Precast Concrete Retaining Walls
Precast retaining walls are one of many types of precast concrete products now available. As technology has advanced the manufacturers have developed new methods and products meaning there is now a huge amount of choice out there. This has led to a huge variety of retaining walls now being available, all with a different twist and different applications.
Retaining walls are used in a variety of applications; earth retention, aggregate bays, grain stores, salt barns, flood defences, garden walls, domestic use and agricultural uses such as silage clamps. The type of precast wall used will generally depend on the site conditions, the retention job the wall is going to be expected to do, and the aesthetic appearance required. For domestic use and garden walls it tends to be more precast concrete blocks that are used, whereas for more industrial sites you would normally look at larger precast units which don’t look quite so pretty!
Precast retaining walls have, in recent years, gained in favour over in-situ concrete walls or timber walls, and are very popular for construction and civil engineering projects. They have some obvious advantages – they are often a more economical option, easier to install and more environmentally sound than other options.
Where the aesthetic appearance of the wall is important, the most obvious choice is to use retaining wall blocks. These can be made with different finishes and effects which will allow the wall to fit in with the surrounding environment. These types of walls will take longer to construct and are likely to be more expensive than using the more industrial L shape retaining wall units. It will depend on the type of product as to how much can be retained, and the type of fixing that is used. The other option in this case is to use the L shape precast concrete retaining walls, and then clad it with a more aesthetically pleasing finish.
For more industrial type use, the most obvious choice is an L shape precast retaining wall unit. These units are either bolted to a secure foundation or they cast into the concrete slab. The units will generally range from one metre to four metres in height. Units can go higher but this normally requires a bespoke unit to be made. When there are extreme loads involved then it may require the unit to be increased in thickness or additional reinforcement to be included. To get an idea of the loadings then it is worth looking at the British Standards or Eurocodes.
From a structural point of view, it is always best to consult a structural engineer. They will be able to look at the site conditions, what material is being retained and then give you an idea of the product you’ll need and additional things like the foundation required.