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Making a retaining wall- Basics

Retaining walls can really improve the appearance of any homeowner’s property. In this article, we will discuss a variety of retaining wall options from wood to stone, a well-built feature that can last decades and improve drainage while increasing usable flat areas. Check http://www.thehyperhouse.com/2012/04/making-a-retaining-wall.

Beginning with the basics, retaining walls are walls constructed from wood, concrete or stone to prevent soil, debris or other matter from entering or passing through a specified area. One popular wall is wood-based and can be a perfect choice for smaller needs. A retaining wall made of wood works well when a wall less than three feet in height is required. When considering using wood to build a retaining wall, note that wood such as treated lumber is the least stable of the three construction materials, concrete and stone. Concrete walls are durable, constructed for strength and work best for accent walls in the yard and garden. Concrete walls can be built up to about 30 in. high making it one of the most durable retaining wall materials. Stone walls are built with cut stone sans mortar or other adhesives to sustain the wall. Stone, having the most advantages over the other retaining wall materials is limitless in height (although eight feet tall is recommended) and if it is properly built guarantees to last forever.

There are four types of retaining walls; gravity, cantilevered, sheet piling and anchored walls. Gravity walls are contingent on the weight of the walls construction material(s) (that of wood, concrete, stone or other material) to resist the weight from behind and improve its stability against the earth’s forces. In terms of height, gravity walls are usually no taller than four feet and made of masonry concrete or stone. Cantilevered walls are made from masonry or reinforced concrete but require more design and careful construction. Sheet pile walls uses materials of wood, vinyl or steel that are retaining walls are usually used in soft soils and tight spaces. Sheet pile retaining walls made of vinyl, steel or wood planks are better used in areas that have soft soiled grounds and/or tight spaces. Anchored walls can be used in gravity, cantilevered or sheet piling walls with the addition of cables or other objects that can be anchored into rock or soil.

Some additional retaining techniques one can use for retaining walls are soil nailing, soil strength, gabion mesh and mechanical stabilization. Soil nailing can be used in gravity, cantilevered or sheet piling walls to provide reinforcement by slender elements like that of steel reinforcing bars. Soil strength (although sometimes used as a facing element) is used to reduce the pressure that the elements of the earth use against the wall itself. Gabion Mesh (a form of soil strength) is a wire mesh box that diminishes some of the earth’s erosive forces. Mechanical Stabilization (MSE) is a form of soil with artificial strengthening from mats (that are horizontal in nature) that extend resistance beyond what gravity wall structures can provide.