Retaining walls, also known as retaining ditches, are very thick concrete walls used in lieu of retaining wall blocks for retaining soil on both sides of a sidewalk or street so it can be maintained laterally. We spoke with a top concrete contractor in Houston Tx to help us with some of this information. A retaining wall is typically constructed to include a sloping top, and a parallel retaining wall running the full width of the sidewalk or street. Retaining walls provide numerous benefits such as: safety, aesthetic, and structural support. Here are some concrete repair tips you should consider when working on retaining walls:
o Safety. In the event of an earthquake, flooding, or other natural disaster, retaining walls can help retain the area in front of your home, eliminate runoff potential risks, and provide extra safety for walking and vehicle maintenance. In the unfortunate event of a collapse, retaining walls can catch runoff water, which then can run down the sides of your home. Additionally, certain types of retaining walls may have inadequate structural support or other defects that could cause an accident. Landscape architecture experts recommend including a retaining wall as part of your landscape design.
o Ease of maintenance. Since a retaining wall will usually be built to accommodate an incline, the landscape architect will design the retaining wall in a way that allows it to perform sturdily against both downhill and uphill forces. Most importantly, the contractor will build a system of tiebacks, or fascia, to anchor the soil surface underneath the retaining wall. Tiesbacks are typically made from a mix of wood and plastic. Because tiesbacks function as a pressure surface, sturdiness is enhanced by the addition of sturdier ground surface under the retaining wall.
o Gravity Wall. Most homeowners know that concrete is not the ideal material for constructing a retaining wall. Concrete slabs are heavy and difficult to load, and once loaded requires extensive digging to set concrete into position. In contrast, a gravity wall is constructed with a base of polyethylene plastic. Using gravity as a tool, a builder builds a wall on top of a soft, pliable layer of plastic. Unlike concrete, the slabs of a gravity wall do not need to be poured, and once firmly in place, requires very little additional work such as leveling.
o Timber Bearing Timber Footings. Timber bearing timber footings are installed where the retaining wall will be placed on the property. Traditionally, the footings were made using timber planks that were nailed to concrete slabs. Today, synthetic timber is preferred because it provides the same visual appeal but doesn’t sacrifice strength and sturdiness.
o Timber Surrounding Walls. Surrounding walls may consist of concrete plates or steel beams, and they perform the same structural function as the concrete walls. Traditionally, concrete was used in large structures such as dams or water towers, but advances in technology have paved the way for composite wall systems that are equally durable and long-lasting. The metal beams often referred to as surcharge loads are installed where the wall will meet the exterior slab, and they provide the foundation for the superstructure.
o Reinforced Concrete Block Walls. A concrete block wall is a wall that is constructed from steel ribs that are embedded in a concrete base, and they can add significant strength to the walls while also providing a beautiful, natural appearance. Block walls are normally square, but some companies now manufacture customized designs that are designed to meet the specifications of each project. For example, the thickness of the concrete masonry blocks may vary, and in some cases, materials other than block may be used such as wood, stone or plastic. This flexibility makes block walls a popular choice for both retrofit applications and for new structures such as decks and porches.
o Stucco. While stucco blocks are not technically structural in nature, their appearance can help to disguise many issues with a failing retaining wall. Often the application of stucco improves the overall look of the structure by blending in with surrounding landscape features, and it provides an additional barrier against erosion and other damage. Different colors are available for stucco, and the varying levels of pigmentation provide designers with an endless palette of options for their decorative applications. Because stucco is waterproof, it is an excellent choice for retaining walls made of materials that are subject to weathering such as brick, limestone or concrete.