The Perfect Retaining Wall Part 1

It’s all about the reinforcement…

What would make the perfect retaining wall? The answer is not as easy as one might think…

The first thing to consider might be why do you need to retain dirt? If your house sits on top of a dramatic drop, then literally your home depends on it. I don’t mean to say that you will lose your home immediately, but your foundation might sustain damage over the course of a decade. As people with busy lives, we tend to not place as high of a priority on this type of a need until it is getting to be urgent. Instead of this type of hierarchy of needs, why don’t we think of it in another way? Instead of costing far more money when there is an urgent problem, let’s just fix it now. Why pay for piers for your home’s foundation, or have to mud jack a slab, fix a stem-wall, etc. Fix it before it becomes a problem, the right way the first time, and it will save you money.

When it comes to a retaining wall, strength is paramount, but it is not the strength that people brag about that makes the most difference. If a retaining wall has great compressive strength, but little tensile, shear, or flexural strength, then you might as well have blocks, or even worst, wood. This is like spending a whole lot of money that you will need to spend again in ten years. The one and only thing that gives concrete this type of strength is reinforcement. There are a few ways that you can reinforce concrete:

1) Steel. This is the most frequently used, mainly in the form of rebar. Some times we use structural panels made of eleven gauge wire welded in a truss system. These panels are very strong by
themselves but add concrete, and you just built an immovable object!

2) Fibers. We use fiber in everything that we pour now, even if we do use steel. It just makes sense to put it in when it only costs us
six dollars per yard, and you know that your concrete is going to have a much higher tensile strength because of it. (Helps me sleep easier at night).

3) Spheres. There is a fairly new technology that involves Styrofoam balls that have been shrunk. They make concrete very strong, andvery lightweight.

4) Chemicals. ADC Hardscapes has a specially blended copolymer that we utilize in house. We have first-hand experience of overlays one-quarter of an inch being stepped on, and flexing with
the person’s foot, instead of breaking, (Now THAT is flexural strength)! If you add this to a monolithic pouring process you have another way of reducing shrinkage, increasing not only the
compressive strength, but also flexural, and tensile strengths. Other systems use some reinforcement as well. Some block walls use rebar, but it is not encased in concrete, and therefore erodes. Other block systems claim in person (rarely is it ever written) to have adhesives nearly as strong as monolithic concrete. Even if that were true, why not just get the strongest wall available, ensuring that you will do it once? That wall is a six thousand P.S.I. monolithic poured cement, reinforced with steel, fiber, and chemicals. That wall is then masterly sculpted by our artists for the truly custom, and one of a kind job that only we can do!

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