Poured concrete retaining wall?

pegs099(z5 NY)July 30, 2005

I need a 4 - 6 1/2' tall retaining wall on one long side of the pool we're putting in. I'm having a heck of a time finding suitable, affordable, and available material (block) to build it out of. I'm now thinking of a poured concrete wall (like a foundation). I figure I could stain it, or stucco it or even at some point veneer it. Any thought on pros and cons of this idea? Thanks

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A poured concrete wall is fine. But, you need to know that a poured retaining wall typically fuctions as what is called a cantelevered wall. The cantelever is the footing that has to be sized correctly and tied (by rebar) to the wall. The mass of the soil sitting on the footing behind the retaining wall has to be greater than the force that wants to push the wall over. The wall and footing form an "L" with the horizontal part of the "L" behind the wall under the backfill.

If you simply pour an 8" wall on a 16" footing like your house foundation, it is likely to eventually topple.

One reason that modular block walls are so common is that they often require less excavation into the cut to be constructed properly.

A modular block wall (also called semantal retaining walls) is what is called a "gravity wall". The mass of the wall itself is supposed to be greater than the force acting against it. Geogrid is a reinforcement geotextile that incorporates the mass of some of the backfill into the wall which allows it to hold back more force.

Most states require a wall over 4' to be engineered by a licensed structural engineer.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2005 at 8:56PM
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4'-6" is a rather high wall directly adjacent to a swimming pool.
Any chance that you can terrace back the wall into 2 halves ?

We've been faced with this exact same problem over the years that we have been designing swimming pools and probably the least expensive an aesthetically pleasing solutions has been building a reinforced CMU wall and then stucco facing it.

I would never consider using those heinous looking concrete segmented gravity blocks next to a pool or any place else in the landscape. They are a abomination and blight on the landscape .

Why spend your time and money in creating an entertainment / recreational area for your family and then ruin the aesthetics with a mass produced commercial looking product.? ..., gag me.

You might look into stucco combined with stone or tile or even some of the cultured rock veneers are looking pretty good these days.

Here is a picture of a wall directly adjacent to a pool .
The wall was built out of reinforced cmu and veneered with Sayer Quarry hand cut stone.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 30, 2005 at 11:58PM
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pegs099(z5 NY)

Thanks for the insight! First of all, what's a CMU? Secondly, the bottom of the L-shape would be behind the wall (under the high side)? I'm only considering this because I haven't been able to find decent looking/priced block. Cement's also easy to dress up later. BTW, the retaining wall will be at least 8 feet from the pool (at a low point in the wall). There will be patio/landscaped area between the wall and the pool. I am considering stepping it into two walls, but would rather not if possible. Reason being... we put the pool into the slope to save our higher, level play area. If I step the retaining wall I lose either patio area around the pool, or play area above it. If anyone has advice on how to share a photo here, I'd try to post a picture to give an idea. This has been quite frustrating, you'd think there'd be more options of block out there, but there aren't. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 10:17AM
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cmu - concrete masonry unit = your basic cement block that can be faced with stucco, stone, tile ect....

photo posting - see directions at bottom of page on opening page

segmented stackable block walls = ugly

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 11:03AM
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chris_coolh2o(9b N. CA)

refer to gunite walls and pool structures.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 5:22PM
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What's a wimming pool?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 10:50PM
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littledog(z7 OK)

Perhaps it's the act of playfully bending your nose sideways against the face of a Madonna look alike while shopping online for various asian imports?

Here is a link that might be useful: Wimming?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 2:46PM
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Yes, very good, very good. Now is the wimming pool much like a secretary pool where we have a collective of Madonna look alikes from which we can select one?

I'm puzzled how we went from poured concrete walls to swimming pools much more than how we went from there to Madonna.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 6:36PM
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What about a poured wall that is as thick as the block would have been? I was just getting ready to use a system of huge block (41" deep) but it involves using a crane to lower these babies into the back yard. A bit scary. So is there a reason a poured wall per volume has less strength than a block wall?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 10:41PM
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For those who need to DIY, a poured concrete wall can be a good choice. That is, if you live in a moderate climate where the soil does not freeze more than a few inches deep and the base of the wall will be on firm undesturbed soil. Another consideration is whether a concrete truck can get to the wall location.

Most homeowners should leave walls higher than 3ft to the pros.

A poured concrete wall with rebar does not need to be thick to be strong. For walls up to 3ft, 5.5 inches thick works fine. As laag points out, the wall needs a sufficient footer. Walls that have bends greater than 30 degrees, at no more than 20ft intervals, are stronger than straight walls. Where a 2ft wall should have a 24 inch wide footer, a crooked wall with rebar can get by with one 20 inches wide.

Here is a link that might be useful: My first wall construction

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 9:12AM
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I will second laag's suggestion of hiring a structural engineer, since you should not be getting structural details from a web forum. ;) You may also need to get soil tests in order to properly detail your retaining wall.

I will agree that those typical concrete blocks for retaining walls are ugly, and that stucco-ing over a poured concrete wall could be a better option (tho we don't know anything about the rest of your site). Do you have any other hardscape / wall materials in your yard? What is the exterior finish on your house?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 11:27AM
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mich_in_zonal_denial (My Page) = MORON.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 12:50PM
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saypoint(6b CT)


    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 4:21PM
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almost two years later a dog calls a diva a moron; anyone who knows michelle knows that she is not a moron and I would love for her to be here to slide this raindog into a cringing heap. On her behalf: Mr. Peabody challenges the Minnesota raindog to Tequila at sunrise.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 6:07PM
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If your building a retaining wall over 1mtr high in brisbane , you will need an enginner to design it, he will take in consideration of the soil type for how deep to make the foundation, and also how much load is on the wall, if any load bearing surcharges are present like vehicles passing ect. Generally block walls will need a toe in the foundation that sticks out from the wall the higher the wall the larger the toe, the closer the steel risers are and thicker they get.
The wall will need to be corefilled with cement usually 25mpa if its over 1mtr high, There will need to a sealant painted behind the wall and gravel backfill and a aggpipe drain, It is very important that the drain functions properly, meaning has fall and drains away to a suitable location or into the stormwater drain.

We build alot of these walls and timber ones too, if you go to the link you will see heaps of photos under retaining walls brisbane .

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.cpricelandscapes.com

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 4:20AM
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