7 Tips On Choosing The Right Retaining Wall System For Your Project
Precast concrete retaining wall systems offer various benefits, making them an excellent option for managing soil and construction projects. One of the main advantages is that they can protect against erosion and add strength to an area, making it more stable and safe.
With precast retaining walls, soil can be managed between two different elevations, allowing for properly levelled and graded surfaces. Furthermore, these systems can help control runoff, replenish nutrients in the soil, create better views or natural barriers, and allow for better use of available space. In addition to the structural support they provide, they also aesthetically enhance an area with their attractive design elements like colour blocks or terracing.
However, building a high-performance retaining wall can be a daunting task. You’ll need to consider several factors, such as location, structure type, materials, foundation, retaining wall design, budget, etc.
Not sure where to start? Here are some valuable tips that will help guide you along and make your job easier and stress-free. Let’s dive in and see what you should consider for choosing the right retaining wall system for your project.
1. Consider The Location
Before embarking on your retaining wall project, conducting a comprehensive assessment of the ground conditions is essential. Take note of the key elevations, utilities, structures, lot lines, vegetation, etc., to confirm the best solution regarding the material, type/model, and shape/size of the retaining wall.
Knowing the exact property lines and understanding other elements visible above ground or hidden underground, like stormwater and irrigation systems, are vital components in ensuring that your chosen site is structurally suitable for the job.
2. Examine The Soil
Soil engineering plays a significant role in building a durable, high-performance retaining structure. Therefore, consider examining the soil extensively to ensure it meets the strength needed to support the walls.
We recommend testing the soil type, bearing capacity, friction angle, and stress parameters to determine whether it fits the job well. Avoid organic soil. Organic topsoil tends to break down over time, affecting your wall’s lifespan and costing you money down the line.
3. Build A Solid Foundation
The foundation of your retaining wall system is a key component that ensures its lasting strength and durability. Make sure to extend at least one foot beyond the wall’s front and back base width.
Add a filler, such as gravel, before adding stones or pre-built concrete blocks to strengthen the base. Remember, the foundation sets the tone for the entire wall, so spend significant time getting this component right.
4. Plan For Proper Drainage
One of the most common yet overlooked causes of retaining wall failure is inadequate drainage. Retaining walls need proper drainage to avoid moisture-related breakage or rot. The pressure caused by water or soil moisture can significantly affect the longevity of your retaining walls leading to a disastrous project.
A precast concrete retaining wall may hold up comparatively better to water, but it still needs a proper drainage solution to protect its structural integrity. This may demand different types of soil fill, gravel-lined beds, drainage pipes, or even an engineered drainage system if it’s a large project.
5. Get The Design Right
Before starting the installation process, it’s recommended that you take time to look into several factors about the retaining wall design to ensure the construction process goes smoothly and efficiently. This includes evaluating the wall height, footprint sizes, setback angles, load-bearing capacity, and aesthetic appeal.
Also, ensure that you choose the right structure type for your project. Some of the popular types of retaining walls are:
- Cantilever: Cantilever retaining walls are constructed using precast concrete, prestressed concrete, or reinforced concrete. They have steel bars that convert horizontal pressures from behind the wall to vertical forces on the ground below.
- Reinforced: Reinforced soil walls are mechanically stabilised earth walls with precast segmental blocks that create a raised wall-like structure to restrain material and resist the pressure of the soil.
- Anchored: Anchored retaining walls use tension supports to resist soil pressure. They are often used when you need to build high retaining walls or if there are space constraints. They have a smaller footprint than other designs.
- Hybrid: Hybrid systems have walls layered upon each other to reach the required height. One significant advantage of using them is they are effective in preventing sinkholes. They also reduce maintenance and help with erosion control.
Other types of retaining walls include gabion retaining walls, sheet pile retaining walls, and wood tie retaining walls. These walls are typically made with steel, metal or wood and are not as strong or durable as precast concrete.
6. Know Your Height Limitations
A retaining wall can reach heights of over ten feet, depending on the size of your project. However, note that most cities require a permit for walls over 500mm tall. Before starting construction, we recommend checking your local building codes to avoid potential hindrances.
If you’re looking to construct a retaining wall higher than 500mm, you’d likely require engineering drawings to be certified and approved by a professional structural engineer. Don’t risk building one without knowing the consequences – as an inspection from the council might be needed before receiving retrospective building permission!
7. Material Selection & Budget
You can choose between various materials when constructing your retaining wall. Some of these include wood, steel, plastic, and precast concrete. Plastic and wood walls are relatively inexpensive options, but opting for a more sturdy and durable material like precast concrete typically pays in the long run:
- Precast concrete can withstand harsh conditions and easily handle large load capacities.
- The lifetime value of a precast concrete retaining wall is significantly higher than that of other alternatives since they hold up for decades even with lesser maintenance.
- They are more resistant to fire than other materials like wood, steel or plastic.
- You get more customisability with precast concrete, and they are relatively easy to mould and install.
With that said, each material has its pros and cons. It ultimately comes down to balancing your budget and the longevity of materials. To achieve a longer-lasting build, we recommend stretching your budget if you can.
Constructing a retaining wall can be a strenuous job. So, you want to ensure it lasts the longest time possible!
Get Retaining Walls Tailored To Your Needs
If you’re looking for quality-certified retaining wall panels for your project, look no further than DALLCON! We’re a leading precast concrete manufacturer in Western Australia and have been supplying a range of durable precast concrete retaining walls since 2000.
Our concrete solutions suit numerous applications and are specifically designed to withstand extreme conditions. Furthermore, you can choose from a myriad of standard sizes along with fully customised options to perfectly meet your unique requirements.Call us on 1300 325 526 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find the ideal precast concrete retaining wall system solution for your project.