Types of Retaining Walls
AFTEC specializes in the building of precast retaining walls with architectural designs on the visible side of the wall. AFTEC’s precast industrial retaining walls are usually used to retain small to medium heights (up to 12 ft.) of earth from one level to another. We can also incorporate a precast fence wall on top where needed.
Gravity concrete retaining walls are constructed using large boulders or masses of precast concrete. These walls use the concrete wall weight to resist pressure from the opposing side. Short gravity concrete retaining walls use dry-stacked stone retainers with a batter, which enables the wall to lean back toward the retained element.For larger needs, precast concrete, geosynthetics, gabions, crib walls or soil-nailed walls can be used for retaining. These walls are built taller and stronger by including reinforcement and rigid-footing applications. Fortification is often used internally and includes timber, soil, steel or polymer mesh reinforcement.
When block is used, such as building brick or block concrete walls, the structure is considered a masonry concrete retaining wall. Masonry retaining walls mean that masonry units (CMU block walls) are utilized to construct the wall. A masonry unit is generally a compressed earth block that is formed to be a specific size and weight. Using such units, a masonry wall can have equal resistance at all points on the structure.
Brick masonry concrete retaining walls use standard 8” x 4” x 2.25” size kiln-fired bricks and mortar. The main drawback from brick masonry walls is that brick has a short lifespan and absorbs large amounts of water.
Block masonry retaining walls are also built to a specified size and weight. Due to their congruence in nature and their large concrete block size, concrete block walls can be built faster than brick retaining walls. They are also often reinforced with steel to improve the lifespan of the retaining wall.
While generally the last option for concrete retaining walls, sheet piled walls are most effective for soft soils and extremely tight areas. Manufactured from steel, vinyl, fiberglass, plastic planks or wooden planks, sheet piled walls must be pounded at least two-thirds the height of the wall into the ground. Tall sheet piled walls need a tie-back anchor “dead-man” in the soil.
Cantilevered concrete retaining walls are made from steel-reinforced precast concrete or wet masonry. Using structural footing, these walls convert horizontal pressures from behind the wall to vertical pressures on the ground below.
Cantilever walls may be buttressed to improve their strength against pressure. These short wing walls are added at right angles to the main concrete retaining wall. Such walls need rigid concrete footing constructed beneath seasonal frost depth. Cantilevered retaining walls require much less material than gravity walls.
Regardless of the method used, the most important aspect of retaining walls is proper design and installation. The AFTEC Precast Concrete Retaining Wall ensures that pressure can be held behind its steel-reinforced three to eight-foot walls.