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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my understanding:

For a cement block garden wall, even at only 2 feet tall, if it is to be covered with anything that relies on stability and no cracks (i.e. stucco or stone veneer), the footing must be applied down to the frost line.

The concrete footer should have be as deep as the blocks are front to back, so standard block will dictate a 8" depth of footer, and front to back of footer double that for standard block with blocks set centered on the 16".

My question is this: If the footer must be dug down to frost line (in my area of NY that's about 3' down), and the concrete footer must only be 8" deep, does this mean below the initial 8" of concrete the remaining 28" of depth can be filled with compacted rock/gravel, or the concrete itself needs to be down to the full 36"?

I would like to build this planting bed surrounding my porch, only 2' high, but if it involves a full 36" of concrete at 16" wide for the full 30', that's a bit much and I'll have to switch to a segmented retaining wall (Cambridge Olde English Wall). If I could fill the depth to the frost line with gravel/rock until 8" below grade, and properly lay the 8" concrete above that to grade, then that's more doable.

Thoughts?
 

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Concrete & Masonry
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You really need to go down the full 36" with the excavation, and then follow with:

- Pour min. 8" by 16" (here, 16" is the ABSOLUTE min., and only applies if you're perfect. Code calls for 4" min. beyond foundation wall in each direction.)

- Build 3-3.5 course frost wall in your situation, wall likely being 12" wide to allow for brick/stone ledge.

- Build above grade 8" wall to receive brick/stone cladding.


If it sounds like a lot of work, it is, which is why many free-standing walls are SRW's now-a-days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks

Thanks for the reply and advice!

So to clarify.

One would want to start the concrete at the bottom of the 36" with a 8 x 16 footer, then do 3 courses 12" (and not 8") til about grade, and THEN a coarse/2 to accept veneer?

WOW, you're right, that is HARDCORE. But you sound like you know your stuff, and doing things the right way is not always easy!

I had wanted to stucco/culture stone the above grade part, but this seems like a bit too much for me, and may go with the segmented Cambridge.

So the idea to excavate to that 3' but fill the bottom 2' of that space with compacted stone, then the 8" rebarred, etc. concrete is not an acceptable way to build footer for wall going <2' above grade? That's probably the only way to make it work for me, otherwise I'll need to go with the srw.

Thanks again for the reply and advice!
 

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Thanks for the reply and advice!

So to clarify.

One would want to start the concrete at the bottom of the 36" with a 8 x 16 footer, then do 3 courses 12" (and not 8") til about grade, and THEN a coarse/2 to accept veneer?

Correct, although you could do 8" the entire way for stucco/plaster, as well as cultured stone. I just prefer a 2" ledge for cultured stone if possible, and the expense of using 10" vs. 8" is minimal.

WOW, you're right, that is HARDCORE. But you sound like you know your stuff, and doing things the right way is not always easy!

I've certainly got all of you "bamboozled" i guess............ :laughing:

I had wanted to stucco/culture stone the above grade part, but this seems like a bit too much for me, and may go with the segmented Cambridge.

So the idea to excavate to that 3' but fill the bottom 2' of that space with compacted stone, then the 8" rebarred, etc. concrete is not an acceptable way to build footer for wall going <2' above grade? That's probably the only way to make it work for me, otherwise I'll need to go with the srw.

To be honest, I think the hardest, and probably the most expensive, part of the whole project is the excavation. The below grade block is simple & cheap IMO. If you look at the actual cost difference between the approach I'm suggesting vs. what you're thinking, I don't think it's much at all. It may actually be cheaper than using landscape block, depending on the cost of that material.
Thanks again for the reply and advice!
No Problem........
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So I've decided to go with (unless some crazy change) a cement block wall, with concrete footer. The blocks will be veneered with 6"x24" MSI Ledger Panels.

Couple questions:

On the concrete footer:

1) Of the space where I intend on pouring the footer: I know with a concrete slab I compact soil, then some odd inches of rock, then pour the concrete. For a block wall should the footer be similar in terms of makeup, or should the poured concrete go straight to soil with no base of compacted rock in between (will the rock base add or hurt the longevity of footer+wall?)? Is the wall more stable with the poured concrete straight to frost area or some inches of compacted rock beneath good for drainage?

2) I have a couple wheelbarrows of crushed/broken porcelain/ceramic tile in my garage, that I'd love to recycle as base. Can I throw this in as part of the compacted 3/4" rock base that I will lay beneath the poured concrete footer (assuming the answer above is yes add rock beneath concrete pour)?

