Is it better to use bricks or concrete blocks for a retaining wall?

Do Interlocking Concrete Block Retaining Walls Last?

Knowing what to use and what resource to opt for when building a retaining wall can be as simple as knowing what material lasts the longest. In this blog, we at PPC Concrete Products will be answering the question, ‘do interlocking concrete block retaining walls last?’

Retaining walls are vital in order to organise land in order for development or to make it safer in a populated area, knowing how to build a retaining wall can be key for those who have the resources, or for those seeking to make alterations to their own land.

With the necessity of time and cost-efficient building solutions being needed, as construction output in Great Britain has seen an increase, alternatives to traditional brick-and-mortar builds are required for those looking to save time and money. Interlocking concrete blocks present an alternative to some construction, including retaining walls.

Retaining walls explained

A retaining wall is a structure designed to restrain or land to a slope it would not naturally keep to. A retaining wall could be built in order to organise land in public places or around your own home. A retaining wall can also help to level any land that is on a slant or hill.

In terms of what can be used for a retaining wall, there are many options including gabion baskets, wood and metal, though it can be argued that the easiest and cost effective method would be interlocking concrete blocks.

The function of the retaining wall is in the name, it retains its content within a wall, and retaining walls are often used to alter the level of the land it is erected on, which usually means the land goes from being uneven, to even.

Want to know more? Click here for an in-depth look at retaining walls.

Can a retaining wall be leaning?

Unless this is the intended choice, then no. As a retaining wall is holding the weight of the land behind it, any leaning could signify the wall isn’t strong enough to support the weight. Eventually, a retaining wall that is leaning will topple over due to gravity.

What makes a retaining wall lean?

When a retaining wall starts to lean it can be due to a number of things including

  • Insufficient drainage, this causes additional weight to be added to the wall.
  • The wall’s material has become weak due to degradation over time.
  • External damage/purposely manipulating the wall.
  • Weak foundations or structure
  • Using sub-quality materials when constructing the wall
  • Natural changes in the environment that can happen over time.

We advise that as soon as you notice your retaining wall leaning, contact your construction professional to rectify this immediately, delaying this can lead to the wall falling, possibly causing injury and costing you more money to rectify.

Interlocking concrete blocks can be the most easiest and effective method when it comes to setting up a retaining wall, let us tell you some more about them.

Do interlocking concrete block retaining walls last?

Undoubtedly, interlocking concrete block retaining walls will last long. Here’s why:

  • The weather-resistant properties of concrete mean that heat and cold will not affect the strength or structure of the concrete, it also does not absorb water to the same degree as wood. This means that barring a natural disaster, weather will not impact the effectiveness of the interlocking concrete block retaining wall.
  • Concrete has a higher tolerance for impact, meaning that it takes a lot of excess force that can only be provided by heavy machinery, a crash, or a natural disaster, that would damage or break the concrete retaining wall.
  • Interlocking concrete blocks don’t degrade at the same rate as wood or metal, wood can rot and become weaker due to water, whereas metal can degrade as a result of rust. Concrete can easily last 25 years at minimum, although this is dependent on its location and how it was constructed. Even then, its degradation is not extreme in the slightest.

What stops interlocking concrete block retaining walls from lasting?

Although interlocking concrete blocks are generally long-lasting even if you use them in a retaining wall, there are some factors that could shorten that time.

  • Repeated external force over time (hitting it with machinery or tools, cars etc)
  • If used in a retaining wall that is incorrectly set up, it can topple over due to the weight behind it.
  • Improper drainage makes the retaining wall less effective and can affect its stability over time.
  • Using a subpar provider of interlocking concrete blocks.
  • Tampering with the earth around the blocks

A basic explanation of interlocking concrete blocks

A basic explanation of interlocking concrete blocks

As building regulations came into being in England, the requirement of having fireproof dwellings was compulsory, this was achieved by subsequent houses being made of stone and brick. Interlocking concrete blocks present a modern alternative.

Interlocking concrete blocks are a unique form of pre-cast concrete blocks that are designed to hold together by using pre-measured studs and recesses. Built with unique profiles and features, which allow them to fit perfectly into each other without the use of any mortar. Instead, the cementitious blocks simply snap together with each other.

Depending on the size of the block that is chosen will affect the number of studs that are on the block. In regards to the sizing, interlocking concrete blocks don’t need mortar to be held in place. This means the speed of building is improved, whilst using less manpower.

The advantages of interlocking concrete blocks

  • Longer lasting and more durable than a Gabion basket
  • Quicker and less hassle to install
  • No need for mortar
  • No need for steel reinforcement or shuttering
  • Resistant to extreme weather conditions
  • Fire-resistant properties, mitigating the spread of fire depending on the structure
  • Little maintenance required
  • Often, no foundation is needed before installing
  • Sound resistant
  • Sustainable
  • Ability to stack them upon each other
  • Flexibility in sizes
  • Appropriate for temporary and/or permanent buildings
  • Unlikely to be displaced due to the interlocking function
  • Can be moved with standard lifting equipment

What are interlocking concrete blocks used for?

As we supply interlocking concrete blocks, we can share with you what they are used for.

  • Material Storage bays
  • Blast walls
  • Salt stores
  • Crash protection
  • Push walls
  • Security barriers
  • Segregation bays i.e recycling centres
  • Retaining walls
  • Industrial buildings
  • Fire breaks
  • Counterweights
  • Roadblocks

And much more.

Can I use a gabion basket for a retaining wall?

Yes, it is possible to use a gabion basket for your retaining wall, they are an effective and aesthetic option to use.

That being said, you may find some issues with gabion baskets over time, the wiring that creates the basket is made from metal, so has every chance to rust and degrade as time passes. As a result, the gabion basket may come undone.

Gabion baskets also utilise stones as their weight within the basket itself, this means that sourcing these specific-sized rocks for your basket may result in an extra cost to acquire and place said rocks.

Contact PPC Concrete Products today

Contact PPC Concrete Products today

As an established supplier all over the UK, PPC Concrete Products is always happy to help, which is why we encourage you to get in touch with any questions you may have or take a look at our FAQ.

In this article, we hope to have answered the question ‘Do interlocking concrete block retaining walls last?’ Whilst also providing extra information in regard to construction and the benefits of interlocking concrete blocks.

Take a read of our case studies to truly understand how we have provided solutions for business in the past with the use of our interlocking concrete blocks, and ultimately, how we can help you today.

Read our blog page for more insights into our passion, construction.


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