What is a Retaining Wall?

Multi level retaining wall with plants in backyard

Frequently, during a project, an engineer will recommend building a retaining wall. What is a retaining wall? Why might you need one? How are they built? These are all questions we will answer in this blog post.

Retaining Wall 101

A retaining wall is a wall that holds back something – it retains something. That “something” is often soil, but sometimes water is part of the equation too.

These retaining walls are designed and built to be tough. The weight of the soil and water can be a lot. The best option for a retaining wall is precast concrete, which we will cover more later.

You need a builder and an engineer who really knows what they are doing. If a retaining wall is designed or built wrong, this can spell disaster for your property. There is a lot of real-world experience and know-how that goes into designing a retaining wall.

Uses For a Retaining Wall

The top reason you might install a retaining wall is to control irritation. If you have a really steep slope on your property, you are likely looking at an erosion problem. Rain or an earthquake could send that slope tumbling down. In many cases, like if the slope is too steep, measures like planting plants aren’t a viable option.

A retaining wall serves as a physical barrier to hold back the soil and/or water. It also helps to reduce the slopes to a more manageable degree. The step created by the retaining wall gives potential slides somewhere to land and stop.

Retaining walls can also be used to change the landscape. If you have a steep slope in your backyard but you want to create garden beds or a nice terrace, a retaining wall is perfect for creating those areas.

Materials to Use When Building a Retaining Wall

The methods for building a retaining wall will look like the construction of a regular wall. The engineer will be more involved in this case. The retaining wall will often have a footing designed into the ground that helps keep the retaining wall standing. The engineer will design this footing based on the soil types, the volume of soil that needs to be retained, and other factors. 

Wood and vinyl aren’t viable materials for a retaining wall. You need something substantial. The most common options are a stone wall, concrete blocks, and a precast concrete retaining wall. 

Concrete blocks are an economical option but don’t look pretty or natural. They have a bland, somewhat sterile look.

Stone is much more natural and beautiful, but the cost of sourcing the stone and constructing the wall can be too much for many owners. Stone needs to be installed stone by stone by a highly-skilled mason.

Precast concrete is the best of both worlds. Precast concrete can be made to mimic any look you want – from stone-like to sleek and modern. We can even add pigment or aggregate to add interest.

Precast concrete costs a fraction of what it costs to install a stone retaining wall. Installation is fast and easy. The wall comes in large sections that are fitted onto the support posts. This, and the way precast concrete is constructed, drive the cost down for the client.

American Precast Concrete Inc.

At American Precast Concrete Inc. we offer the top precast concrete retaining walls for your home or business. Contact us today to learn more about our premier products and how we can help you reach your vision. We look forward to working with you!

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