Understanding and Following Retaining Wall Guidelines

What is the purpose of a retaining wall? A retaining wall holds soil back in a certain place. The wall may hold the soil back to clear the space in front of it for a walkway, parking lot, or garden. It could also hold the soil back so a structure can sit on top of that soil. Let’s look at the different types of retaining walls, their applications, and the best practices for installing and using them properly.

Residential Home Foundation Repair

Retaining Wall Types and Their Applications

There isn’t just one standard retaining wall design. Each wall type has different applications and advantages. These different types include:

  • Gravity Retaining Walls: This type of wall is often shorter than 4 feet tall but can go as high as 10 feet tall, and it uses its own weight to hold back the soil behind it. This wall often holds small residential gardens within its space, and it can be a stone or concrete wall.
  • Bored/Sheet Piling Retaining Wall: This wall type consists of precast concrete, vinyl, wood, or steel planks that hold soil back around temporary deep foundations in commercial marine spaces. These spaces include seawalls, pier shafts, and structural columns. A sheet piling wall’s height determines whether it’s an anchored retaining wall. The taller this wall type is, the more anchored it needs to be.
  • Segmental Walls: A segmental wall can be up to 40 feet tall and works the way a gravity wall does, but on a larger scale. It consists of modular, dry-stacked concrete blocks that interlock without mortar between them. This wall type conforms to any shape, straight or curved. Because of this versatility, It has both residential and commercial applications.
  • Cantilever Walls: This wall type is built in an inverted T shape with mortared masonry or reinforced concrete. The wall’s bottom goes beneath the surface, and the longer part, or heel, of the wall sits underneath the soil that the wall holds back. The wall’s shorter part, or toe, juts out in front of the wall to stabilize it. This wall type works best for deep excavations under 18 feet.
  • Counterfort Walls: This wall is similar to a cantilever wall because it also has a heel and a toe beneath the wall and the soil. However, this wall type also uses concrete webs called counterforts to reinforce it, and it’s usually taller than a cantilever wall at around 20 to 40 feet.
  • Panel Walls: Panel walls often consist of concrete panels reinforced with steel. Posts connect each panel to the others. These walls work best in tight commercial spaces with heavy loads, such as highway ramps.

Retaining Wall Guidelines and Best Practices

If you want the strongest retaining wall system for your project, it’s best to follow these guidelines and best practices:

  • Consider the soil you’re working with: Sandy, dry soils fit best behind retaining walls because they drain water well. Avoid building retaining walls around moist or wet soils such as clay because they won’t drain any water that they absorb. You should examine the soil in your project’s chosen spot to see what kind of heavy loads it can support. Load-bearing soil factors to consider include stress parameters, load-bearing capacity, and friction angles (how the soil resists movement).
  • Examine your retaining wall’s location: When you choose a location for your wall, you have to consider many factors. For example, will the wall run near any utility lines or stormwater management systems? Does it sit near property lines? The location of these facility components significantly affects where you put your wall.
  • Consider the land’s shape and angle: If your wall cuts into a hillside, you have to deal with excess soil when you install it. How will you store that excess soil? Will you bring in extra infill to reinforce the wall and soil once installation is complete? Consider how the land’s shape influences the retaining wall’s shape. Should it be straight or curved? Also consider whether parking lots or buildings will be on the land located above or behind the wall. These factors help shape your retaining wall installation.

Install Your Retaining Wall Today With Intech

If your construction project requires a retaining wall, reach out to Intech Anchoring Systems today. We know what retaining walls require, and we’ll help you design the right wall for your residential or commercial project.