Different Types of Retaining Walls and Their Uses

Posted on: May 10, 2019

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Retaining walls — they're arguably one of the most complex and gripping types of structures that any expert who also does masonry repair in places like Tulsa can work on. A retaining wall's impact on a property extends to both its functional and aesthetic aspects, and it's understandable to presume how this impact is so great that everything inside one's property would work or look differently altogether with it versus without.

Now, to help everyone achieve a better understanding of retaining walls, we've laid out a concise set of facts about them:

What is a Retaining Wall?

A retaining wall is any wall structure possibly made out of rocks, concrete, blocks, bricks, wood, or even steel that supports or holds off earth materials from collapsing onto the lower area outside the wall. So if you have some garden terraces supported by rocks or bricks, then you already have an example of an effective retaining wall. And in order to last, these structures must meet some certain conditions: they shouldn’t be slippery, and they should be designed and built well so that they don’t tip over due to the heaviness of the material they’re supporting.

What are the Main Types of Retaining Walls?

  • Gravity Wall

What happens if you lean two heavy materials against one another and make sure that their surfaces are rough enough to prevent sliding? Well, the result is that those two materials will end up supporting one another and prevent each other from falling or collapsing. That is the concept behind the gravity wall. This wall is designed to contain or hold off a certain amount of earth materials through sheer heaviness and roughness of its components. It’s the most common type of wall that brick contractors in places like Tulsa, OK can build for you to add to your landscaping, and it can be made using any of the aforementioned materials — coarse rocks, concrete, bricks, etc. — depending not only on the design and function you want it to serve but also on the load it will carry as well. For heavier loads and larger areas, it’s natural that the gravity wall should also be made bigger, thicker, and heavier.

  • Cantilever Wall

This is made of a single layer, usually of reinforced concrete, with an attached footing. As such, the easiest way to identify this type of retaining wall is to see if it’s shaped like an inverted “T” or a half inverted “T”. Because of such shape, the earth materials' force pushing against the wall itself is instead absorbed by its footing and sends that force downward to the ground instead of sideward. This prevents the wall from breaking. Think of how water moves if you splash it against an inverted T or an L shaped object. The natural momentum sends the water downwards. To ensure that this type of structure is effective, the thickness of both the wall and footing should be well-balanced.

  • Pile Retaining Walls

This type of wall is constructed by driving piles (heavy beams usually made of concrete) closely adjacent to one another and into the ground so deeply, with one-third of it above the ground to hold of the earth materials and two-thirds buried underground. Because of this design, the longer part of the sturdy beams become "stuck" solidly enough inside the ground that the pressure of the earth materials they support through the one-third part above ground won't be enough to break, push, or tip them over.

A variant of this structure is the sheet pile walls, wherein metal sheets are used instead of concrete piles. This type is usually meant to also hold water aside from soil, so it’s perfect for dams and river banks.

  • Anchored Walls

Lastly is the anchored retaining wall, which is a hybrid of any of the three previous types of structures by using diagonal rods inside the wall to keep the entire structure stable against the force exerted upon it. These anchors serve to prevent overturning and sliding to make up for the wall’s overall thinner makeup. As such, this type of wall is used for areas with limited construction space.

So if you want to have terraces made in your property, either for aesthetic purposes or so you can utilize the flat top area for all sorts of functions, you’d know the concept behind retaining walls and you’ll have an idea or two of what type may fit your landscape best. And if you want guaranteed success for your property, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and tell us what you have in mind. Feel free to browse through our site for our contact information that you can use to communicate with us, and for any other details about us and our services that you might want to find out more about.

We at Brick1 Masonry are the best expert brick contractors in Tulsa, OK that you can always approach for construction projects like this one. We’ll give you not only a functional retaining wall but also one that’s guaranteed to grab eyes and make heads turn.


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