Design and Structural Components of Retaining Walls Explained in Detail

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When the earth forms a natural sloping face, there is a risk that the soil can slip off and affect the structural integrity of anything built on them. Usually, soils sitting on slopes have a high risk of subsidence because of the external pressure, excess moisture and excavation that weakens the soil structure. By building a retaining wall, you can keep such soils in their place and prevent them from slipping downwards and endangering people's lives. Understanding the structural components, designs and types of retaining walls is critical for making the most of them. Here is a discussion that sheds more light.

Structural Elements

The structural elements of a retaining wall make up the primary features of the walls. The essential components here include the following:

  1. Base slab  Just like any other structure, retaining wall requires an element that can absorb all the load from the materials used to make the wall. The base slab is the footing that acts as the foundation of the retaining walls. Your wall's structural load rests on the base slab.
  2. Toe and Heel — A retaining wall's toe is a section that extends slightly beyond the retaining wall's face. On the other hand, the heel stretches away from the back of the walls. These two components form the visible bottom section of the wall, and they denote the extreme rear and forward sections of the base slab.
  3. Stem — The stem refers to the large cross-section of the wall. It comprises the part that is in contact with the backfill and the exposed front face.
  4. Buttress  The buttress connects the stem and the base slab. It is a strengthening element that determines the retaining wall's ability to withstand the backfill pressure.

Types of Retaining Walls

Retaining walls come in different types. The range of choices allows you to choose something that fits your specific reinforcement and constructional needs. Some of the popular types of retaining walls include the following:

  1. Gravity retaining walls — A gravity retaining wall employs sheer mass and weight to hold the backfill material in place. The focus on weight allows the builders to use various materials such as pavers, plain stones without mortar and bricks. They can also use dry-stacked stones.
  2. Semi-gravity retaining — A semi-gravity retaining wall is a slight variation from the traditional gravity retaining wall. It comprises minimalist amounts of rebar or reinforcing steel to reduce the needs for a large wall cross-section.
  3. Anchored retaining walls — Anchored retaining walls feature several fronts reinforced by anchors attached to the wall by unique strips. These anchors are driven into the ground.

For more information, contact a retaining wall contractor today.