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Old 05-19-2008, 12:10 PM   #1
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Retaining Wall Curve


I'm building a long (72') retaining wall that averages about 20" in height. I'm using Ashlar stones from HD. They are pretty basic 12x4x8 blocks with a lip on the back. I can't figure out what I'm supposed to do with the lip (if anything) on curves for courses after the intial course. If I leave the lip on, the block sits back too far and doesn't match up at the edge with the last straight block. If I knock the entire lip off for all of the blocks on the curve, I assume that will impact the stability of my wall. Do I have to cut or knock out appropriate sized notches in the lip so it fits better? Is there an easier way to do this or am I going to have to cut notches in with a masonry blade before I whack the lip with my brick hammer?

I've looked all over online and haven't seen any installation guide that addresses anything other than how to lay the first course in a radius curve. Thanks in advance for your help.

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Old 05-19-2008, 12:53 PM   #2
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Retaining Wall Curve


I left the lips alone on the wall that I built, and everything lined up well. I believe the key is that with every kind of block, there is a recommended minimum curve radius. Don't try to make a tighter curve than what is recommended, and you should be fine.

I also built a flower bed out of left over wall block. For that, I knew that I was making a sharper curve than what the directions said. Since it was just a flower bed, I didn't really care, and just knocked the ends of the lips off so they would achieve a more aligned fit than they would have if I didn't knock anything off.

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Old 05-19-2008, 01:31 PM   #3
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Retaining Wall Curve


Like werc, I also built a small wall for our veggie garden and had a pretty tight curve at both ends. I had the same problem you are with having the second course fit properly, so I just knocked out the ends of the lip so it fit. I used a regular ol' chisel and hammer. We backfilled behind the "wall" with dirt, so that also adds stability.
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Old 05-19-2008, 01:37 PM   #4
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Retaining Wall Curve


Thanks for the info. I have never been able to find any information about the minimum radius either at HD's site or at the mfg. (Pavestone), so I laid out the first course using a pretty wide curve/radius. I guess I'm still concerned because my biggest curve is also at my wall's highest point (24") and I'm afraid that the additional set back caused by the lip (even with a mild curve) will make the wall look off kilter at the curve because the slope in that section won't match the rest of the wall.
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Old 05-19-2008, 01:55 PM   #5
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Retaining Wall Curve


Curved block retaining walls can be difficult, especially when they have a tight curve and you look at them very closely.

Ask HD which of the major licensed retaining wall systems they sell. Pavestone is just a manufacturer that makes different systems depending on the plant location. The major licensors are Allan Block, Anchor Wall Systems, Keystone and Verslok. If HD does not know what system they sell, go to the sites of the above listed licensors to determine which system you have. All of the sites have very good information on the installation, use and suggestions for their products. This is especially true about corners and curves.

Ashlar is a common masonry term, but Allan Block does have a product like that refers to "Ashlar", but others may have similar probucts, so pay attention to the dimensions of the block you bought.

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Old 05-19-2008, 02:48 PM   #6
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Thanks for the suggestion, Dick. The licensor is Anchor Wall Systems. It's part of their "new" Natural Impressions line, and it's a version that is licensed exclusively to Home Depot so Anchor doesn't have anything about it on their website. They do, however, have a version that is identical in size/shape but has a flagstone face/appearance. Per your suggestion, I downloaded their brochure and it gave me the minimum radius (2.5 ft.), which is a lot tighter than the radius I'm using.

I thought I had looked at the instructions for all of the major licensors and manufactures, as well as lots of tips from DIY sites. No one says anything about what to do with a curve beyond laying the first course and the capstone. However, after reading your reply, I went to Keysone's website for the first time. While they appear to have the least detailed instructions of all the licensors, their instructions seem to have the answer. According to Keystone: "to maintain proper spacing on curves, remove the outside edges of the retaining lip as required."

I guess my next task is to figure out how much lip to retain in the center since I want that contact point for stability. It's not easy to chip off those lips with any reasonable accuracy.

Thanks again for pointing me in the right direction
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Old 05-25-2010, 07:00 PM   #7
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Retaining Wall Curve


I guess I'm 2 years late on this, but I had the same question and Anchor Wall Systems now has a PDF on their website on this topic. They say the proper way is to split the block to the right size and insert the smaller block in place. This maintains the running bond since curves will eventually knock it off balance. The running bond is basically what keeps the wall stable - any google searchers should be referred here: http://www.anchorwall.com/cmsVirtual...SRW-WSP924.pdf
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:33 PM   #8
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Thanks for the reply. It actually wound up being a non-issue, probably because my curves were not very severe and went both inside and out. I forgot to post a picture of the finished product. This photo only shows less than 1/2 the wall, but gives you a good idea of the curves.Retaining Wall Curve-img_1098.jpg
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:31 PM   #9
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Retaining Wall Curve


nice work there
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:35 PM   #10
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Retaining Wall Curve


Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Cheesehead View Post
I've looked all over online and haven't seen any installation guide that addresses anything other than how to lay the first course in a radius curve. Thanks in advance for your help.
I somehow hit on the right keywords so I had a link awhile ago about retaining walls.
The idea is to keep them from sliding out or tipping over, under the pressure from the soil. Very technical, kind of like building a dam.

Mr. H is the resident CE, he maybe has some rules of thumb handy.
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Old 05-27-2010, 10:45 AM   #11
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Retaining Wall Curve


I wound up hiring someone to do the front side of my house since doing the original wall solo just about killed me. He used the phrase "hydrostatic presssure" and said that one of the keys for interlocking blocks is making sure you have gravel between the dirt and the wall for drainage. I'm also guessing that maintaining a tight running bond is not as big of a deal when you have a wall like mine that doesn't get above 2 feet high. Seemed like it was 20 feet high when I was lugging the materials up the hill...

Quick tip to save money: To cut the caps to fit the curves, rather than rent an expensive wet chop saw I used my cheap tabletop wet tile saw. The blade's not high enough to cut all the way through so I would cut one sid and flip it to cut the other side. It took a little longer and I had to frequently change the water, but it really wasn't that much of a hassle.

Here's a photo of another part of the wall. I discovered by looking at photos on the web that if you have multiple tiers it looks more polished when an upper tier peels off from the main wall.
Retaining Wall Curve-img_1094.jpg

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