A good example of geotextile use is if you drive past a construction site, you will often see a black or gray fabric “silt fence” about 2 feet high along the limits of construction. The silt fence is used to inhibit the transport of most soil particles off the project site while allowing water to pass through the fabric. In this situation, the geotextile is used for filtration. In addition to filtration, common uses of geotextiles include separation, reinforcement, and drainage.
Design by Function
The use of geosynthetics has increased extensively over the last two decades to the point where they are now commonly used in construction. Geosynthetics include geotextiles, geogrids, geocomposites, and geomembranes, among others. Geotextiles are the most common type of geosynthetic and the focus of this “Lessons Learned”.
Geotextiles are fabrics that are used in earthwork, dams, buildings, and pavement construction to solve earthwork problems, provide reinforcement, drainage, filter water, and/or separate dissimilar materials. Geotextiles are made of synthetic polymers typically consisting of polypropylene, polyester, and polyethylene, and typically are “woven”, or “non-woven”. Since some polymers perform better in certain aggressive soil environments than others, it is important to consider the environment in which the geotextiles will be used.