Building a retaining wall is a careful process, with a lot of considerations in store. It will, after all, be a protective barrier against erosion (and the consequences it can bring). But it also serves other purposes, such as a landscaping element or carving usable terrain out of previously-unusable terrains, such as steep or sloping ground. But one of the foremost aspects you should think about in terms of your retaining wall is what type it should be. There are different kinds indeed, from gravity retaining walls to sheet pile walls and more, and your choice will depend on various factors. If you are unsure about what choice to make with the retaining wall you should have, here’s your in-depth guide to the different types of retaining walls available.
- A gravity wall
A gravity wall will rely on its mass to retain the soil (or other material) behind it and be as stable as possible. You can utilise brick masonry, concrete, or stone for this, and for it to remain stable, the friction and mass of the materials need to be greater than the retained material’s force. A gravity wall (like king post wall panels) could be ideal for heights of around two-three metres. To resist more tremendous pressure, you could have your gravity wall built with a battered design – where one wall faces slopes, so it is thicker at the base. You can opt to batter either the back or front of the wall. Ideally, the base of the wall should be half to ¾ of the height of the wall.
- A reinforced wall
You can increase and enhance the stability of masonry or reinforced concrete walls using a reinforcement bar system as well. For instance, you can connect cantilever walls (made from precast concrete, concrete cast-in-place, or concrete reinforced with steel) to a foundation shaped like an L or inverted T. This allows you to convert the horizontal pressure behind the retaining wall into a vertical pressure underground.
You can also use buttresses that you can place at specific distances along the retaining wall to serve as a ‘path’, creating more structure between the wall’s base (horizontal) and the wall itself (vertical). But this is often used for walls that have heights of more than 8 to 12 metres.
- A sheet pile wall
You can construct a sheet pile wall from vinyl panelling or timber or interlocking steel, and your workers can drive them into the ground to the necessary depth and then fix it into place using soil at the wall’s base. Note that sheet piling is usually ideal for soft earth and restricted space. The rule of thumb for such a wall is that one-third of the piling is placed above-ground whilst two-thirds is placed below-ground. In addition, the piles have to resist the force of the material it retains and should not bend. You can opt for concrete walls to create either temporary or permanent walls as well, and you can place piles next to each other as adjacent walls or as interlocking walls that can also be either soft and hard, firm and hard, or hard and hard walls.