3) Drainage. This wall is only 1-2' high from grade, on level surface. The rear will be 2' away at same height (essentially planting bed). I will back-fill with rock then top 1/3rd with planting soil (right?). What measures should be taken for proper drainage. Just drill some holes near bottom of the wall every few feet? Use perforated pvc pipe laid at slight downward grade behind wall and have it exit through drilled hole at other end?

Thanks so much!
 

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If you insistent on a veneered wall, you could do a poured concrete wall on grade. Put in some horizontal and strapping re-bar and it won't crack from frost. Essentially a "grade beam". Then you can apply whatever finish you desire.

Building a frost wall for 2'-0" of exposure seems excessive. There are aton of options for landscaping walls now that may give you the look you're after. Check with your local landscaping supply (not the box stores). Even try a stone warehouse...you'll be surprised at your options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the reply!

Can you explain what you mean a bit further? At this point I have a ditch dug nicely level to 22" down, 22' long, and about 22" front to back. So what exactly are you suggesting to do at this point. To do poured concrete wall (with some sort of vertical wall forms) instead of block wall? Not sure if that sounds more or less complicated than pouring in concrete, leveling, and then block wall couple courses to desired height and veneer it?

I would love nothing more than to make this project easier (without going for seg ret wall) or cheaper, but want to make sure it's done properly.

Thank you again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Thanks again!

Do you have any input on the 3 questions I posted (posted again below for convenience):

Couple questions:

On the concrete footer:

1) Of the space where I intend on pouring the footer: I know with a concrete slab I compact soil, then some odd inches of rock, then pour the concrete. For a block wall should the footer be similar in terms of makeup, or should the poured concrete go straight to soil with no base of compacted rock in between (will the rock base add or hurt the longevity of footer+wall?)? Is the wall more stable with the poured concrete straight to frost area or some inches of compacted rock beneath good for drainage?

2) I have a couple wheelbarrows of crushed/broken porcelain/ceramic tile in my garage, that I'd love to recycle as base. Can I throw this in as part of the compacted 3/4" rock base that I will lay beneath the poured concrete footer (assuming the answer above is yes add rock beneath concrete pour)?

3) Drainage. This wall is only 1-2' high from grade, on level surface. The rear will be 2' away at same height (essentially planting bed). I will back-fill with rock then top 1/3rd with planting soil (right?). What measures should be taken for proper drainage. Just drill some holes near bottom of the wall every few feet? Use perforated pvc pipe laid at slight downward grade behind wall and have it exit through drilled hole at other end?

Thanks so much!
 

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Thanks again!

Do you have any input on the 3 questions I posted above regarding footing?

Thanks!

The footing width is 2x the wall width and the footing height is equal to the wall width. Put either a keyway along the top of the footing (either set a piece of wood in the wet concrete after pouring or rake out when it slightly stiffens) or place rebar dowels so that the wall can be "locked" into the footing and avoid lateral movement from frost pressures.

Just Dowels: http://www.building-a-home-info.com/images/Concrete_strip_footings_with_reinforcement.jpg

Just Keyway: http://www.teamlorenz.com/images/Garage 24.JPG
 

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1) Of the space where I intend on pouring the footer: I know with a concrete slab I compact soil, then some odd inches of rock, then pour the concrete. For a block wall should the footer be similar in terms of makeup, or should the poured concrete go straight to soil with no base of compacted rock in between (will the rock base add or hurt the longevity of footer+wall?)? Is the wall more stable with the poured concrete straight to frost area or some inches of compacted rock beneath good for drainage? Put the footing on virgin soil only. For your purposes, structural fill and compactiong is not requried.

2) I have a couple wheelbarrows of crushed/broken porcelain/ceramic tile in my garage, that I'd love to recycle as base. Can I throw this in as part of the compacted 3/4" rock base that I will lay beneath the poured concrete footer (assuming the answer above is yes add rock beneath concrete pour)? Use this a drainage fill behind the above grade wall. mix it in with the drainage stone when dumping.

3) Drainage. This wall is only 1-2' high from grade, on level surface. The rear will be 2' away at same height (essentially planting bed). I will back-fill with rock then top 1/3rd with planting soil (right?). What measures should be taken for proper drainage. Just drill some holes near bottom of the wall every few feet? Use perforated pvc pipe laid at slight downward grade behind wall and have it exit through drilled hole at other end? If this is a raised planting bed that will have a wall all the way around, I would lay a bed of stone within the hole planting area (6" deep). lay perforated pipe in and slope 1/8" per foot min. to discharge point. cover stone base with filter fabric and then backfill with soil. If it isn't a perimeter wall then apply the stone and pipe at the backside of the wall. make it about 12" deep and 12" wide and slope and discharge the pipe the same.
 

