Architectural Concrete Retaining Walls

Architectural concrete walls are beautiful, contemporary and practical. Because concrete is so malleable the variety of concrete wall possibilities are endless. Adding steel to your retaining wall makes concrete one of the strongest and durable types of walls in existence. Because of the clean lines and smooth finish, concrete retaining walls are an excellent choice for any part of you home. Whether you are using concrete walls to completely transform your backyard landscape or just adding small concrete walls to your front garden the simple understated look of concrete will amaze you. Because of the strength of concrete you have almost an unlimited capability for height and length. Using a variety of techniques and products it is possible for concrete walls to have many different fits and finishes. For instance just the top of your concrete wall could be troweled smooth with rounded edges, or the concrete could be brushed for a textured finish. Also the front of the concrete wall has large variety of finishes such as completely smooth with no imperfections, or a more industrial look for concrete is to leave the holes created by the steel reinforcement.

You can also create patterns in the concrete by using triangular nailing strips leaving a V shaped impression in the concrete. Dyes can also be added to concrete to change the color of your concrete retaining wall.  Because concrete walls can be constructed to almost any shape, concrete is the perfect product for angular or un-square areas. Architects and designers alike are turning to concrete retaining walls to match the clean square lines of contemporary and modern construction that is so popular right now. In a lot of cases exposed concrete is used on the house itself making a concrete retaining wall a perfect match.

One of the many benefits of concrete retaining walls is they can be built perfectly plumb while most other retaining wall products require a batter to the wall for strength. This gives your retaining wall a much cleaner look while also taking up less space. Another advantage of concrete walls is that it is very easy to add to them.  For example you can build a fence right on top of the concrete wall or use the retaining wall as part of a foundation for a raised shed. Adding concrete stairs to a retaining wall is quite simple and very structurally sound. Concrete retaining walls also are the perfect base wall for facing with a variety of masonry products such as natural stone, stone veneer, cultured stone, or tile. When using concrete for your retaining walls the possibilities are almost endless.

The build process for concrete retaining walls always starts with a footing. The structural integrity of the retaining wall depends on a strong footing. You must always use a good base material for your concrete wall to sit on. The depth and width of the footing is based on the height, width, length and rainment of the concrete wall. The taller the concrete wall the wider the footing. Rebar is added to the footing for added strength and also so the rebar in the concrete wall can be connected to the footing, making the retaining wall and footing one solid unit. The type of plywood you use for forming the front and back of the retaining wall will determine the finish of the concrete. If you use a smooth papered plywood you will get a smooth concrete finish. If you use a textured plywood you will get a textured plywood finish. Vertical rebar is connected to the rebar in the footing and runs the entire height of the concrete wall. Then horizontal steel is added to connect the plywood in front to the plywood in the back. This insures your concrete wall is straight and maintains a perfect and consistent width.

Once the footing and forms are complete your concrete retaining wall is ready to be poured. In most cases a concrete truck and concrete pump are required for the pour. While pouring concrete it is important to vibrate the retaining wall this will remove the small holes and imperfections from the concrete and give the concrete a beautiful smooth finish. Once the retaining wall has been poured you then “finish” the top of the retaining wall. There are many styles and techniques for “finishing” concrete. After the concrete has been “finished” it is left to set up. Concrete will be fully set in about twenty four hours but you usually give it forty eight hours before removing the forms. This reduces the risk of chipping the concrete. The process of removing the forms from the concrete is called stripping. Once the concrete retaining wall has been stripped you have a finished product. However you can grind and sack the concrete wall for a perfect finish.

Concrete has been used for thousands of years and remains one of the best products for creating beautiful architectural retaining walls.


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