Retaining walls can be made from a variety of materials, but nothing beats concrete when it comes to strength and durability. With the new moulded concrete retaining wall systems available today, a concrete retaining wall can be not only tough, but aesthetically pleasing, too. The question is: "Is a concrete retaining wall affordable?" Here's what you need to know.
Cost of Retaining Walls*
Concrete is competitive in price with other retaining wall materials. A comparison of square metre prices will give you a rough idea of the differences (estimates include labour and materials):
- Treated hardwood sleepers are usually the least expensive, costing between $200-$300, depending on the complexity of the job.
- Treated pine logs (H5 for wet conditions) cost between $225 and $350.
- Treated pine sleepers usually range between $150 and $250 per square metre.
- Unreinforced interlocking concrete blocks can cost anywhere from $150 to $450.
- Concrete blocks reinforced with geogrids or Mass concrete are designed for heavy applications and may cost between $250 and $450 per square metre.
- Rocks and boulders are graded according to quality and whether or not they are natural or cut. Prices can range from $150 for natural boulders to $500 for "A" grade cut sandstone.
The price of a material is only one indication of its true value, though. Treated pine logs might last up to 20 years, while hardwood sleepers will need to be replaced after 10 years or less. Concrete blocks and natural stone, on the other hand, will last 40 years or more.
How Much Does a Concrete Retaining Wall Cost?
If you need to build a small, decorative retaining wall, using interlocking concrete blocks can be one of your cheapest and easiest options. Systems designed for DIY homeowners include everything you need, including corner pieces and capping. They don't need mortar and come in a wide variety of styles and colours.
For a larger retaining wall, there are a number of costs to consider. You may need council approval and if your retaining wall is going to be over a metre in height, you will have to hire a structural engineer
to design and oversee construction of the wall. You may need to buy a more expensive reinforced system and will have to take technical details such as drainage into account. You may be able to save on labour costs by doing some of the work yourself, but there's a reason why councils require the services of structural engineers: if a retaining wall collapses, it poses a significant danger. A professional retaining wall contractor
knows how to do the job right and build a retaining wall that will last as long as the concrete blocks themselves last.
*Cost and prices in this article are indicative and should only be used as a guide. They also vary locally and are subject to market forces.