Common Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Concrete Retaining Wall

11 December 2018
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog


A homeowner can build a concrete retaining wall to protect their property from moisture buildup and from small landslides that can be very damaging. It's not as difficult as you might imagine to mix up concrete and dig a trench for it around the property, but the job may not be as straightforward as you think, either. Note a few common mistakes homeowners make when building a concrete retaining wall, so you're sure to avoid them.

Not using proper forms

You need to use forms when you pour concrete; you cannot just dig a trench and fill it with mixed cement and expect it to hold, no matter the density of your property's soil. The weight of this mixture will usually cause it to settle at the bottom so that it spreads out and collapses, and you have a very poor-quality wall. At the same time, you need to use forms that will hold up against the weight of the soil around you as the concrete dries. Look for very durable, pressure-treated timber in a strong pine or other hardwood that is meant for these types of forms. You may also want to set down lengths of rebar every few feet or meters deep, so that the concrete stays strong even after it dries and is less likely to crumble and crack over time.

Setting it too deep rather than too thick

You might assume that the taller the wall, the stronger it will be. However, this disperses the weight of the wall over its very tall form so that it may be more likely to crumble and crack. For a stronger wall, you want it thick rather than deep, so it stays strong against the weight of the soil pushing against it.

Not creating a drainage system

Adding a concrete wall, no matter how durable, doesn't mean your property won't have drainage or moisture issues. That moisture may simply collect behind the wall and then push against it or cause the concrete to soften. It may also drain around the wall and run off to your property. You need to consider the overall structure of your home's property and moisture content; the property may need to be graded and sloped away from the retaining wall or your home, or you may want to add underground trenches to direct water runoff to the street and away from the home and the retaining wall.