Types Of Retaining Walls And Retaining Wall Materials

Types Of Retaining Walls And Retaining Wall Materials
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    In this short blog, we’ll briefly but in detail lay out the types of retaining walls and retaining wall materials. A retaining wall is structurally built to hold back soil or rock from a slope that would otherwise collapse into itself. It is common for the earth to be displaced due to changes in temperature or erosion. When this happens, a retaining wall can keep the unnaturally steep incline from tumbling down. Retaining walls are vital for both protecting property and preventing injury.

    Types of Retaining Walls

    There are many different types of retaining walls with various purposes depending on the needs of the project. The size of the wall, desired appearance, and purpose all play a role in which type of retaining wall to choose. Here are some common types of retaining walls:

    • Gravity walls rely on their own weight to hold back the earth. These are typically made out of concrete, stone, or brick and have a triangular cross-section.

    • Cantilevered walls use horizontal beams embedded in the soil to hold back the earth behind it. The beams transfer the weight to footings below the ground level.
    • Anchored walls also use horizontal beams however they are further secured with cables or rods that are drilled deep into the ground and anchored into the bedrock below. This type of wall is most common with taller walls that need extra support against lateral forces like winds or earthquakes.
    • Sheet pile walls are used when excavation must be done below ground level without disturbing the soil above it. These walls are made out of interlocking sheets of wood, metal, or vinyl that are driven into the ground forming a barrier between excavated areas and the rest of the slope.
    • Piling walls drive long posts vertically into the ground until they reach bedrock then building horizontally on top of those posts until reaching desired height. The posts work together to transfer weight to deeper soil layers or bedrock below creating stability. This type of wall is used mostly in coastal areas where high winds and storm surge could cause damage.

    Retaining Wall Materials

    Another factor to consider when choosing a retaining wall is what material will work best-given project specifics such as budget, aesthetic desires, load-bearing needs, etcetera. Here are some popular materials used to construct retaining walls:

    • Wood timbers can offer a more rustic look and can sometimes be sourced at no cost if you know where to look; however, they require more maintenance over time and may not last as long as other options. Wood is not recommended for taller structures because it is not as strong as other materials when compared pound for pound.
    • Masonry blocks made out of concrete, stone, or brick offer durability and come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors allowing for greater customization options; however, this method tends to be more expensive than others.
    • Interlocking sheaves made out of wood or steel provide stability but limit design options; treated lumber will resist rot and insect damage but should still be sealed for longevity if using wood products..
    • Pre-cast concrete barriers come in many different styles at various price points; stone veneer can provide a more natural appearance if that’s what you’re going for..
    • Gabion baskets filled with rocks offer durability but may not blend well aesthetically with other elements on your property.. 
    • RailRoad ties offer a rustic charm but may release harmful chemicals over time so it’s important to do your research first.. Consider all these factors when choosing which type of retaining wall material will work best for your specific needs..


    There are many things to consider when choosing which type of retaining wall is best for your home improvement project such as purpose, budget, load-bearing needs, desired appearance, etcetera.. Work with a professional contractor to determine which option will work best for you given the specific set of circumstances for your project.. Retaining walls offer beauty and function. If you ever need help with a retaining wall project at your home, contact Hyper Construction.


    -Hyper Construction Inc. Team-

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    4 thoughts on “Types Of Retaining Walls And Retaining Wall Materials”

    1. Raleigh Excavating

      I have a question: Can you tell me which material is best for a retaining wall? Just curious about your opinion.

      1. We typically recommend keystone blocks for retaining walls, as they offer a balance of strength and durability. However, the best material for a retaining wall can vary depending on the specific requirements of the project, such as the dimensions and load-bearing needs. Did you have a specific project in mind?

    2. I was thinking of adding a patio to my home soon, and I was considering including retaining walls in its construction. It caught my interest when you said that there are retaining walls made of wood timbers if we want a more rustic look for our aesthetic desires. I’ll be sure to keep this in mind while I look for a landscaping service to hire for my retaining wall installation soon.

      1. Great choice! Don’t forget to consider the type of wood you want to use (e.g. cedar, redwood, pressure-treated pine). Hiring someone experienced and knowledgeable in constructing wooden retaining walls is also essential to ensure their stability and longevity. Reach out if you have any other questions! We are here to help.

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