Retaining Walls have been traditionally made out of blocks of stone. Sometimes blocks of timber are also used. In structures of the modern world, the retaining wall blocks are made out of concrete; these blocks could be solid or hollow, light or heavy. The purpose remains the same: to prevent soil erosion and to maintain the contours of the land.
Retaining Walls may be made out of pre-cast concrete blocks designed specifically for the job. Modern concrete block is inexpensive and very durable, offering great strength and making it suitable for most applications. Addition of iron oxide makes these blocks available in a variety of dyed colors and an assortment of facing finishes so that you can match it to your architectural requirements.
Where the wall is straight for some distance, block retaining walls are a good choice; they are also perfect for perpendicular walls that meet at a 90-degree corner. To make gentle concave or convex arcs, ordinary rectangular blocks may be laid in that fashion. What needs to be kept in mind before you start making the wall is adequate design and provision for drainage, footings, stability, and mechanical reinforcement of the wall itself. Walls of heights more than three feet however need careful designing and special reinforcements. Since a retaining wall is much like a dam trying to hold the pressure of the soil as well as dealing with soil settling and the destructive heaving and displacement by frost, weight is a critical factor in its design.
Retaining walls made of stone have been the traditional choice over centuries. Walls made of stone are generally stacked without using mortar and are of a height less than three feet. These are also called ‘dry wall’ or the dry stack approach. The biggest plus point of a dry wall technique is that it acts as a natural drainage system; water does not accumulate behind these walls; it simply seeps through and thedanger of damaging the wall is negligible. Such damage as does occur is easily repaired. Another advantage in building terraces of this sort is that a “footing” is not sunk beneath the frost line, as a concrete or stone and mortar wall requires.
The stones to be used for this type of wall should be flat on two sides, the top and bottom; and the heavier the stone, the better it is for a retaining wall. The courses or layers of such a retaining wall are horizontal lines and assembling this is very like fitting the pieces of a puzzle together; choosing stones of similar height will create a uniform look. When stones of similar size are not readily available, the result is a random look achieved by interspersing filler stones in gaps made by stones of different heights.
Keystone Retaining Wall Systems, Inc. is a leader in the segmental retaining wall industry known for providing cutting-edge retaining wall design, performance and aesthetics.
Oldcastle, Inc. is also one of the world’s leading building products and materials companies. Using precast blocks for retaining walls, they are known for their efforts to minimize waste, increase recycling, improve energy management and use eco-friendly retaining wall materials.
Walls that go beyond three feet often use large-sized blocks made from wet-cast air-entrained concrete. For example, if a block measuring 48x16 inches is used, it will cover 5.33 square feet of retaining wall space when installed. Its weight (1400-2500 pounds), combined with a unique locking system, facilitates the making of walls as high as 10 feet 8 inches without use of a geogrid or mortar or placement pins.
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