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4 Different Types of Retaining Walls That Every Engineer Needs To Know

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Retaining walls are important for reinforcing soil and creating a level surface, preventing the ground from sloping unnaturally. At Shire Engineering Consultants, our geotech engineering services, including retaining wall design, can help with landscaping, stabilising, or excavating your site.


Firstly, let’s explore 4 different types of retaining walls that every engineer needs to know to see which one would work best for your needs.


1) Gravity retaining wall


Commonly used for shorter landscaping types of walls, this type of retaining wall uses the gravitational force of its own weight to prevent the soil behind them from sliding. This wall relies primarily on its own weight to stand. However, this wall can only be used for heights up to 3m.


2) Cantilever retaining wall


Built with reinforced concrete and an L-shaped or inverted T-shaped foundation, a cantilever retaining wall sits under the backfill. Consisting of a stem and a base slab or footing, the base is usually divided into two parts - the heel and toe. While they are relatively similar to gravity retaining walls, a cantilever retaining wall’s additional base provides extra resistance against overturning and sliding.


3) Tieback retaining wall


A tieback retaining wall uses an anchored system consisting of a horizontal wire or rod that helps to stabilise the wall. The tiebacks are anchored to one end of the wall and to a stable structure like a concrete block that has been driven or anchored into the earth. A tieback system can be used to stabilise new retaining walls or reinforce existing walls that have started to bow.


4) Reinforced soil retaining wall


Also known as earth retaining walls or reinforced earth walls, this form of retaining wall reinforces the backfill behind the wall, supporting it laterally and resisting gravity load. This is usually done through utilising geogrids, geocells, geotextiles, and others. This helps to level sloping surfaces, restraining the soil that it’s holding back.


At Shire Engineering Consultants, we provide geotech engineering services including retaining wall design and construction. With over two decades of experience and expertise in civil and geotechnical engineering under our belt, you can count on us to deliver exceptional results. Get in touch with us today for more information.

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