Updated on October 5, 2022
Types of Retaining Walls
Generally, the use of retaining walls on a property requires a building permit. Its purpose is to maintain the slope of the site and resist pressure from the earth or fluids. The wall is designed to resist a surcharge or weight or volume imposed on the retained soil, the structure footings, and adjacent vehicle loads. The surcharge varies in size and style and is based on the amount of soil and slope.
A retaining wall is a structure that holds back soil that would otherwise slide or erode. Due to the pressure behind tall walls, retaining wall construction requires a great deal of experience and knowledge. Improperly constructed walls can damage buried utility lines and runoff outlets. Fortunately, there are many different types of retaining walls available for any home improvement or landscaping project.
The first step in building a retaining wall is to remove the soil on either side of the slope. Use string or stakes to mark the top of the wall. Remove the flange of the retaining wall block, as this will make it rest more evenly on the ground. Once the base is in place, lay the blocks in the desired order. If the wall is not level, use a carpenter’s level to check its placement.
Another type of retaining wall is the sheet pile retaining wall. These are typically used in soft soils and areas where space is limited. They are usually made from a combination of materials and maybe a few feet higher than the surrounding ground. If your wall is too tall, a tie-back anchor is used to secure the top of the structure to ensure stability. Similarly, a tie-back anchor is used to anchor the sheet pile wall when it is taller than six meters.
There are many types of retaining walls for residential properties. Choose a material that suits your budget and design preferences. Wood is an affordable option, but decomposition can quickly destroy it and reduce the usability of the space. Stone, on the other hand, can be an attractive option, but it can be expensive to install and maintain. The type of stone you choose will depend on where you live, and the slope of your property.
The cheapest retaining wall materials are wood or masonry retaining wall blocks. A do-it-yourself project can cost about $1,000 to $1200 per 100 square feet, and a professional installation can cost up to $4600. Wooden walls may last up to 20 years if they are properly constructed. Poured concrete is a good choice for homeowners who want durability, strength, and affordability. It is also an excellent option for those who want a modern aesthetic.
Retaining walls are necessary for preventing soil erosion, and maintaining the height of the ground surface. The use of retaining walls reduces the amount of earth pressure on the structure, and it is a viable option when ground conditions do not permit concrete construction. Soil-nailing walls are often used as a replacement for reinforced concrete or other types of walls, and can even be seen as an attractive feature.
When building a retaining wall, it is vital to understand the role of soil in supporting the wall’s weight. The footings of the wall must be below the required frost depth. Building footings below this depth mitigates the risk of frost heave when water in the soil freezes and expands and causes the wall to shift. It is therefore important to ensure that the soil is tested for bearing capacity before building a retaining wall.
When used properly, retaining walls can help prevent downhill erosion. They hold back soil to prevent a property from crumbling under certain conditions. A retaining wall can prevent downhill erosion altogether. It can also be useful in earthquake-prone areas, where landslides are away from the fault line. Retaining walls are an essential part of earthquake preparation. However, they may be necessary for every property.
The height of retaining walls can vary widely. A small-sized wall that is only three feet tall can be constructed by someone with basic construction skills. A large-scale wall, however, requires more sturdy materials and may require the services of a structural engineer. The height of the retaining wall also affects its cost. The higher the height, the higher the price. Besides the cost, retaining walls that are higher than the maximum height required for building permits must be designed and built by a professional.