Have you ever admired a retaining wall in a garden or near a highway and wondered, “Just how does that work?” Short walls slope backward but very tall walls are perfectly perpendicular to the ground. It can make a person very curious! Retaining walls are stabilizing structures built to stop erosion and the downward movement of soil on a slope. The walls are built in a way that redistributes the pressure that comes from the sloping ground. A variety of materials are used to build the walls, such as concrete, steel, stone, brick, composites, wood, and even glass.
Retaining walls on residential properties are often constructed to hold back the soil from a hillside, many times to create more usable space. Other uses for a retaining wall include stopping soil from sliding away from a foundation and how much weight can a retaining wall hold? or from damaging the landscape.
There are various kinds of retaining walls, including:
- gravity walls
- Anchored walls
- Sheet pile walls
The gravity wall is very common in landscaping and is designed for short heights. The wall works by holding back the earth behind it by sheer mass. The wall simply uses its weight to hold back the earth as the earth being held back lacks sufficient force to move the wall. Gravity walls need to be built in a roughly pyramid shape meaning that they get thicker closer to their base. The thickness formula states that the wall’s base needs to be one-half to three-fourths its height. As a result, only short walls are practical and economical to build by this method.
Anchored walls are restraining walls constructed using cables (usually extremely strong steel) that are anchored into the soil or rock behind the wall. They are used when the wall cannot be built strong enough to restrain the load. Constructing an anchored wall is an extremely complex process.
Cantilever walls are used to hold back a large amount of soil. They are made with steel-reinforced concrete that rests on a slab foundation. Cantilever walls convert horizontal pressures from the soil to vertical pressures on the ground.
Sheet piling walls, which can be made from wood, vinyl, or steel planks, are used in places where the space is tight and the soil is soft. The planks are driven into the ground.Determining what type of retaining wall construction to use will depend on the type of soil that needs to be retained, the kind of soil the wall will be built on, how much space is available for the wall, and the degree of the slope above and below the structure. The location of pipes and service lines can also be a factor in construction.
Deciding what material to use and how much weight can a retaining wall hold? will also be based on the environment, as well as budget and preferences regarding color and texture. Large retaining walls will require strong and durable materials.
Another important issue for retaining walls is drainage. Choosing the best method of drainage will increase the strength of the wall. The wrong type of drainage can result in the wall’s eventual collapse. Sometimes proper drainage can be easily accomplished by simply creating holes in the wall. However, the structure can easily become damaged if the holes get clogged.
The best way to ensure your wall is built right is to hire a professional foundation contractor who has experience constructing retaining walls on many different types of properties. A knowledgeable builder will evaluate every aspect of the project. You will get reliable advice regarding your options, which can save you considerable time and money. You will also have peace of mind knowing that your wall is sturdy and long-lasting