Retaining Walls FAQ

Below are some questions that we are asked on a regular basis about Retaining Walls.

Retaining walls are a stabilising structure used to hold sloping ground in place and to prevent the erosion and movement of soil. A retaining wall must be substantial and sturdy in structure in order to accommodate and redistribute lateral pressure caused by sloping.
It is normally designed with seepage holes, which allow collected ground water to escape. This releases the additional pressure created by accumulated water and helps keep the retaining wall stable.
Several different materials can be used to construct a retaining wall. Reinforced concrete is often used and can be especially designed for this purpose.

Reinforced concrete is a composite material in which concrete’s relatively low tensile strength and ductility are counteracted by the inclusion of reinforcement having higher tensile strength and/or ductility. The reinforcement is usually, though not necessarily, steel reinforcing bars and is usually embedded passively in the concrete before it sets.
For a strong, ductile and durable construction the reinforcement needs to have the following properties at least:
• High relative strength
• High toleration of tensile strain
• Good bond to the concrete, irrespective of pH, moisture, and similar factors
• Thermal compatibility, not causing unacceptable stresses in response to changing temperatures.
• Durability in the concrete environment, irrespective of corrosion or sustained stress for example.

A concrete panel is a formed sheet of moulded concrete, usually 2 feet to 12 feet (0.61 m to 3.66 m) in width, and 8 feet to 12 feet (2.44 m to 3.66 m) in height. These measurements are common wall and roof dimensions in building design. Builders, architects, and concrete contractors use precast concrete panels in the erection of homes, offices, commercial buildings and factories. Concrete panels provide reliable, easy-to-install, durable, weather-resistant, and above all, very strong structural components. Concrete panels and reinforced concrete panels have become increasingly popular in the building construction industry as they are quick to erect and very cost effective.

Using concrete for retaining walls provides a durable solution which is both thermal and erosion resistant which is required in a structure that is in contact with soil and exposed to constant wetting and drying.

Using a “lego style” design, the interlock concrete blocks like brickwork. This allows a wall to corner at a 90° angle, increasing the strength and integrity of the wall and removing the need for blocks to be secured to the ground. The retaining wall blocks are a semi-permanent solution and can be relocated, re-designed or extended on the initial design layout if needed. These blocks are both very strong and durable and can be used for the following applications:
• Earth retaining wall blocks
• Storage bays
• Partitioning walls
• Internal/Protection of property
• Traffic calming

Reinforced soil is a composite material formed by the association of frictional soil and tension-resistant elements in the form of sheets, strips, nets or mats of metal, synthetic fabrics, or fibre reinforced plastics and arranged in the soil mass to reduce or suppress the tensile strain that might develop under gravity and boundary forces.

A retaining wall is a stabilising structure used to hold sloping ground in place and prevents erosion and movement of soil. Segmental retaining walls to suit a variety of applications from small landscaping walls through to highly engineered structures in critical locations.
A reinforced concrete retaining wall is made from pressed concrete units which lock together to form a wall that is capable of acting as a retaining structure. Some walls use blocks in conjunction with geosynthetic reinforcement materials to create reinforced earth structures.
Soil directly behind a retaining wall will exert lateral pressure upon the wall. The amount of pressure will vary with the type of soil and its moisture content but that earth pressure is always there.
The taller the wall the more the earth will exert its lateral pressure so you can either increase the mass of the wall itself or incorporate reinforced concrete into the wall or use sheet piling. Another way to counteract the earth pressure is to improve the soil by modifying its characteristics and adding a tensile element. Engineers do this by using polymeric reinforcing materials and sophisticated software design packages to assist in calculating the optimum type and arrangement of reinforcement.
Retaining wall panels are available in a wide range of size, style and texture to create a retaining solution that is fast and very cost effective to build.

Prefabricated wall panels are wall panels that are constructed at a concrete manufacturing plant and moved to a job site for erection.

Functional retaining walls are built for structural purposes and are used to support a path or driveway; to allow different levels in the garden; or to maintain a slope around a tree or other landscape feature.
Decorative retaining walls are not structural and can also be used as seats, as a base for a fence or to highlight certain garden features.

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