What Is a Culvert and What Type Should I Use?


A culvert can be described as a transverse and completely enclosed drainage structure that is located under the road or a portion of land. The size and shape of the culvert are determined by the quantity of water that flows through it, the space discharged to it, and what depth the culvert is constructed. Certain culverts are also used as road surfaces, however, they are always used to move water through the channel or pipe. The selection and the type of material used will be based on the relative costs as well as the site where the construction is located, the availability of skilled labor, the time limit, and the design suggested.

Box Culvert

The most commonly used type of culvert is a box culvert. Box culverts are constructed with the floor of concrete (sometimes other materials are utilized too) floor, allowing water to flow easily through it. Box culverts are typically comprised of Reinforced Concrete (RCC). Some box culverts may be constructed with composite structures. They are ideal for situations where water has to be moved in one direction or the amount of flow anticipated. Box culverts can be built in such where the top is also the road surface. The most challenging aspect in installing these kinds of culverts is the fact that you require a dry area to put in the culvert. Therefore, dewatering or a diversion of the water is necessary to finish the installation.

Arch Culvert

An arch culvert is typically a culvert with a low profile. They can be constructed without affecting the causeway since they will extend across the entire width of drainage. They’re typically constructed of stone, metal, or masonry as well as RCC. They can be installed quickly and don’t require to purchase of costly water diversion structures to put them in place. They are commonly used in the semicircular, an elliptical arch or boxes made of concrete. Another advantage of this kind of design is its installation process is not going to require a long time when compared to traditional box culverts.


Pipes Culverts come in a variety of shapes like circular, elliptical, or pipe arches. While circular pipes are most popular, other designs can be utilized based on the specific conditions on the site. They are priced competitively and they are simple to put in. Like other types of culverts choosing the culvert is contingent on the hydraulic design as well as other factors that may influence their performance and effectiveness. It is the most popular choice in urban areas and is commonly utilized to manage storm sewers.

The Installation of Culverts and Tips for Selection

When you are deciding on the kind of culvert that is appropriate for your project, you’ll have to take into consideration the following aspects:

  • The culvert should be constructed at the proper level and at the right grade to ensure that there is no erosion problem.
  • Maintaining closed culverts may be an issue and become more challenging in the future. Maintenance costs should be taken into consideration during the process of selection.
  • The outlet and inlet of the culvert should be designed and constructed with care. Ends that are mitered are the most efficient way to finish a culvert. Mitered ends permit the proper flow and help in your flow.
  • Flared ends near the outlet of a culvert could stop or minimize the scouring.
  • It is recommended to put in Rip-raps or other similar structures to avoid erosion of the culvert’s outlet.
  • The correct aggregate material should be used as a backfill material along the sides, beneath, and over the culvert as needed. The correct aggregate will stop erosion and ensure the integrity of the culvert.
  • If you can, place culverts with natural draws across all roads.
  • Think about the type of people who will be traveling across the culvert and the length it’s. Sometimes culverts fall over if they’re not designed properly.
  • The installation cost and the resources available must be an aspect to take into account prior to making the best choice.

Other considerations when installing culverts

After you’ve decided on the type of culvert you’ll use Make sure that all permits for environmental use are current. Make sure that all NPDES requirements are met and that the proper equipment is in place for installing your culvert. Then backfill it, and compact the soil according to engineering specifications.

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