Failures in concrete retaining walls are more common than you think. That’s why Rochester Hills Concrete doesn’t do cut-and-dry techniques. We adjust our processes because we know every site, every project is different.
In fact, we like a challenge. If you've got a unique situation, we'd love to provide you a quote, so call us today!
If your property has a hilly topography, building a retaining wall and having the area landscaped will make those areas useful for you and your family. But concrete retaining walls are not simple projects. They require structural know-how and a solid build to ensure the space is safe to be occupied even by the heaviest weights.
Concrete offers maximum strength when used for building walls. They can also come in different colors and styles to complement any landscape or home exterior. Thus, concrete retaining walls are ideal and practical.
The purpose of a retaining wall is to hold back sand, soil, and rocks that would most likely collapse in their natural state during events like hard rain or earthquakes, especially where there is a change in elevation.
Concrete retaining walls may be used for a variety of applications. Smaller ones may be needed in your garden landscaping, while bigger concrete retaining walls might be necessary to prevent erosion along a major highway. But no matter the size of the project, Rochester Hills Concrete will always provide the best possible quality.
Simple and Strong Concrete Retaining Walls Rochester Hills
When building concrete retaining walls, it’s important to understand that the materials they’re holding back (sand, soil, rocks) push back against your wall in a sideways force, and do so even more the deeper they’re situated. This is known as soil lateral pressure.
This is the reason why all the parts of concrete retaining walls must be doubly strong starting from the foundation up to the top of the wall. If we have to overkill doing a base or foundation to prevent failure, we won’t hesitate to do it.
There are different kinds of concrete retaining walls that Rochester Hills Concrete does, all of which are effective and built to last.
- Blocks retaining walls
Concrete retaining walls that are made of concrete blocks are strong and easy to use. They’re molded and precast and then towed to the site. They’re set in rows and pinned down together through their aligned pinholes. They are set in a crushed rock footing and anchored with heavy-duty mesh.
The secret to strong blocks retaining walls is to not let anything— not even a tiny rock— get in between the rows and grids. These obstructions may offset the balance of the wall, and will only be noticeable as the wall gets higher.
We prevent these from happening with careful cleaning and aligning. What you’ll end up with is a straight and structurally sound blocks retaining wall that won’t give you any problems even decades down the road.
Blocks are more expensive than poured concrete, however, especially as they are easier to build than poured concrete.
- Poured concrete retaining wall
This type of formed concrete retaining wall is a monolithic build, meaning it is one complete structure as opposed to assembled concrete blocks.
Poured concrete retaining walls need to be formed on the same day to protect the integrity of the structure. Pouring it on different days will create cold joints that are susceptible to cracks.
But the payoff is worth it. Poured concrete retaining walls are stronger if done correctly and will last for about half a century or more. It is also built faster.
The beauty with poured concrete retaining walls is their ability to be designed. Unlike blocks, formed concrete retaining walls can be colored, stamped, or embedded with embellishments.
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Much of the durability of concrete retaining walls depends on their design and not just the material. This is how Rochester Hills Concrete is different from other contractors. Not one of the concrete retaining walls we built collapsed since we built them because we consider all factors necessary.
Here are some common designs of concrete retaining walls.
Gravity concrete retaining walls are those that rely on the batter of the wall to hold it in place. This type will have some lean on the side that it pushes, drawing strength against lateral pressure from the weight of the wall itself.
The typical gravity retaining wall is L-shaped or some say an inverted T. This is known as the cantilever design and is composed of two parts: the heel and the toe.
Some concrete retaining walls will need some type of reinforcement to strengthen the structure and the soil. These are known as Geogrid concrete retaining walls because they utilize reinforcements such as geogrids, rock bolts, soil nails, and earth anchors or tie backs. These are often used for blocks retaining walls.
Anchored concrete retaining walls, in particular, are used when the space is very limited. This type of wall can be built very high if needed. The anchors are really cable rods or wires driven deeply sideways and reinforced with concrete. This helps resist lateral pressure even with loose soil on rocky terrain.
All these designs and reinforcements will affect concrete retaining wall costs. But it is still always cheaper to be sure than to have it collapse and be rebuilt. You wouldn’t want to have accidents that may cause lawsuits, property damage, injuries, or loss of life depending on the size of the structure.
Preparation is extremely important in building concrete retaining walls. When our concrete expert comes to your property to survey, he will take note of some important factors that will affect the design and build of the wall.
Some of the things we consider before building concrete retaining walls are:
- Type of soil
The type of soil on your property can be sand, clay, bedrock, tree roots, or anything in between. They may have to be cleared or reinforced as necessary.
Engineering construction guidelines recommend rules for soil preparation and backfill compaction to ensure stability. Depending on the soil, we might bring in a 150-pound plate packer to compact the soil. Bigger projects might need the thousand-pound plate packer.
Compaction is a big issue because of possible settling years down the road. A properly compacted base with soil tightly aligned together reduces the chances of that.
- Sewer and water lines
We will make sure that your sewerage, drainage, and water lines, including those of the city, will not be damaged or hampered from functioning with the construction of the wall. Rochester Hills Concrete is always careful with property lines as well as overhead or underground utilities that may need to be moved or avoided.
- Structures surrounding the area
Structures should be considered because of the temporary or permanent loads they will bear down on the construction site or the wall when it’s done. A vehicle, a swimming pool, or even the temporary construction equipment should be factored in as they will drive vertical forces on the area.
Considering topography will give us an idea of the proper height and width the wall needs. Because of the slope, it may be more practical at times to construct a multi-tiered retaining wall. This design is especially attractive in gardens and landscapes and is often called step-ups.
Coupled with a good design, a good foundation will guarantee that the wall stays in place and does its job for years and years to come.
Different kinds of foundations have all these in common: a sound, sturdy, and compacted sub-base. This foundation should extend beyond the width of the wall, sometimes with base widths as long as the height of the wall
The last thing you want is to cause a flood on your property because of the new wall. Besides, water and flooding is the top reason why concrete retaining walls fail. Rochester Hills Concrete will develop a design that will identify the source of water and moisture and properly manage that.
Drainage is as important as the foundation. This will be built under the wall to relieve hydrostatic pressure or the weight of rain and moisture on the wall.
Concrete retaining walls should look attractive as it is strong. It’s a good thing, then, that concrete is so easy to stylize.
Existing concrete retaining walls don’t have to stay gray and weathered. We can apply retaining wall stains that only take a day or two to color and seal, depending on the weather. Stamping concrete retaining walls can make plain walls look like masonry. They can also be finished smooth and painted to compliment a modern home.
Some of our clients have done DIY accents, such as camouflaging the wall with greenery to look like a green wall or a hedge.
Rochester Hills Concrete also offers repairs for existing concrete retaining walls. If your wall is showing signs of crumbling or distress, don’t ignore these warning signs. We’ll help you save on expenses and prevent injuries with timely repairs. We do segment replacements, foundation repair, and more.
Call now and talk to a concrete pro today.
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