Retaining walls come in different forms and they all cater to different uses. Here, we will be discussing some of the known types of retaining walls.
There are two general categories of retaining walls. The Mechanical Stable Earth Walls and the Conventional Holding Walls. The former is known as one of the most economical and most commonly constructed retaining walls. While the latter is composed of walls built to withstand intense weight and pressure.
Mechanical Stable Walls
These walls are supported by the soil and not the opposite. They are held together by reinforcements such as metallic strips or plastic meshes. Other types that fall under this category are the:
· Panel Walls are made of concrete and is the most common form because of how easy it is to install it. They are made by setting up alternating posts and inserting panels in them. These can be done within a day.
· Concrete blocks are similar to cinder blocks, only, a proportion of its components are more than just concrete and cinders. These are stacks of concrete blocks adhered by mortar. And have steel bars within them to hold the blocks in place and add wall strength.
· Temporary Earth Retaining Walls are used for construction projects and can easily be removed after use.
Conventional Holding Walls
These types of walls are expected to keep large soil structures from collapsing. Due to the types of work they are used for, these may need to follow local building codes.
· Gravity Walls depend on its weight and on any soil resting on the concrete to resist the Earth’s pressure. It is the foremost basic strengthened wall to carry soil. They can be built up to 3 meters and must be built while considering all forms of stress that may disrupt its stability (forces that may affect the soil and the holding structure such as the weight of the wall itself, earthquake forces, seismal load, lateral earth pressure, and its live traffic load) This type of wall is massive to counteract soil pressure! These can be made from materials such as concrete, stone, and masonry units.
o Crib Retaining Walls are gravity walls that are made from precast concrete or timber and are stuffed with crushed stone or other granular materials. These are suited for support planter areas but are not recommended for slope support.
o Gabion Walls are walls that are made with rectangular mesh boxes that are then filled with rocks or other materials. They are used for the development of erosion control structures and to stabilize steep slopes.
· Cantilever Retaining Walls are composed of a vertical stem and base slab and is made of concrete. The stem acts as a cantilever under the lateral earth pressure while the “heel slab” acts as the horizontal cantilever. This is also one of the most common types of retaining walls. It requires lesser concrete but must be constructed and designed carefully. They are can reach heights up to 8 meters but are said to be best at 6 meters.
· Counterfort Retaining Walls; also known as Buttressed Retaining Walls. These are cantilever retaining walls that are strengthened behind the back of the wall slab. Spacing between the buttresses are either equal or slightly larger than half of their height. This type of wall’s height ranges from 8 – 12 meters.
· Piled Retaining Walls are constructed by driving reinforced concrete piles next to each other where the piles are forced deep enough to counter the force pushing the wall down. They provide high stiffness retaining elements that can hold pressure with little to no disturbance to the surrounding structures. These may be used for both temporary and permanent projects.
· Anchored Retaining Walls are employed when there is limited space. These are suitable for loose soil; cable rods or wires are driven deep sideways and ends are filled with concrete to anchor the soil. These work as counters to overturning and sliding pressures.