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What Are Retaining Wall Blocks?

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You want to build a retaining wall. After doing a little research, you discover retaining wall suppliers sell a number of materials you can use to build your wall. Timber, brick and stone are clear enough, but what are retaining wall blocks? Whether it's a small DIY project or a bigger retaining wall that requires professional installation, you want to know more about retaining wall blocks.

What are Retaining Wall Blocks?

Retaining wall blocks are basically masonry blocks designed to be used in the construction of retaining walls. They have a lot of distinguishing features that make them perfect for any residential retaining wall:

They are designed to lock together when installed. Retaining wall blocks do not require mortar. They come in a range of styles, from smooth faces to chiseled stone. They come in a variety of colors. Corner blocks and capping blocks are available. Blocks are available for curved and angled walls.

You've probably seen retaining wall blocks many times before, but may have thought, "How could they afford to pay for that?" A retaining wall built out of these stylish blocks does look expensive, but both the blocks and installation are very affordable.

Installing Retaining Wall Blocks

Retaining walls built from blocks are sometimes called "segmental retaining walls" because the blocks are designed for different segments of the wall. First, you lay a long, straight or curved segment. When you come to a corner, you lay corner blocks designed to fit perfectly with the blocks at the end of the long section. After completing the wall, you lay the capping blocks. There's a little more to it than that, but excavation is not required for footings and no formwork is required. Your supplier will give you full instructions for DIY installation.

Retaining wall blocks are ideal for DIY installation, but check with your local council first. In most parts of Australia, councils require any retaining wall over a metre in height to be installed by a licensed structural engineer. In some states, the height limit may be 900mm or even less.

Don't worry too much if you have to hire a professional retaining wall builder or aren't the DIY type. Blocks are the quickest and easiest of all retaining wall materials to install, so installation will probably be less expensive than for other materials. Because mortar is not required, they are less expensive to have installed than brick and because they are designed to fit easily together, you don't need to hire a stonemason to install a stone look-alike wall for you.

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