What Skills Do You Need to Build Retaining Walls?

retaining walls
Trying to build retaining walls? Dayd Masonry describes the skills you will need to make sure you succeed with your project.

Building a retaining wall is not as difficult as one might think, but it still requires some basic carpentry skills. Dayd Masonry is one of the many professional service providers that can help you build retaining walls, but with the right skills and tools, you can do it by yourself as well.

In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the skills you need to master before attempting to build a retaining wall.

What Is a Retaining Wall?

A retaining wall is a structure that holds back earth or water. Retaining walls are usually built to prevent soil erosion, but they can also be used for aesthetic purposes. Retaining walls can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, stone, and concrete.

Types of Retaining Walls

There are different types of retaining walls, and the type you build will depend on the purpose of the wall and the materials you have available. The most common types of retaining walls are gravity walls, cantilevered walls, sheet pile walls, and crib walls.

1. Retaining WallsGravity Retaining Walls

Gravity walls are the simplest type of retaining wall. They’re made from heavyweight materials like stone or concrete, and they rely on their own weight to hold back the earth. The gravity retaining wall ideas are usually only used for small projects because they can be difficult to build without heavy machinery.

2. Cantilevered Walls

Cantilevered walls are built by attaching beams to a concrete footing. The beams extend out from the footing, and they’re usually made from wood or steel. Cantilevered walls are stronger than gravity walls, and they can be used as retaining wall blocks for taller projects.

3. Sheet Pile Walls

Sheet pile walls are made from interlocking sheets of wood, metal, or poured concrete. The sheets are driven into the ground, and they’re used to support the soil behind the wall, which serves as wall stones. Sheet pile walls are often used in coastal areas because they can withstand the force of waves and tidal surges.

4. Crib Walls

Crib walls are made from interlocking cribs, or boxes, of wood or concrete. Crib walls are similar to sheet pile walls, but they’re not as strong to be stone walls. Crib walls are often used for temporary projects, like build retaining walls for construction sites.

Benefits of Having Reinforced Retaining Walls

Now that you have a basic idea of what a retaining wall is, it is now time to identify why you should build one in the first place. Here are the most common benefits of wall blocks or retaining walls:

1. They Can Be Used for Functional and Aesthetic Purposes

Retaining walls can be used for both functional and aesthetic purposes. They can be used to prevent soil erosion, create level areas in a hilly landscape, or build raised garden beds. Retaining walls can also be used as decorative features in landscaping projects with the use of natural stones.

2. They Can Be Built from a Variety of Materials

Retaining walls can be built from a variety of materials, including wood, stone, and concrete. The type of material you choose will depend on the purpose of the wall and the budget you have available.

3. They Can Be Built by DIYers

Retaining walls can be built by DIYers with some basic carpentry skills. However, it’s important to note that segmental retaining walls can be very heavy due to excessive pressure, so it’s important to have someone helping you if you’re not experienced in working with heavy materials.

4. They Can Increase the Value of Your Property

Retaining walls can increase the value of your property by improving the aesthetics of your landscape and by preventing soil erosion.

Drawbacks of Retaining Walls

Aside from all the benefits that you can get from reinforced wall blocks, there are also some drawbacks that you need to be aware of.

Segmental retaining walls can be expensive to build, and they require regular maintenance. Retaining walls can also be a safety hazard if they are not built properly, which is why you need to know the skills you must have before building retaining walls.

Building a Retaining Wall

Now that you know what a retaining wall is and what benefits it can offer, you may be wondering how to build one. The first step is to consult with a professional engineer or architect to determine if a retaining wall is right for your property. Once you have the green light from a professional, you can begin planning your retaining wall.

When planning your retaining wall, you will need to take into account the following:

  • The purpose of the retaining wall
  • The type of soil on your property
  • The slope of your land
  • The type of material you want to use

Once you have a plan in place, you can begin gathering the materials you need to build your retaining wall.

What Skills Do You Need to Build Retaining Walls?

Anyone can build a retaining wall, but to create a masterpiece and avoid wasting your energy, time, and money, you should first identify and learn the necessary skills.

Here are the key skills you need to master before building a retaining wall:

1. Reading a Tape Measure

A tape measure is one of the most important tools for a carpenter when building retaining walls or any other structures. Retaining walls are all about precision, from the square foot of your land to the right angles, so being able to read a tape measure and other measuring devices is essential.

2. Cutting Wood

Another important skill for retaining wall builders is the ability to cut wood accurately. You will need to use a variety of saws when building a retaining wall, so it’s important that you know how to use each one correctly.

3. Laying Bricks

If you’re planning on using bricks to build your retaining wall, then you will need to know how to lay them correctly to maximize the usable space. This is a skill that takes practice to master.

4. Mixing Concrete

Concrete is the most commonly used material for retaining walls. To create a strong and durable retaining wall like gabion walls, you will need to know how to mix concrete correctly.

5. Operating Machinery

Some types of machinery, such as Bobcats and excavators, are often used when building retaining walls. If you’re planning on using any type of machinery, it’s important that you know how to operate it safely.

Materials You Need to Build Retaining Walls

Aside from the skills that you need to possess, you must also not forget to gather the needed materials for your project. Retaining walls are made from various materials, but the most common ones are wood, stone, and concrete.

1. Wood

Wood is a popular material for retaining walls because it is easy to work with and relatively inexpensive. However, wood is not as durable as other materials and will require more maintenance over time.

2. Stone

Stone is a more durable option than wood to retain soil, but it is also more expensive. Stone retaining walls can be made from natural stone or from manufactured stone veneer.

3. Concrete

Concrete is the most popular material for retaining walls because it is strong and durable. Concrete retaining walls can be cast in place or made from pre-cast concrete blocks.

You will also be needing the following materials when building retaining walls:

  • Gravel
  • Sand
  • Landscape fabric
  • Rebar
  • Masonry adhesive

Building a retaining wall is a challenging but rewarding project. By being prepared with the right skills and materials, you can create a beautiful and functional retaining wall that will last for years to come.

Building Retaining Walls by Dayd Masonry

Dayd Masonry is a company specializing in the construction of retaining walls. We have years of experience in the industry and have build retaining walls for both commercial and residential properties.

If you’re looking for someone to help you build retaining walls, we would be more than happy to assist you. If you’re also a builder that needs assistance with any masonry work, we have everything you need. Contact us today to learn more about our services!