Retaining walls can be built for both practical and aesthetic purposes. In areas that experience significant stormwater build up, a concrete retaining wall creates a sturdy slope, allowing water to drain freely. That said, retaining walls should be constructed on a firm foundation. Otherwise, they wouldn’t last very long. Here are a few tips to help you build a sturdy and lasting wall:
Determine Your Wall’s Location
Once you’ve decided where to build your wall, mark out the ground with stakes, a string line or spray paint. Proceed to dig a trench about 180mm deep and 350mm wide and remove any roots, debris or soft earth in the area. Fill the space with a road base and compact to create a 100mm levelling pad, this is to ensure that your retaining wall won’t be affected when the soil near it shifts because of water.
Prepare the Site
Place your retaining wall blocks on the trench side by side using your previous marking to ensure that they are aligned. Then, level each block front to back and side by side with a spirit level. It’s important not to rush this step, as it can affect further courses and ultimately the entire wall.
To ensure proper drainage, you can install an agricultural pipe at the rear end of the wall and surround it with granulated drainage material like blue metal and backfill the drainage layer. Avoid using clay, as the pipe needs a fall and escape to channel water away efficiently.
Lay the Courses
Thoroughly sweep the top of the first course to ensure that no stray rocks or debris can affect the level of the following course. When done, place the next layer of blocks in a running bond pattern, or with the vertical joints from the first course halfway across the second course. Pull each block forward until they lock with the nib on the unit below it. When done, layer the drainage material and backfill behind the second course. Follow the same process of stacking units and adding compact backfill and drainage material until you have finished your wall.
For a professional look and added aesthetic appeal, you may place a line of adhesive on the back and front of each block on the top course and add capping units. It’s best to use construction adhesive like liquid nails for this, to ensure lasting durability. Some capping units require the removal of nibs from the last course of blocks. If you are adding capping units, be sure to consider their height when building your wall, as your wall’s entire height cannot exceed those recommended by the manufacturer. For taller walls, you would need to secure a building permit and have a professional engineer on the job.
When building your retaining wall, it’s necessary to have the proper equipment and follow health and safety measures to ensure the best results. Find high-quality retaining wall blocks and supplies at Wholesale Sleepers Co. View our product selection online or drop by our store today.