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What Is the Cheapest Retaining Wall Material?

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You need a retaining wall , but your budget is tight. What is the cheapest retaining wall material? Which material is the most cost-effective? Is there an inexpensive retaining wall system that will enhance the appearance of your landscape? Let's take a look at your retaining wall options so you can make a more informed decision.

Retaining Wall Materials

Before you choose your retaining wall materials, you have to know how much of a load it has to hold back. If you need the wall to retain a heavy load of soil and moisture and the wall is going to be a meter or more in height, you will have to hire a structural engineer to design your wall and oversee its construction. Your structural engineer will give you advice about the best materials to use. If the retaining wall must hold back a heavy load and is vital for the safety of the surrounding property, they may suggest reinforced concrete blocks. These are an expensive option and can cost $250 to $450 per square meter, but if they are needed, may be your only option.

Most residential retaining walls don't need such a heavy duty material and you will have a number of lower cost materials to choose from:

Timber sleepers are perennial favorites. Retaining wall suppliers will have a number of sizes and species in stock. Treated pine is the least expensive, but make sure you buy treated pine rated for retaining walls. Timber logs have a distinctive appearance. They can cost up to 50 percent more than timber sleepers. Retaining wall block systems, sometimes called "link blocks," come in a variety of styles. Because they are designed to fit together, they can be ideal for a DIY retaining wall. Blocks, corner blocks, capping and other components are available. Concrete blocks (besser blocks) come in a variety of sizes. They are used extensively in retaining wall construction. Mortar is required and proper drainage is needed, so these should be installed by a professional. Natural rocks and boulders make an attractive and structurally sound retaining wall.

DIY installation is only recommended for low walls that can pose no danger if they collapse. Before you decide on DIY installation, check with your local council. Aside from height restrictions, there may be other reasons why your local council may require professional installation and/or the services of a structural engineer. A local retaining wall material supplier can help you choose the cheapest retaining wall material for your needs and will give you valuable advice about construction. If you're in doubt about your ability to build a structurally sound retaining wall, you're probably right. In that case, get quotes from retaining wall builders and have the peace of mind of knowing your retaining wall will look great and last as long as you need it to.

Cost and price estimates in this article are indicative and should only be used as a guide. They also vary locally and are subject to market forces. This article was updated 22 July 2015 to reflect current market pricing.

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