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Concrete Masonry Retaining Walls

Concrete masonry retaining walls are easily the most attractive and longest-lasting solution for both new and replacement retaining wall projects.

The main reason people choose a concrete masonry retaining wall over other retaining walls is the limitless options from which one may choose.

concrete masonry wall stone

So, if the retaining wall will be visible, a concrete masonry retaining wall is the right choice for you.

For example, you can match a concrete masonry wall to the exterior of other structures like a home or office building, or choose from brick, stone or colored stucco in any pattern you like. Plus, unlike other building materials, you can clean and maintain the concrete masonry retaining wall.

These versatile retaining walls are built with concrete masonry units and are also known as CMU walls. Concrete masonry retaining walls derive their durability and strength by incorporating a poured concrete footing with steel rebar reinforcement poles that connect the wall’s main structure to the top of the wall.

rebar for concrete masonry wall footing
concrete masonry wall footing with rebar

Concrete is poured through the block cells with the rebar poles to secure the vertical wall to the horizontal footer which creates a solid retaining wall.

Once these steps are complete and have passed inspection by the county or city engineer, work to the surface of the wall can begin.

Be sure to get at least three quotes by reputable retaining wall companies. Verify each has been building retaining walls for at least ten years in your area, are licensed and insured, and provides references unsolicited with their estimate.

When you have made your choice, request a COI (certificate of insurance) and confirm the name of the company matches. The COI will verify that you are a “certificate holder” should anything go wrong during the construction of your retaining wall.

Deciding which veneer will best suit your taste for your new or replacement retaining wall can be fun. Some of the synthetic stone options are virtually indistinguishable from authentic stone. There are also caps to consider which could be made from stone, brick or molded concrete.

stucco concrete masonry retaining wall

If a plan prepared by a civil or structural engineer is required for permitting, be sure the retaining wall company you choose either engages or has a local engineer on staff who will conduct site visits at your property before, during and after the project is complete. Site visits will add a few hundred dollars to the cost of the project but is money well-spent as the engineer will oversee the progress ensuring each step of your new retaining wall system is being done correctly. It also ensures that the city or county engineer will not shut your project down for any reason.

At the completion of the retaining wall construction project, an engineer’s letter with a stamp should be produced with the property address of your new wall. Keep the engineer’s letter handy should you sell your property as it will add value.