If you’re thinking about building a retaining wall on your property, you might be a little overwhelmed by all your options. The whole idea can be confusing, making it difficult to decide what type of materials you should use in your case. To help steer you in the right direction, here are some things you’ll want to think about when it comes to retaining wall materials.
If your retaining wall is mainly for creating a flower bed, you’ll have vastly different needs from someone who’s doing an excavation or trying to level out their yard. Castle wall-type blocks that interlock are popular choices for these types of walls. They’re actually made of concrete, and provide enough weight and stability for this case. Wood, stones, bricks, or even railroad ties can also be used for these smaller walls. All of these can be relatively simple to install yourself up to a few feet tall. However, be sure to do your homework and get some guidance from someone with experience. You certainly don’t want your hard work to go to waste with a collapsing wall.
For a large retaining wall, you’ll likely require some engineering help. Large boulders, concrete or stone block, formed concrete, or natural or simulated stone may be used, depending on your situation and structural needs.
Retaining walls need proper drainage and materials in order to avoid moisture-related failures or rot. For example, a retaining wall made of wood will require treated lumber to reduce water damage and increase longevity. Stone, brick, or concrete holds up better to water, but still need proper drainage to protect structural integrity. This may demand different types of soil fill, gravel-lined beds, or even an engineered drainage system. If your specific location could complicate any moisture issues, be sure to talk to an expert before trying to build a retaining wall yourself. Any wall is going to need effective drainage.
Consider how you want your finished wall to look. Sure, you could have it made from concrete (cinder) block, but think about how much you’ll be looking at the wall. Will it be in plain sight? Could you turn it into a stunning architectural feature as well as a functional wall?
Different materials provide different aesthetic effects. Some people choose to use concrete as a structural material, and have their walls faced with real or simulated stone veneer. Some people coat their walls in stucco, or have concrete walls stained and stamped for a more pleasing look. Boulders can be used even for larger walls, and a lot of people like the natural color variations.
When planning your retaining wall, think about its size and function, as well as the potential for visual appeal. But above all, consider its purpose as a structure and do everything you can to ensure safety. With the proper materials, construction, and drainage, your wall can do the job for many years. For best results, get some expert help from an experienced professional.