Types Of Dams That Dam Construction Contractors Must Know

dam construction contractors

Different types of dams are designed and constructed based on the material used, Design, functions, structure, and size. Hence, classification can be made on any of the mentioned factors. Here are some of the types of dams that are used in construction and are important for dam construction contractors to know.

Types of dams that dam construction contractors must know

Rigid Dams

  1. Masonry Dam

As the name implies, the dam is made based on masonry. It can be either brick masonry or stone masonry. Furthermore, cement mortar is used to join the masonry blocks. The further classification of Masonry dams is based on Gravity dams and arch dams.

  1. Concrete Dam

Concrete is the common material which is used to construct the dam. Moreover, most of the world’s dams are constructed with concrete. Again the Arch dam, Gravity dam and Buttress dams are the types of dams that use concrete for their construction.

  1. Timber dam

Timber dams are mainly on construction sites and are mostly 9m high. They are used to control flood water flow by diverting the water.

  1. Steel dams

Steel dams are also similar to timber dams. Inclined struts and steel plates are used for their construction. Steel dams are used over Timber dams is because they can be used for 15 to 18inces height.

Non-Rigid dams

  1. Earthen dams

Earthen dams are made from ordinary soil, which can be available cheaply. This dam can be used where the soil foundation is not that strong to carry the weight of the masonry dam. Because it is constructed from ordinary soil, the cost of its construction is less as compared to the rigid type of dam.

  1. Rock filled dam

This dam is made from boulders and rocks. The upstream side is made with dry rubble masonry, and the downstream side is filled with loose rock. A, a reinforced concrete slab layer is used upstream s to make water tight. It is more durable and strong than earthen dams and is durable against earthquake forces.

Classification based on structure and Design

  1. Gravity Dam

Gravidity dams are the ones which prevent external forces by using their self-weight. It is mostly constructed with concrete and masonry. Such external forces include wave pressure, uplift pressure, water pressure, ice pressure, and earthquake pressure. These forces are averted by diverting it vertically downwards. Strong rock strata are required under the dam for its foundation. Mostly the gravity dam is triangular.

  1. Arch dam

The arch dam is built with the convex upstream, and several forces coming into it are resisted by its arch action. It is made of concrete and masonry but requires less material than gravity dams. Here the forces and loads are coming to the abutments of the dams; therefore, its abutments must be stronger than usual. Arch dams are mostly narrow valleys.

  1. Buttress dam

Buttress dams consist of the base slab, buttresses and face slab. A face slab is usually provided upstream with the buttress’s support. This dam is used where the soil is weak. This type of dam is built where the soil foundation is not very strong.


Hence, there are different types of dams based on their Design, structure and material used. Moreover dam construction contractors must know all the types so their construction go smooth.