August 7, 2015

Why Mortarless Construction?

Why would anyone want to build a 4-foot (3.05 m) retaining wall or even a 30-foot (9.1 m) retaining wall without mortar?  A better question is:  Why not?

What is Mortarless Construction?

Mortarless construction is a method of building structures without the limits of mortar.  Simply stacking concrete block or stones has proven to be a durable and flexible alternative to creating amazing structures.  To learn more, visit our Built-In Engineering page on the Allan Block website.

Brief History of Mortarless Construction

Mortarless construction is not a new concept; one of the most commonly cited examples of constructing without mortar are the Great Pyramids in Egypt.  Although this accomplishment is hard to beat, the Inca’s craftsmanship in South America is a great example of architecture and mastery of mortarless construction.  A remarkable portion of what they built is still in use.  Even more remarkable is this is a seismic region!  Retaining walls and other structures the Inca built over 500-years ago have survived many earthquakes, while modern day buildings topple.  From the terraced walls in the mountains, to walls in Cusco supporting important present day buildings, their achievements have stood the test of time.  

Why Use a Dry Stacking System?

A dry stacking, mortarless system has many advantages over other construction methods.  Among these advantages are a flexible system with potential for unmatched site adaptability and being able to use a labor force that does not rely on masonry experience and skills.  By reviewing these advantages you can see how the overall project cost could be reduced.

  • Site Adaptability – A retaining wall constructed using a segmental retaining wall (SRW) block such as Allan Block, conforms to site your conditions with ease.
    • Frost – No need to build or design your retaining walls or landscape walls below frost depth.  The system is flexible meaning the wall will not crack like a rigid retaining wall would.  Also, your overall construction cost will be reduced in labor and materials because you are not burying unnecessary block.
    • Slopes – Stepping up the base course of retaining wall block or mortarless fence block is done with ease.  There is no need to bury more block than necessary, so you will not be buying additional block or concrete.
  • General Labor Force – Masonry experience is not necessary to build a landscape wall out of Allan Block modular concrete retaining wall blocks.  Utilizing your average do-it-yourselfer, or a contractor certified by our outstanding contractor certification program, a retaining wall can be constructed without the highly skilled know-how of a mason or concrete worker.

Whether your construction project is a small landscape wall in your front yard, or a 50-foot (15.25 m) retaining wall, a mortarless system is worth investigation.  These systems have stood the test of time, are flexible, cost effective, and with today’s technology can be the perfect solution for your project.