What Are Retaining Walls Used For?

If your property has uneven terrain,  you’ve probably considered a retaining wall.

Retaining walls serve many purposes for both residential and commercial applications.

But essentially, a retaining wall is built to hold back soil and ensure it remains in place.

However, retaining walls can be built to increase the usable space, as a feature or visual interest to enhance the overall look of your property, for added privacy, or simply to reduce erosion over time.

What Are The Different Types of Retaining Walls?

In masonry, there are 3 types of retaining walls.

Gravity retaining wall

A gravity retaining walls use the mass of the blocks to retain the earth and to prevent sliding, sheer, and overturning.

Inclined retaining wall

Inclined retaining walls act much the same as gravity retaining walls, except for the fact that the incline actually improves its performance and a little less mass can be used.

Reinforced block retaining wall

This is often considered to be the best performing retaining wall that also requires fewer materials to construct it. Reinforced block retaining walls use the cantilever of the foundation raft that is connected to the wall.

What’s the best material for retaining walls?

When it comes to residential retaining walls, there are a variety of materials to choose from. Depending on the purpose of your wall, the materials will change. Your options include:

Characteristics to Consider

The whole idea of a retaining wall can be confusing to some, and most homeowners simply want them to be as beautiful as they are functional.

However, without some professional advice, it can be difficult to decide what type of materials to choose from. Someone trying to even out the property will have vastly different needs than someone interested in building a flower bed.

For starters, the size and height of the wall must be considered. Smaller retaining walls can be completed as a DIY project over the weekend, but doing excavation work will require a professional contractor.

Retaining walls also need proper drainage. Poor workmanship and incorrect materials choice almost always leads to moisture-related problems. This may require different types of soil fill and even an engineered drainage system, so a local expert’s input may be required.

Different materials also provide different aesthetics while different finishes will provide different effects. Some homeowners will opt for simulated stone veneer, while stucco or simple and natural color variations remain popular choices.

How Much Do Retaining Walls Cost To Construct?

To get an accurate estimate of how much your retaining wall is going to cost, some of your details will be required. Naturally, the size of the job is going to be the biggest determining factor in the overall cost.

Nationally, the average cost to install to build a retaining wall comes in anywhere between $1,250-$13,500.

Don’t be put off by the high-end cost, however, as the average homeowner reports cost to build a retaining wall is around $5,456, with many projects coming in between $3,195-$8,475.

If you are interested in a DIY project, expect to spend anywhere between $3-$40 per sq ft.

For wall block, expect to budget $10-$15 per sq. ft. while poured concrete is roughly $20-$25. If it’s wood you’re interested in, expect to budget $15-$25 per sq. ft.

Labor Costs

Labor costs for building a retaining wall will differ from region to region and we highly recommend getting in touch with a local contractor in your area to discuss your options and compare rates. Labor to construct a retaining wall should be anywhere between $15-$90 per hour.

Material Avg. Cost Per Hour
Brick $60 – $90
Concrete Blocks $60 – $75
Dry Stacked Stone $60 – $80
Poured Concrete $60 – $80
Stone $60-$75
Stone Veneer $30 – $75
Wood $15 – $75

Other Factors To Consider

It’s reasonable to expect that some miscellaneous costs will affect the overall cost to construct your retaining wall. This could include additional tools, extra preparation that may be required, as well as additional cleanup costs. However, this should ad more than $1-$1,25 per sq. ft. 

Request a Free Estimate

If you are interested in constructing a retaining wall on your property, why not get in touch with local professionals to discuss your options. Comparing estimates is not a chance to compare costs and find the best one, but also an opportunity to vet contractors and find the one most suited to your project.