When you look at your wood retaining wall, what do you see? Is it leaning over in a way that suggests a lawsuit waiting to happen? Or is it simply becoming an eyesore in your neighborhood full of warped and rotting boards? If your wood retaining wall is looking worse for wear, it may be time to consider replacing it. Wood retaining walls can be repaired, but if you want to upgrade the look of your home with a retaining wall that will be hassle free for years to come, interlocking concrete block retaining wall is what you need.
What is a Retaining Wall?
Retaining walls are protective structures that have become eye-catching parts of yards in Coquitlam and in surrounding communities. When used in a yard, they serve as a border identifying the boundary of a home, as a decorative landscaping element, or to prevent erosion. One of the primary uses of retaining walls in residential settings is as a method of correcting the natural slope of the yard. This provides a flat areas for landscaping or building a patio.
Retaining walls need to be strong, weather resistant, and built to last. Retaining walls can be built out of several materials, but the most common are wood, brick, stones, and concrete blocks. Installing a retaining wall can improve the look of your home and increase the property's value. The materials used will determine the amount of maintenance required to maintain the look and function of your retaining wall. Wood retaining walls require more maintenance than a retaining wall made of concrete block or stone.
Repair or Replace? That is the Question.
Wooden retaining walls naturally weather. That is part of their charm. As a homeowner, it is important that you are aware of the point when charm turns to unsafe. Wood retaining walls will provide visual cues when it is time to focus some attention on its maintenance. Some of those visual cues are:
If the wall is structurally sound and you are looking to save a little money, you can try replacing the boards that are damaged with new ones. If you do attempt to replace damaged boards, you will need to ensure you are replacing them with boards that are treated so they can withstand the moisture from the soil. Keep in mind that you are using wood, and no matter what it is treated with, water will seep into the wood, eventually.
Treated wood just slows the processes that can cause damage to wooden boards. One other note about treated wood is that it can be bad for your health and the environment. The chemicals used to treat the wood are known to cause cancer, so long-term exposure to the wood can be bad for your health. The chemicals in the wood can also leach into the soil, which can be bad for the environment. If you inspect your wall and determine the structure to be damaged, you may want to replace the wall instead of trying to repair it.
Interlocking Concrete Block
There are several advantages to replacing an old wood retaining wall with one made of concrete blocks.
For all of its advantages, there are a few potential disadvantages to be aware of. First, you will want to give some thought to the design. Stacking concrete block may seem like an easy weekend project, but you will want to give some thought to the design ahead of time so you purchase the right amount of block.
If you decide to go with poured concrete, hire a professional, as building the forms and ensuring your concrete is poured and cured properly with enough strength and drainage is a bit beyond an average DIY project. Second, concrete block retaining walls do not have footings. The lack of support footings limits the height of the retaining wall to four feet. If you need to go higher than four feet, you will need to discuss other styles of concrete retaining walls with a contractor.
Retaining walls are great ways to improve the look and function of your yard. If your home has an old wood retaining wall that needs to be replaced, seek the retaining wall pros from Coquitlam Retaining Walls for a second opinion.
Unfortunately, not every home was constructed on a perfectly level lot. Drive though almost any neighborhood in Coquitlam, B.C., and you’ll see that many yards are on hills. Mounds and slopes create a challenge for both maintaining and preserving the soil. It’s also difficult to design a landscaping plan for the slopes and slants, and the effort to maintain an even supply of water is an ongoing struggle. One such suggestion to counter these challenges is using a retaining wall.
A retaining wall is simply a structure built up against the earth to hold back the soil and create a level space of ground for flower or garden beds or a yard area. Could a retaining wall be the solution for your home? It’s important to understand how the retaining wall works to determine if it would accomplish the goal held by the homeowner.
The primary focus of a retaining is wall is to a create a vertical barrier that the soil can sit against. It is used on properties where additional support is needed to prevent the ground from being washed away. In other words, a retaining wall keeps large quantities of the earth from being removed from the grounds.
Another indication a retaining wall might be required has to do with water drainage. On one hand, a sloped property has the problem of all the water following the slope to the most downhill portion of the property. This creates a problem of lost water in the uppermost areas and flooding in the lower areas.
But a retaining wall is no small project. Construction of a wall requires a specific skill set and understanding of the potential pitfalls. Consider the pros and cons to help you decide if a retaining wall could benefit the layout of your property.
The Pros and Cons
As mentioned, a retaining wall is not a quick and easy project. When weighing the risks and benefits of constructing a retaining wall, weigh these considerations to determine if this is an appropriate place for a wall.
All home improvement projects are based on cost vs. benefits decision-making. Here are some of the most notable reasons to add a retaining wall to a property as well as some reasons that may prohibit a wall as an option.
Reasons For A Retaining Wall
After considering the pros and cons, it comes down to necessity. If you have a soil erosion problem, you are in a race against time to capture the soil and structure a retaining wall to avoid further loss.
If you have unstable soil in a location uphill from your property, there is the possibility that a sudden shifting could send significant amounts of earth further downhill and off of the property.
If your property has any areas that are prone to flooding, a retaining wall could likely help. The wall would provide a method for the precipitation to wash through without carrying out the soil.
Would you like to structure the landscaping into a level beds around the home? If so, a retaining wall can be used to fill in areas where slopes make it difficult to create a uniform landscaping plan.
Which Type And Material?
If you’ve concluded that a retaining wall is necessary, the next issue is which kind of wall and which material to use. Retaining walls are constructed from a variety of materials. If you must make use of a retaining wall, it should complement the overall look of the property. Common choices of materials often include wood, stone, concrete, or brick.
There are factors that are unique to the project location that could limit the options. The type of soil, whether it is heavy or light, could necessitate a specific materials choice. This is because the wall will be holding back the soil and, over time, the pressure of the soil could overwhelm the wall. How tall is the wall expected to be? The retaining wall has to be able to accommodate the angle of the slope. The steeper the slope, the more likely it is that the wall will have to be built to greater heights. Again, this detail can limit the types of materials available. Both of these issues are easily overlooked or miscalculated.
Who Can Help?
This level of home improvement is best left to an experienced hardscape professional. The contractor should have years of experience with these types of challenges and a number of ideas to offer as possible solutions. A failed DIY retaining wall can end up causing even more problems. If this happens, the cleanup and the cost to rebuild will be substantially more.
You must consider if you have the time, energy, and expertise to attempt to install a retaining wall yourself. Most property owners will find the answer to that is a resounding no. In that case, Coquitlam Retaining Walls is available to assist you in accomplishing the project. Our team of hardscape professionals has a wealth of experience in landscaping and construction.