Retaining Walls – What They Are And How To Strengthen Them

Retaining Walls – What They Are And How To Strengthen Them

Retaining Walls Melbourne

Since time immemorial people have used retaining walls Melbourne for many purposes, including reinforcing hillside farms and homes. Today these walls are used in road construction, landscaping, and in building construction. Thanks to the technology behind them, we can now erect structures almost anywhere, whatever the terrain.

What is a retaining wall?

Retaining walls are special walls erected to hold back soil and flatten to a stretch of sloping land. The flattened land, usually on the sides of hills and other undulating land formations, then enable the construction of a road or building, the planting of a garden or lawn, and different landscaping plans.

Depending on the steepness of the slope you are working with, and how much soil you want to hold back, there are different materials you can use for the construction of your retaining wall. Your material choices will include boulders, bricks and blocks, poured concrete, railway sleepers or any other timber, and steel sheets.

The differences in the materials’ cost generally mark their different strengths. Stronger materials, like poured concrete and blocks, will cost more than the less durable timber. Consult a qualified contractor, who must do a site inspection, to determine what materials and type of retaining wall you will need. There are different types of retaining walls Melbourne. These are;

 1. Gravity retaining walls

Gravity retaining walls are named as such because they rely on their sheer weight to hold back mounds of earth. These walls are constructed from sturdy concrete blocks that are stacked up to an average height. To improve their strength, the walls are now mostly constructed from interlocking blocks that clip together into one mass.

Of late hollow blocks have been very popular because they are lighter and can be easily transported. The blocks can be filled with gravel once laid to boost their weight and the wall’s strength. To improve their strength even more, these walls are often made to lean back into the soil it is holding back. This is possible since most of the walls are mortarless. But because they are mortarless, the walls must not be very high.

2. Anchored retaining walls

Gravity walls will work best for shorter Retaining Walls Melbourne. For taller walls that need more support anchored retaining walls are best. These walls use a steel cable that runs from the top of the wall down to the footing. The cables help to increase the walls strength and durability.

The footing itself is usually made of poured concrete, which is heavier and can withstand pressure. Anchored walls will require experienced builders as their construction requires careful measurements, otherwise the cable reinforcement may not serve its purpose.

3. Cantilever retaining walls

For retaining walls that have to hold back especially heavy loads of earth it may be wise to opt for a cantilever retaining wall. These walls must be engineered with measurements taken to determine the pressure the wall must hold back.This type of retaining wall is made from steel reinforced brick wall or cast-in-place concrete. They walls are buttressed by an L or T shaped foundation that is sunk deep into the ground for superior strength.

4. Sheet pile retaining walls

These will be the least strongest retaining walls. They can be built from iron sheets or wood planks that are held back by pegs that are driven into the ground. These retaining walls Melbourne  are best suited for lower raised garden walls that do not need much strength.

Retaining walls Melbourne are an indispensable construction and landscaping tool. But their construction must not be carelessly considered or assigned to unqualified builders. Quite a few of them have failed. And depending on the type of wall and what it is reinforcing, the damage from its failure could be very serious. It can mean the tumbling of houses, collapsed roads, and even loss of human life.

Causes of Retaining Wall Failures

  • Lack of a proper site evaluation

This is a common cause in most retaining wall failures. You will need to institute a proper site evaluation with an appropriately qualified person before making any decision on the type of wall or your choice of materials. The site evaluation will determine the type of soil, the gradient of the slope, and the weight the retaining wall will be bearing. This will enable the construction of a wall that will not slide or simply topple over.

  • Poor construction

Even with good site evaluation and design, retaining walls Melbourne may still fail. And the common issue with this is poor construction. From the foundation to the top of the wall, builders must ensure the wall is structurally sound, regardless of what matter materials they use. No design can or brick quality, for example, can make up for poor bricklaying.

  • Poor reinforcement

Special care must be taken for retaining walls Melbourne that use railway sleepers, iron sheets, and other materials that need poles to hold them in place. The poles must be set deep enough to provide the needed strength. If they are not set deep enough the force of the soil behind the wall simply push the over.

  • Saturated backfill

A proper site evaluation will have determined the type soil for the specific stretch of land you will be building your wall. If the soil is a loamy, clay type, then special backfill material will be needed to improve drainage. Otherwise all the excess water to add to the weight the wall has to shoulder and cause it break. When the right backfill materials are used together with correctly inserted weep pipes, your troubles with backfill saturation will be solved.

  • Aging

As your retaining walls Melbourne age it is important you start to inspect it for signs of wear and damage more frequently than before. As they age, especially in areas prone to earthquakes and other seismic forces or where the soil is very soft and usually soaked retaining walls may gradually slide, until they can no longer stand.

Signs of impending retaining wall failure include shifting soil behind the wall and cracks on the wall itself. Institute emergency repairs the moment you notice any of these signs. Pointless to point out, but the cost of timely repair is negligible when compared against the risk of total retaining wall failure.

Diploma Homes is a trusted construction and home improvement services company serving clients in Point Cook since 1976. Our projects have transformed the looks and increased the value of many properties in Melbourne. We also offer services that include building design, decking painting, retaining wall construction, landscaping design Point Cook, paving, and land excavating among others. Contact us today with your requirements.