The first thing a building contractor or DIY enthusiast needs to do before even thinking about building a retaining wall is evaluate the area’s location, design, soil and drainage. This is an extremely crucial step to ensure all is well and good, that the wall won’t fall apart where it stands or block water from draining. It’s important to know there are several designs for residential retaining walls in Kansas City—but which type of wall is the right option for you? Here’s a list of some common wall types to help you select the best one for your property:
- Gravity retaining walls: These types of retaining walls can be built straight or curved and are typically under four feet high. However, these walls can go higher—up to 10 feet high without reinforcement—depending on product specifications. Since gravity walls use their own weight to hold the soil behind them, it’s likely yours will be made with a heavy material like concrete blocks, stone or cast-in-place concrete. They are meant to lean back toward the soil using their interlocking edges and mass to withstand pressure from the soil behind them.
- Segmental retaining walls: Both residential and commercial property owners use this wall design mostly because it can be designed to conform to any shape in the area’s useable space. If reinforced properly, segmental walls—which are designed to be used as a reinforced or non-enforced gravity wall—have no height limitations. They are made from dry stacked concrete, and the individual blocks interlock to avoid overturning and sliding. People really like this type of wall because it comes in a variety of sizes, colors and textures, while also meeting industry standards for uniformity in strength, durability and weight.
- Cantilever retaining walls: Cantilever walls are installed deep down to instill leverage. They are often made into an inverted T shape with reinforced concrete or mortared masonry, consisting of a thin stem and a base slab that’s divided into two parts: the heel and the toe. Also, a rigid concrete footing is required for cantilever retaining walls under 25 feet high. These require fewer building materials than gravity walls, and can either be poured onsite or manufactured at a precast concrete facility.
- Counterfort retaining walls: These rather tall walls (20 to 40 feet high) are similar to cantilever walls in that they require support along the backside of the structure. They use concrete webs, called counterforts, which are built at an angle to ensure strength and stability.
- Panel retaining walls: If you’re the lead on a public roadway project and looking for retaining wall options, one of the most common is the panel wall. Perfect for installing in tight spaces, panel walls are often utilized in tall applications such as highway ramps. Posts can be used to connect the panels, which are made of precast concrete reinforced with steel. The main face panels can be custom designed to fit in with the surrounding area.
Call the team at MSE Hardscape Design and Installation for more information about retaining walls in Kansas City!