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tmpyankee 09-09-2008 07:07 PM

$4 per block for retaining wall?
Hello. I need some advice on pricing out a retaining wall.

I need to put up a retaining wall in the backyard of a rental property. The wall is going to be about 65 feet long and averages 4 feet high. I'm trying not to spend a fortune, while also avoiding making the place look like a prison yard. Even though it's a rental, I want it to look nice.

To save money, I thought I'd go with a cinder block wall and face it with stone or something like that. I met with a guy today who quoted me $4 per block, labor and materials, all included. Now, that's just the cinder block--that's not including whatever stone or whatnot I'll use to face the block. He's working up a price on that.

It sounds reasonable, but I thought I'd see what you all have to say.

I'm also open to other suggestions--it's not a done deal yet. :-) thanks!!!

Tscarborough 09-09-2008 07:20 PM

I would say don't do it. Use a segmental retaining wall unit that will end up costing less than anything else and still be there 10 years down the road. CMU are designed for freestanding walls, not retaining walls.

tmpyankee 09-09-2008 08:02 PM

Really?!?!?! You're the first person who has said you shouldn't use cinder blocks for a retaining wall. I've been to three different stone supply yards and spoken with umpteen other people, and not one of them said cinder blocks aren't the way to go.

It's certainly not that I don't believe you--I don't know enough about the materials myself--it's just that I'm frustrated that I'm hearing this for the first time.

I was all excited to find something more affordable than the good retaining wall blocks. There are these great big 'split-face' concrete blocks that have a roughed surface--they're huge. I love them and am told they're fantastic for retaining walls, but they're $6 apiece just for the block. I'm hearing numbers like $24 per block installed. That's over $6000 just to build this crazy wall. There's gotta be a better way. What am I missing here? Help!!!!

Tscarborough 09-09-2008 08:29 PM

You are missing the fact that the CMU are 4 bucks each to install, plus the rebar and grout, plus the footing, plus the cost of the fake stone and ultimately, the cost to replace it a few years down the road. If they say that they can properly install an engineered CMU wall with an adheered veneer for less than a SRW wall, then they are not qualified to install either.

Simply ask for a 5 year material and labor warranty on the CMU wall. I will give one every day for an SRW wall.

Termite 09-09-2008 10:37 PM


Originally Posted by Tscarborough (Post 156682)
You are missing the fact that the CMU are 4 bucks each to install, plus the rebar and grout, plus the footing, plus the cost of the fake stone...

Exactly! There's also the cost of backfilling it with gravel, geo mesh fabric, and a drain system...All of which are mandatory if you want it to last a year. A CMU block wall must have a concrete footing. I would never attempt to make any wall without a footing. You can get away with compacted AB3 for some stacked landscape block walls. With 4' of backfill, there will be a lot of force against that wall, and I don't think that a CMU block wall will work very well unless it is properly installed.

In my opinion, CMU block is not the best option for this at all.

tmpyankee 09-10-2008 11:08 AM

Wow! Well, I guess I'll go back to the drawing board and just do those great big retaining wall blocks. I'm still having a footing poured. Also, I'll be installing drains behind the wall and back-filling with gravel and using the special fabric behind it anyway--regardless of what I use to build the wall.

Thank you for the advice. I'm glad I checked this out before I began the project.


Tscarborough 09-10-2008 11:22 AM

You do not want or need the concrete footing unless it is a water application.

concretemasonry 09-10-2008 11:22 AM

tmpyankee -

Do not ever put a SRW wall on a concrete footing. It is specifically NOT rcommended by every major SRW supplier and licensor. A SRW wall should be placed on a well compacted gravel base. This applies for walls from 4 to 40 feet high.

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