March 8, 2013

Segmental Retaining Walls: King of the Hill

Many people think of mortarless stackable blocks as a modern invention, but they existed thousands of years ago. We need only look at the Great Pyramids in Egypt to see the versatility and durability of mortarless stone construction. Recent advances in construction materials and techniques have taken dry stack construction to a new level.

Just 30 years ago, builders and homeowners needing retaining walls had a limited choice of materials and techniques: treated wood, cast-in-place concrete, concrete masonry block or natural stone. Each has its own limitations in installation, design and cost.

For example, while treated wood may be inexpensive to procure and abundantly available, they begin to rot and decay shortly after installation and have been declared an environmental hazard by the Environmental Protection Agency. Although natural stone is a durable and beautiful material, high

costs and installation difficulties limit its use in the average landscape project. Mortared concrete block and cast-in-place concrete walls involve highly paid, skilled labor and take more time to install and they will need stone or brick facings if aesthetics are important.

In the 1980’s when first Segmental Retaining Wall (SRW) blocks were developed, they featured an innovative concrete block design that allowed retaining walls to be built quickly and easily without footings, mortar joints or pins. The retaining wall market hasn't been the same since.

Each of the different retaining wall materials has unique attributes that make it suitable for different wall projects and job sites. Before choosing a wall material, you should consider the differences and advantages of each. Factors to evaluate include the quality and durability of the material, necessary labor skills, installation ease and total project costs. Once you do the research, you will see why segmental retaining walls are king of the hill!

Visit allanblock.com to get great information on retaining wall installation, product selection and more.