May 18, 2018

How do I end my retaining wall?

There are many ways to complete your Allan Block retaining wall project and they are all dependent on the look you are trying to achieve along with the general layout of the wall you are building. Caps are typically adhered in place on top of the retaining wall with a concrete adhesive to begin the finishing touches. 

In addition, it is very likely you will have step downs as you finish your retaining wall – there are multiple options you can choose from to step down your wall and several of those include:

Use our AB Lite Stone or the Europa Barcelona for a gradual step down as shown in the photo here. (Lite or Barcelona units shown by arrow)

For a steep step down, use the AB Corner Blocks from the AB Collection or the AB Europa collection as shown here. 


Create a planter by turning the wall in or running your corner back further as you near the conclusion (proper preparation such as a base trench will need to be created by excavating and compacting similar to the base course when using these methods). 

 Create a soft ending to the wall by using a curve while stepping down. 




If you find yourself in a situation where the bottom of the wall is rising and the top of the wall remains the same, you may want to follow one of these two methods:





May 11, 2018

Can I Cut Concrete Blocks?


Written by:Laura Horstmann

As any contractor will tell you, yes you can cut blocks. With Allan Block products, we took the need for cutting into consideration when we designed the blocks.

For Retaining Wall Blocks

If your walls have curves involved there is no need to cut our blocks. The blocks are designed with wings in the back that assist with keeping a straight wall but if you need to make a curve the only thing to remove are the wings. The removal of the wings does not require a saw, just a hammer. To remove the wing you place the block face down and, with a hammer, knock the wings off.  As the courses go up with tight radii the blocks might leave a gap between courses. This can be eliminated by modifying the bottom of the blocks. These modifications may require the use of a saw but they can also be done by hammer and chisel. To see how to modify the bottom of the blocks see our Commercial Install Manual on page 56.

We strongly suggest that if your wall has a mitered corner, an angle that is not 90 degrees, is that you change it into a curve because they are stronger and more stable however, if you desire the miter than a saw will be required.

In the event that you have corners in your wall you may have to cut the corner blocks depending on the setback of the blocks. For corner modification see our Commercial Install Manual on page 59.


May 4, 2018

How high can I build with Allan Block retaining wall blocks?

Written by: Kyle Huerd

The simple answer is…there isn’t a max height.  With that being said, there isn’t a reason to build a mile-high retaining wall when skyscrapers have more purpose to build rather than such a high earth structure.  

As walls get taller, reinforcement is required to keep it standing.  That reinforcement can be geogrid, anchors, or No-Fines concrete.  When the wall cannot stay vertical by just using the blocks, then reinforcement is used to achieve a taller height.  Without a limit to how high a retaining wall can be built, cost to benefit analysis will dictate how high you want to build your wall.


April 27, 2018

How to cap a curved AB Courtyard patio wall


Written by: Gerri Hansen

With the wall in place, using the AB Wall Caps to cap the wall is simple.  Just like the AB York block that was used to build the curve, the AB Wall cap also is an angled block with 2 different sizes on each side.  Start by placing an AB Wall cap over two AB York blocks in the center of the curve.  Work out in both directions placing the longer side of the blocks facing the outside of the curve.  At the end of the curve section, turn the AB Wall cap in the opposite direction to start the straight section.

April 20, 2018

Does soil type matter when building a retaining wall and how do I tell what kind I have?

Written by: Danelle DeMartini
A retaining wall – no matter what type of material you plan to use, is designed with one main function in mind; to hold back the dirt.  Knowing exactly what kind of dirt you have makes ALL the difference in how you build that wall.  To figure out what type of dirt you are dealing with, try digging a handful of soil about a foot below the surface and form it into a ball. There are basically 3 types of soil to be able to identify when planning to construct a retaining wall:
·        Clay
·        Sandy
·        Organic

Clay type soils hold a lot of moisture, which adds additional weight to the soil, making the retaining wall’s job more difficult. You can identify a clay type soil popular type of soil and when in doubt – assume your dirt is a clay based soil.





Sandy type soils allow for water to pass through easily and are idea for building walls as they don’t add any extra weight to the soil. You can identify a sandy type soil if the dirt holds is grainy without fine particles, and falls apart when you try to make a ball.