As someone who works on commercial projects, you understand the importance of balancing upfront costs, safety concerns, relevant regulations, and the lifespan of what you design and construct. There is significant push and pull between these factors.
Focusing too much on a budget can result in a project that doesn’t meet safety standards while putting all your attention on the project quality will yield a final product that is well over budget.
For many commercial projects, such as roads and driveways, erosion control and slope stabilizations, geocell foundations can both reduce project costs and improve longevity and durability.
But what exactly is a geocell foundation and how does it work? Understanding what geocells are made of and how they function, some general use cases, the benefits, and some of the history will help you decide if a geocell foundation is right for your project.
What is Geocell and What is it Made of?
Geocell structures are three-dimensional, honeycomb structures that provide affordable and reliable slope stabilization and load support.
Today, most geocell foundations are composed of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) that is ultrasonically welded together into a honeycomb shape.
There are also two general types of geocells: perforated and non-perforated. Perforated geocells allow for more natural drainage through the whole structure and provide superior stress distribution, whereas non-perforated geocells have smooth solid walls and work with a more traditional drainage system. Our geocell products are typically perforated, but we can custom-design panels that fit around your existing water systems if needed.
How does Geocell Work?
In terms of function, geocells are what’s called a cellular confinement system. This means that the structure holds all the infill materials in place and distributes any weight or pressure from above across the infill and the cell walls. Geocells are three-dimensional cellular structures, which means that the system distributes pressure laterally and vertically across the area.
Practically, this means geocell is perfect for intense load support applications. For example, take a road that will support commercial vehicles, which are heavy and usually don’t have great weight distribution. Geocell will stabilize that road and distribute that heavy weight across a larger area.
History of Geocell
The United States Army developed and began implementing the original geocell structures in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Originally made from plastic and wax, geocells were first utilized to stabilize sand roads.
Over time, engineers have adjusted the composition of the geocells while generally using the same honeycomb structure. Most geocell products today are made from welded HDPE.
What is Geocell used for?
There are a variety of residential and commercial uses for geocells. Some common applications include the construction of roads, the development of slopes, and erosion control.
Roads and Parking Lots
One of the most common – and original – uses for geocell products is for roads, including gravel and dirt roads. Whether you are developing an access road, a permanent forest road, or a temporary road on a slope, geocell systems effectively protect and stabilize the road. Roads constructed with geocell foundations combine great load distribution and reliability and stability with affordability.
Geocell structures also serve as an effective base material for parking lots. Developers can utilize geocell in gravel lots to ensure proper support and prevent rut problems as well as in paved lots to reduce costs and drainage issues.
Another common use for geocell is slope stabilization and protection. More traditional slope stabilization methods, such as terraces and stone facing, are expensive and complex. Slopes with little vegetation and steep grades require frequent attention and costly solutions.
The stabilization of steep slopes is feasible and more affordable with a geocell foundation. The load distribution that geocell provides means that no one area of the slope will bear too much weight.
One of the most common uses of geocell system foundations is as an erosion control measure. Preventing water and wind from causing erosion on a slope is about much more than just the slope itself. It’s about protecting the homes, businesses, and people at the top and bottom that would suffer if the slope were to fail.
Geocell systems function as an extremely effective erosion control measure for slopes and shorelines. No matter the value of the property at the top and bottom and no matter the grade of the slope, geocells can effectively prevent erosion.
With unrivaled strength and load distribution and flexible infill possibilities, Geocells serve as a great retaining wall base. No matter how soft the soil, how steep the slope, or how large the project scale, geocell can support a retaining wall for 75 years or longer. Developers and engineers use geocell products for gravity walls, MSE walls, and even cantilevered walls.
What are the Benefits of Geocell?
Geocell grid foundations provide a lot of benefits for all types of commercial development projects.
Most slope stabilization, load support, and erosion control measures are either ineffective or overly expensive. Geocell foundations are an affordable solution because the product itself is not overpriced and because it reduces the amount of required infill material and allows for the use of cheaper materials – like recycled infill or local aggregate.
Simple and Quick Construction
Most retaining wall, commercial landscape, and road construction projects require a laundry list of specialists, both for the engineering and actual construction. Geocell foundations and solutions are simple and reduce the number of specialists needed throughout the process. You will still need to consult with engineers to ensure your project’s success, but the installation process is simple.
One reason that so many engineers and developers choose geocell foundations is the natural drainage. No matter the infill material that you choose, the perforated perimeter cell walls allow for water to flow between the cells and out of the entire structure. This natural flow of water enhances the longevity and structural integrity of any road, retaining wall, or slope structure that you are developing.
With a geocell foundation, you are free to utilize a variety of infill materials. Some of the most common infills used with geocell structures include gravel, recycled infill, pavement, soil and grass, and local aggregate, depending on the project. The engineers at BaseCore can even help you find inexpensive local materials to use.
Strength and Longevity
Composed of welded HDPE, geocell foundations provide unparalleled strength for foundations, retaining walls, steep slopes, and other industrial project. With geocell, you can protect and stabilize your project more effectively than traditional methods for a fraction of the cost. In fact, our geocell foundations last at least 75 years.
Geocell for your Next Commercial Project
From forest access roads to multi-layered earth retaining and water retaining gravity structures to steep slopes, geocell is a diverse and affordable product for any commercial project. No matter the specifics of your project, you have to think about the long-term reliability and environmental impact of your product.
With geocells, you can rest assured that your project will stand the test of time and be worth the investment.
Our team of engineers is ready to help you with your next project. Fill out our online contact form to learn more about BaseCore geocell products or give us a call at (888)-511-1553.