Kerbs, and What They Are Telling Us

Kerbs may appear to be simply functional, but they provide a number of vital uses for civil engineers. This guide looks at the different types of kerb that we find on our roadsides, and why they have been used. From splayed and battered, to trief kerbs an

Take a walk or a drive, and you’ll probably never look at the kerbs along the road, but you’ll know they’re there. Kerbs serve a number of purposes, from acting as a line of demarcation between road traffic and pedestrians, to preventing cars from leaving the road and forming a channel for drainage.

You’re not allowed to make changes to kerbs at all – and neither are private contractors – without the consent and approval of your local council’s highway department, so they’re pretty important! This is a guide to the most common types of kerb that you will find, and why we use them.

Splayed and Half-Battered Kerbs

These kerbs have a sloping face, and the bottom of the slope is known as the ‘watermark’, in other words, the line above which you wouldn’t expect water to go.

Half-battered kerbs, which have a shorter sloped area than splayed kerbs, are the most common in the UK, while splayed kerbs are used mainly where vehicles might need to bump themselves up the kerb.

Trief kerbs

When you really need to control traffic and ensure maximum visibility, you use the famous Trief kerb. These kerbs look a bit like half a coat hanger, and have been in the UK since 1962. Its concave recess prevents wheels from climbing up the kerb, and you will often find the Trief kerb in car parks, warehouses and dockyards! In fact, anywhere you find trucks. It’s known as the perfect traffic management kerb. Each one can weigh a quarter of a tonne!

Small unit kerbs

From the large to the small, you will often find these kerbs on modern residential estates. They’re also known as block paving kerbs, and have been specifically developed for low kerbs, and can even be seen as decorative. Landscape gardeners tend to like these kerbs, as they complement the environment nicely.

Lightweight kerbs with a frog in the back

Just because they’re lightweight, they’re not necessarily small! They were developed with an eye on health and safety legislation, which saw many kerb layers retiring early with bad backs or musculoskeletal injuries. Charcon’s K-Lite has a frog in the back. No, I’m not joking – a frog, which is industry speak for a recess. Other lightweight kerbs are hollowed out.

This recess drastically reduces the weight of the kerb, and to the untrained eye, they are indistinguishable from normal kerbs.

Droppers

If you do apply to have a kerb dropped in front of your house, perhaps to allow access to a new driveway, then you’ll eventually need some droppers. These transitional kerbs slope downwards to connect high and low kerbs, and often come in two parts, especially if the kerb is curved.

So, the next time you’re taking a walk by the roadside, have a look at the kerbs and see what types you can find – and think of the poor people who had to lay them!

Reference:

Georgelines: http://www.georgelines.co.uk/pdf/Trief_Kerb.pdf

Paving Expert: http://www.pavingexpert.com/edging5.htm

Paving & Kerbs Association: http://www.paving.org.uk/

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