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99Altrade -

You are just beginning to find the reasons why segmental retaining walls are most commonly used in the world, whether 2' or 40' high. Excavation depths, drainage, soil movement, frost heaves, weather, etc.

You could always fill your excess excavation with good compactable base material go SRW, which does not require a concrete footing (if the site is accessible). - It is good you did not want a curved landscape wall.

A rigid wall only 2' of high gets far too complicated since most everything is hidden and really not needed if there are other options.

Dick
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Thanks for the replies guys!!! Ahhhh, I'm torn! To continue on with the already excavated for cmu+veneer or do as Dick suggests and backfill excavation to install SRW. I've calculated the total costs to be similar in the end (obviously lot more labor with cmu option).

My goal is to maximize return on investment with maximal curb appeal, and if that is definitely with the ledger panel veneer, I don't mind the extra work. I've calculated total cost going either direction to be about $1000 in materials. Labor: me, free.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Per my last reply, notwithstanding other variables/factors (I'm trying to gauge what is better for resale at same cost to me) do you guys think a planter bed around an L-shaped front porch (22' long side, 10' short side) appears *higher-end* and adds more value with the SRW or Ledger Stone (quartzite) panels?

1) This is the panel I'd be using: http://www.pdtravertinepavers.com/natural_stone_ledgers_images/sierra blue.jpg

2) This is the SRW I'd be using: http://www.decorprecast.com/wallDetails.php?page=oldeManor

Thanks again guys for the input!
 

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I personally prefer the SRW as it is a common product that isn't a mystery. I know before I even step over the curb what the system is, how it might fail, what it cost to replace, etc.

The Ledger stone can be done is a multitude of ways and not all are correct. You can't always tell the incorrect methods until it falls apart. Just had that problem on my office building. The contractor is a cheap skate and didn't prep the concrete wall at all. he just slapped the stone up. 2 years later a stone falls off, so he calls the repair man. The repair man finds out that the entire wall (10' high, 50' long) has delaminated and is holding together only by the exposed grout between the stone. With one shovel pry, and entire 20' section fell to the ground. Another pry, and another 20'. They spent more time talking about how ****ty the prep job was than they did taking it down. So what looked like a minor repair is actually going to be a complete redo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
OK Guys! PICS

Here are some pics of where I'm at. I've decided to go ahead with CMU wall (I guess I like to make my life more difficult! - and wife likes the panels).

Here is where I'm at. Building L-shaped CMU wall, total height to be flush with porch. Porch and new CMU wall will be capped with bluestone tread. Short end of L wall will host 3 steps up to porch. I have no clue how to frame out the steps with the CMU's and if I should just throw the concrete down into entire digging (with forms at top, topping til 4" below grade to start wall), or form out narrower forms in various places.

Any suggestions, advice, ideas, etc., four letter words about my skill level, all welcome...... :). Ground is all firm at this point, and tamped. Have not finished setting up rebar as you can see. I also intend on putting in some vertical rebar through footer to go through grouted CMU's, and perhaps bond-beam along top of wall under footer. Total wall is 1.5' or so over grade.

1st pic below (with firepit in middle) - the wall in this pic in appearance is exactly like what I'm trying to achieve (though in just L-shape) - and end posts in this is what I want to achieve in the 90 degree turn in L at corner which is why I dug out a bit extra in corner.

2nd pic below - i would like to put some lights similar to these on wall/steps/post. How to achieve this. Drill and wire after wall or setup wires (where/how) into mortar, or under bluestone caps before adhering to top?)

3rd pic below with steps - i would construct steps similar to this style, but top of steps will be flush up to porch. No idea how to deal with footer and block layout / setup for steps here?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Pics...

Now these are where I'm at...have at me guys! Up to setting up rebar. Ready for insults and advice!

No idea why there is a romex run down there (and why it's not protected with some sort of pipe). The only electrical item I have down after porch there are A/C units and those have electrical coming from elsewhere I think), and no landscape lighting down there. Also, should I just pull out that sprinkler head/flex pipe out of the whole pour and area (seen in long run of L), and deal with after wall is done?
 

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