Retaining walls have the benefit of being made of wood, or concrete, and possibly other materials. Although both have a place in certain retaining walls scenarios, it is always best to see the pros and cons side by side, to help you make the best choice for you.
In this blog, we will show you the pros and cons of concrete retaining walls
Monthly construction output had risen an estimated by an 1.6% value in June 2023, and we would like to think our accessible concrete products had a small part to play by giving our clients easy access to reliable and easy-to-use construction solutions.
What do retaining walls do?
Retaining walls serve to organise a piece of land that is sloped or on a hill. Its organisation can come in the form of digging and creating a structure that ‘retains’ the land behind it. THe size of the retaining wall can be small or large, and can serve to make way for additional features such as safe paths, stairs, seating areas and more.
Without retaining walls, it would be harder to safely traverse across some areas, especially those at risk of landslides. The hills that a retaining wall replaces is also a health hazard for anyone on it, especially in bad weather conditions. This causes a problem in public places such as parks, or even in your own back garden.
Do I need a retaining wall?
If you find yourself identifying with the following points, you may need to consider a retaining wall.
- Your garden or land you own has a hill that is dangerous or slippery.
- The hills in your land or garden makes it difficult to use the garden or organise it.
- The uneven state of your land or in your garden means you can’t plant flowers or vegetables, or build there.
- Your children or guests can’t freely use the garden due to the uneven floor.
- Rain pools into the deeper levels of your garden or land
Pros and cons of wood and concrete retaining walls
For those struggling to make a choice who benefit from seeing the pros and cons of each material side by side, We have provided a simple table. Our table can easily tell you the positives and negatives of both concrete and wood when it comes to retaining walls.
– Can create a bespoke and nature themed aesthetic, suitable for retaining walls in gardens and public places
– Provides relatively strong support if the correct base is created for it.
– Can be erected in more than one way, horizontally or vertically.
– Wood can be coated to ensure weather resistance.
– Somewhat durable.
– Generally doesn’t require heavy lifting equipment.
– Can break with a high velocity impact.
– Weather resistance must be amplified.
– Can break under the weight of the retaining wall if its base isn’t secure.
– Susceptible to fire.
– If untreated, the wood could rot or grow mould/fungus or moss.
– Severe weather conditions may damage the wood.
– The retaining wall may bulge or become slanted over time.
– Can be replaced fairly quickly if the wall hasn’t spilled.
– Generally cheap and easy to obtain
– Provides the strongest support, due to its heavyweight nature, it is much harder to move, even with the weight of a retaining wall on it. Especially when interlocked.
– Can withstand a high velocity impact.
– It does not require further weatherproofing to extend its usage duration.
– Can be used in any environment.
– Can be decorated or painted over if wanted.
– You can not move it without the use of heavy lifting equipment.
– Pieces can chip off when they are damaged heavily.
– May not match the aesthetic of the place it is being placed in.
– Can be harder to replace quickly.
– Takes longer to obtain.
What kind of concrete is best for retaining walls?
Our Interlocking Concrete Blocks can be used in the construction of retaining walls. They are a reliable and durable form of pre-cast concrete blocks. Featuring a unique interlocking feature, this provides not only a heavyweight reinforced structure, but also the ability to be used as a wall without binding elements such as cement.
This makes it a perfect, relatively quick and simple to install alternative to traditional brick or wooden retaining walls. The durable heavyweight nature of these concrete blocks enable them to stand the test of time, and stand the collective weight of the land it is holding behind it. Once interlocked, this potential only increases.
There are many advantages of Interlocking Concrete Blocks, one of which being their multiple methods of application, they can be used for a variety of projects.
What else can Interlocking concrete blocks be used for?
Here is a list of some of the uses that Interlocking Concrete Blocks can facilitate.
- 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
What are 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, saving you money and time
- 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
- 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
Is it worth using wood for a retaining wall?
If you know what you’re doing, it can be worth using wood for the construction of your retaining wall. Especially if you want a much more bespoke design, although this comes with compromising against the structural integrity, durability, and longevity that is provided by a concrete retaining wall.
Concrete retaining walls can feature bespoke designs too, but would require a specialist which will definitely end up costing more.
Can water affect a wooden retaining wall?
If the wood waterproofed, and the drainage system of the retaining wall is not properly constructed, water will affect a wooden retaining wall in the one, many of the following ways.
- The wood can rot over time
- The wood can break
- The wall can become slanted due to the weakening of the wood, and the pull of gravity on the retained soil behind the wall.
- It has the potential to house mould or fungus.
Additionally, fire can destroy your wooden retaining wall, and has a limited durability, when put up against a concrete retaining wall, which doesn’t suffer from any of those issues. Consequently, concrete is the superior material for a retaining wall.
Where to buy a concrete retaining wall
In this blog, we hope to have clearly displayed the pros and cons of wood and concrete retaining walls, whilst also providing additional information including construction solutions that we offer.
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.
The Old Gasworks,
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Tel: 01706 655245