Rock Revetment

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Rock Revetment Overview

What is Rock Revetment?

Rock Revetment is a marine construction solution that absorbs the energy coming from incoming waves and water. Revetment prevents and lessens the damages of coastal erosion. Revetments are sloped structures containing various layers of large stone and geotextiles placed on banks and shorelines used to prevent shoreline loss.

What Problems It Solves:

Rock Revetment prevents, slows, and lessons erosion.

Images of Rock Revetment

Advantages & Disadvantages of Rock Revetment


  • Absorb wave energy
  • Effective for generations
  • Protects the Great Lakes’ sand-bars and beaches from long-term damage
  • Assures natural beaches will re-form when water levels drop again
  • Can be cost-effective compared to other techniques
  • Great for protecting lakeshore assets, like homes on Lake Michigan.


  • Costs can be higher due to expensive materials
  • Installation is more challenging

Rock Revetment Process


There are many different kinds of rock revetment projects. Depending on the size of your project and where you are located, the exact construction process may differ slightly.

  1. Get a Permit: If you are going to start a rock revetment project, in many cases, you’ll need a permit from the DEQ. Permits take some time get and you’ll need coastal engineering to approve your project.
  2. Contact a Coastal Consultant: Rock revetment construction should not be done without expertise from a coastal consultant and marine construction contractors. Rock structures on the shoreline should be designed with careful consideration for the rock size, face slopes, crest elevation, and crest width. An expert will be able to walk you through this process.
  3. Get Bids from Contractors: You’ll need to identify local rock revetment specialists, or find one and get bids for free through Marine Matcher.
  4. Schedule Your Project: Weather and time of year permitting, you’ll schedule your project with a marine construction contractor to get started.
  5. Initial Excavation: Rock revetment starts with an initial excavation of material above and below the site where rock revetment will be installed.
  6. Geotextile Cloth: After initial excavation, a layer of geotextile cloth, which is a thick, non-woven material, will be laid to provide a base layer that prevents rocks from settling into the sand and soil.
  7. Rock Placement: Rocks are then placed in varying sizes and in varying locations.


The materials needed for a rock revetment project include:

  • Toe stone, which can be the size of an SUV and weigh 4-6 tons per stone.
  • Bedding stone, which is used as the first layer of stone and is typically between 8″ to 18″ in diameter per stone.
  • Geotextile cloth, which is a thick layer of cloth for the rock to rest on to prevent rocks from settling into the sand.
  • Armor stone, which is placed on top of the entire solution, creating the outermost layer. Armor stones are between 24″ to 48″ in diamter.

Permitting Process

If you are in Michigan, visit the Shoreline Protection page of EGLE.

Common Problems

When you start exploring a rock revetment project there are a number of problems you might face:

  • Permitting issues. A lot of times getting a permit can take a lot of time and some projects need to be started sooner rather than later.
  • Costs. Rock revetment is not the most affordable shoreline erosion protection solution.

Questions To Ask Contractors

When working with a contractor to get a bid, make sure to ask some of the following questions:

  • How is the toe of the rock revetment being properly excavated and installed?
  • What other rock revetment projects have you recently done? Do you have any testimonials?
  • Are there any unforeseen costs that I might have?

Different Types of Rock Revetment

There are not different types of rock revetment solutions, but each project is unique. Some projects will not require as much planning material as others.

Alternative Solutions to Rock Revetment

There are a number of alternatives to rock revetment, including:

  • Seawalls
  • Sandbags
  • Groin walls

Each alternative comes with its advantages and disadvantages.

Service vs ServiceAdvantagesDisadvantages
Rock Revetment vs Seawalls

Rock revetment, compared to seawalls;

  • is typically a more long-term solution.
  • typically requires less maintenance.
  • does not creating a scouring effect that washes out foundational sand.

Rock revetment, compared to seawalls;

  • is more expensive.
Rock Revetment vs Sandbags

Rock revetment, compared to sandbags;

  • is a much more reliable solution.
  • will not be as affected by weather.
  • is a more permanent solution.

Rock revetment, compared to sandbags;

  • is more expensive.
  • typically cannot be a DIY or homemade solution for erosional control.
Rock Revetment vs Groin Walls

Rock revetment, compared to groin walls;

  • are more natural and not damaging to the environment like groin walls.

Rock revetment, compared to groin walls;

  • is more expensive.

Costs of Rock Revetment

There are many associated costs that come with a rock revetment solution. Typically, final costs to the buyer are broken down at a cost per linear foot.

Costs are impacted by:

  • Equipment required.
  • The number of people required for the project.
  • Material required for the project.
  • The difficulty of the project.

Bid & Buying Solicitation

The best way to start gathering bids and estimates for your project is by reaching out to qualified contractors. You can do so right here at Marine Matcher.

DIY Solutions for Rock Revetment

For smaller projects around a creek, pond, or lake, yes. It is possible to purchase the rip rap material, geotextile cloth, stone, and other equipment to create your own solution.

For larger jobs along the Great Lakes or other large bodies of water like Oceans, no. You will need a professional marine construction contractor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use rock revetment for cliff erosion?

Yes. If your cliff or bluff meets the angle or excavation profile necessary for revetment design, then it can be a viable solution. Typically this is at least a ration of 2.5:1.

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Tell us about your project and we'll follow up with an email to help you find up to three of the best marine construction contractors for your project.

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