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What Makes a Retaining Wall Work?

Allan Block retaining walls make it possible to build homes and achieve landscaping projects in some of the most unlikely places. These walls can support foundational structures and significantly reduce soil erosion. Builders have relied on them for millennia, but how exactly do they work?

What Are the Main Types of Retaining Walls?

Before determining the secret to how a retaining wall works, it’s important to understand the two main types. These types bring different structural components and mechanics to the table.

Gravity Walls

Gravity walls require a precise weight and setback to work properly. Setback refers to the angle at which the wall leans to keep the soil in place. The weight of the wall and the degree of leaning from the vertical upright position are the two secrets behind how this type of retaining wall works.

Reinforced Walls

These walls are a little more complicated and require three components: weight, setback and geogrid. The geogrid refers to woven material used to weave soil and other materials together. Geogrid makes it possible for the walls to push back against the strong forces of the heavy soil bracing against them.

What Are Additional Components of Retaining Walls?

Weight, setback and geogrid serve as the core factors behind how these walls work. As well, there are additional components to consider.

Positive Interlock

In a retaining wall, the strength of each component is essential for the overall strength of the wall. To ensure full strength, Allan Block uses a rock-lock connection. Years of experience and experimentation have proven that this is the most stable and reliable block-to-grid interlock. It provides additional strength beyond the materials used to hold each component together.

Internal Stability

The soil and the retaining wall work together to create internal stability. When built correctly, the soil and the retaining wall function together like one cohesive unit. When the internal stability of a retaining wall fails, it can manifest as bulging, pullout or grid rupture.

External Stability

External stability depends on how well designers calculated the force of gravity and the weight of the soil. Proper analysis and accurate execution allow the soil and wall to function as one unit. Engineers achieve external stability by satisfying sliding, overturning, bearing capacity and global stability considerations.

What Are Crucial Design Considerations?

When building a retaining wall, Allan Block must review several factors and how they might affect the strength and functionality of the wall. Planning for these in the initial design phase ensures your retaining wall stands the test of time:
  • Water Drainage: Water can move more than just soil. It can also move walls and foundation structures, so drainage is crucial to maintaining stability.
  • Embedment: Engineers need to determine how deep the grid length should extend beyond the wall. This is crucial for meeting gravity mass requirements.
  • Layers: Retaining walls require enough layers to ensure the internal strength can handle the load created by the soil mass. Layers also need proper spacing to distribute internal forces.
Our home and garden center has everything you need to build a beautiful and functional retaining wall for your home. Find out more about how our trusted partners at Red's Home & Garden, such as Allan Block, can help you achieve your vision.

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