A breakwater made of rip rap has another great advantage that you might not have considered—natural wildlife habitat! Traditional vertical seawalls offer no protection or benefits for the local ecosystem, but a rip rap breakwater provides an excellent place for wildlife to feed and hide. Once installed you can expect to see a whole new ecosystem develop around your property. Below are some further advantages of rip rap breakwaters.

  • Rip rap is specifically designed to fight again erosion
  • You will receive a high level of protection for minimal shoreline maintenance
  • Rip rap is intended to withstand a high degree of impact and velocity
  • Once installed, rip rap provides lasting long-term protection
  • Rip rap is a natural repellent to common pests such as rodents and muskrats
  • Rip rap will help secure the longevity of your property’s value

Kafka Granite Rip Rap

After you’ve consulted with your local DNR and are ready to build your rip rap breakwater, look no further than Kafka Granite. Our rip rap selection is comprised of a variety of colored, sized and shaped stones reaching up to 4 feet in diameter. We offer 13 distinctly unique color options including:

  • Cajun Spice Granite
  • Caramel Quartzite
  • Chocolate Brown Granite
  • Dynamite Orange Granite
  • Imperial Gray Granite
  • Linwood Granite
  • Mauve Granite
  • Midnight Blue Granite
  • Platinum Granite
  • Ruby Red Granite
  • Shamrock Green Granite
  • Starlight Black Granite
  • Wintergreen Granite

Rip rap is a great solution for those looking for an aesthetically pleasing stone for a large scale project, for both contractors and architects alike. No project is too small or too large at Kafka Granite. Additionally, while usually known for our crushed stone aggregates, we take pride in offering unique raw rip rap that shines in both form and feature. The natural colors found in our rip rap are sure to complement your next shoreline or breakwater project perfectly. Get in touch with Kafka Granite today to discuss your next rip rap breakwater project. Our rip rap selection is now available for online viewing.