Retaining walls have the potential to be made from different materials, but it is generally acknowledged that concrete blocks can be the easiest and quickest resource to use when erecting a retaining wall.
With that being said, what are the best blocks for a retaining wall?
At PPC Concrete Products, we are here to provide solutions for your construction needs, from the person working their own part-time project, to commercial clients, and everyone in-between.
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 is a retaining wall?
A retaining wall is used to help contain and organise land that can otherwise be a hazard or inconvenience. Retaining walls can be applied to slopes of varying degrees, sizes, and places.
The retaining wall is erected to separate the slope, resulting in two flat pieces of land above the wall, and encroaching the bottom of the wall. The benefit of this outcome is that there is space within the area that can be utilised in various ways depending on the setting.
A retaining wall in a garden could create more space for installations such as a shed, or a flower bed, or even a space to relax within the garden.
Does a retaining wall need drainage?
Yes, retaining walls require draining. This is to prevent the retaining wall from bearing too much weight, which can affect the structure of the wall, making it leak, or compromising its structural integrity.
Generally, draining within a retaining wall is found by the bottom of the retaining wall, commonly in the form of a drainage pipe, which is covered in gravel, or other landscaping fill. This fill is then covered by the topsoil of the retaining wall.
This tiered form of draining allows rainwater to nourish the soil as required, with any excess gradually filtering down to the bottom, through the pipes. Not having draining can result in puddles in your retaining wall, in addition to extra weight against the wall.
Signs your retaining wall is not effective
An ineffective retaining wall is cause for concern, as not addressing it can result in the wall collapsing, ruining the space it was in, in addition to injuring someone in its vicinity.
Here are the physical signs of an ineffective retaining wall…
- Lack of drainage results in puddles in the soil behind the wall, which can also result in an uneven surface.
- The retaining wall is leaning, or begins to lean over time.
Due to having little to no footings, the wall has moved over time
Interlocking concrete blocks explained
Interlocking Concrete Blocks are becoming a popular and effective alternative to a variety of traditional building materials. They are a form of pre-cast concrete blocks, the defining feature is the studs and recesses at the top and bottom of the blocks that allow for secure attachment without the need of any binding materials.
What 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
- Can be moved with standard lifting equipment
What are the best blocks for a retaining wall?
- Interlocking Concrete Blocks have a higher durability than wood and metal, especially outside amongst the weather in England. Its effectiveness or stability/durability is not diluted by rain, snow, or harsh winds.
- The studs and recesses of an Interlocking Concrete Block provide a secure attachment that requires either an extreme amount of velocity, or manual removal to become detached.
- Because it needs no bindings, you are saving money that would have been otherwise spent on cement, or other binding solutions.
- The immense weight of an individual Interlocking Concrete Block cannot be moved without mechanical assistance, this implies that a greater amount of interconnected Interlocking Concrete Blocks provides a larger weight. This increase in weight means that it is more than suitable to counter the weight of soil behind the retaining wall. This resistance is only improved with adequate footings.
Can I use wood or metal for a retaining wall?
Yes, either option is viable, but in comparison to Interlocking Concrete Blocks, they are inferior. Both wood and metal would require more reinforcement in the wall itself, this would happen by making sure the wall is thick, and has a suitable foundation.
Although both options can create functional retaining walls, the issue is the durability.
Metal has a greater resistance to impact than wood, but can easily rust in the rain.
And even though wood doesn’t rust, it has the potential to rot, resulting in weakness over time.
Can I use bricks for a retaining wall?
Yes, bricks can be used to erect a retaining wall, however it is a much more long-winded process as opposed to using Interlocking Concrete Blocks. Bricks are smaller and require binding, this means individually stacking the bricks, making sure to apply cement along the way.
Signs you need a retaining wall
Whether it is your garden, or a space you own/manage, here are the signs that you may need a retaining wall…
- The slope is large and has no stairs for easier access.
- The slope is a health hazard (Slipping up or down it.)
- The slope prevents the space from being effectively organised.
Can retaining walls have stairs?
Yes, although this would change the design from a traditional retaining wall, creating stairs through a retaining wall would just involve having two retaining walls, with the stairs in the middle of them. This of course is subject to the plans of the landowner. But it can definitely be achieved.
It is an effective and much safer solution for larger retaining walls that require access from where the slope originally once was.
Where to find the best blocks for a retaining wall?
In this blog, we hope to have answered the question “What are the best blocks for a retaining wall?” Whilst also providing extra information in regard to 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.
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