Retaining wall - Block or Sleeper

Retaining wall - Block or Sleeper

Author
Discussion

sidekickdmr

Original Poster:

4,744 posts

171 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
Good monring,

I’m starting my garden kitchen build at the weekend and as part of the build I need to build a retaining wall, the wall will create the literal wall on 2 sides of the kitchen so will need to be about 2.4 meters tall, but it will only be retaining about 1.5 meters of earth at the highest point.

I was planning to use breezeblocks, and then render it and paint, but this seems very labour intensive and I've never laid a wall before, let alone rendered anything.

So I've also considered doing a sleeper wall, putting 3 meter sleepers vertically, concreted in the ground, and tied together near the top with a metal band. This would also give a nice "rustic" finish and I personally would prefer this finish to a rendered wall.

I would put some landscaping fabric up against the back of the sleepers and then a layer of gravel for drainage.

Any thoughts on either design, or any other ideas?

Thanks

barryrs

3,440 posts

188 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
I would be concerned about the longevity of sleepers.

M & M Timber have a product called Unilog which comes with a 15 or 30 year service life warranty.

http://www.mmtimber.co.uk/unilogpro

joshleb

1,296 posts

109 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
Blocks then timber clad it for the rustic effect?

barryrs

3,440 posts

188 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
If you do decide on block dont forget drain holes at the base and i would recommend hollow concrete blocks sat over some rebar cast into the footing and then filled with concrete.

Another DIY option is a crib timber retaining wall.

C0ffin D0dger

3,440 posts

110 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
I'd echo the above regarding sleepers but that's assuming softwood. If you were to get some reclaimed jobs in a tropical hardwood like Azobe they'll still be there 50 years time.

That said I build a raised bed area at the end of my garden using softwood sleepers, I loosened the soil at the back of them and dumped a load of broken concrete, bricks etc. against the foot of them to help with drainage, I then stapled builders polythene to the back of them (i.e. what they use under concrete floors for damp proofing) before backfilling with soil. They've been down a few years now and still look new.

33q

1,286 posts

88 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
My advice would be not to use sleepers

In early 2010 I had my garden landscaped using sleepers set vertically into concrete.

Earlier this year I had my garden landscaped again. This time using concrete blocks, rebarred vertically and horizontally and faced with natural stone.

Why???

Because the sleepers were rotten!!

6 years and some were completely shot. If I was building an extension that relied on a nearby retaining wall I'd use blocks and reinforce them. As sure as eggs is eggs sleeepers will not last, even with matting and drainage etc.

In addition I'm not sure building control would be happy

sidekickdmr

Original Poster:

4,744 posts

171 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
Ok, you are all kind of echoing my concerns with the sleepers.

I'll probally stick to block wall then, but a good idea to timber clad, rather than render, I may look into that

Thanks smile

Tom_C76

1,923 posts

153 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
Forget the longevity, sleepers won't stand the weight without snapping. Plus an embedded retaining wall needs to be two thirds in the ground and 1 third out.

At 1.5m high you really should get the thing deigned, not just stab a guess and start building, but for a masonry gravity wall a rough rule of thumb is to make it 1/3 the thickness of the retained height, ie 500mm thick for yours. That can be by laying a front face and then pouring concrete behind.

DocJock

7,180 posts

205 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
Timber-faced gabions?

sidekickdmr

Original Poster:

4,744 posts

171 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
Tom_C76 said:
Forget the longevity, sleepers won't stand the weight without snapping. Plus an embedded retaining wall needs to be two thirds in the ground and 1 third out.

At 1.5m high you really should get the thing deigned, not just stab a guess and start building, but for a masonry gravity wall a rough rule of thumb is to make it 1/3 the thickness of the retained height, ie 500mm thick for yours. That can be by laying a front face and then pouring concrete behind.
1.5 meters was a genourous guess, it's less than that, and besides the slope is already "self supporting" so it's only the bottom section of the slope I am chipping away.

Here is my comprehensive scientifically accurate diagram:


RC1807

10,098 posts

133 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
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Nice diagram! laugh


Sleepers: There's been a recent thread here on the use of sleepers as retaining walls. I've used them, but OLD, reclaimed sleepers, and they were brilliant. They're still in that garden some 12 years later.

Using new oak sleepers, it seems, they're not the lasting kind.

227bhp

10,203 posts

93 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
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Gabions.

sidekickdmr

Original Poster:

4,744 posts

171 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
227bhp said:
Gabions.
As this is going to end up as an "internal wall" I dont really want wire and stones on show.

Someone above mentioned timber faced Gabions, cant seem to find anything on them online.....

C0ffin D0dger

3,440 posts

110 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
sidekickdmr said:
As this is going to end up as an "internal wall" I dont really want wire and stones on show.

Someone above mentioned timber faced Gabions, cant seem to find anything on them online.....
Thinking aloud but if the Gabions were well filled and as they are made of galvanised wire can you then render over them. Probably a stupid idea but you never know biggrin

Drumroll

2,636 posts

85 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
The Slope may be stable now but you are taking its base away. Where is the water from behind going to drain too?

I Would look at building a little stub wall, breeze blocks filled with concrete with drainage behind. Then you can but almost anything in front of it as it will be purely decorative.

DocJock

7,180 posts

205 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
sidekickdmr said:
As this is going to end up as an "internal wall" I dont really want wire and stones on show.

Someone above mentioned timber faced Gabions, cant seem to find anything on them online.....
I meant use gabions to retain the bank and clad them yourself, sorry. smile

bobtail4x4

2,987 posts

74 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
the retaining wall is going to be the extension wall too?
that needs a lot more design than offered here,

sidekickdmr

Original Poster:

4,744 posts

171 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
bobtail4x4 said:
the retaining wall is going to be the extension wall too?
that needs a lot more design than offered here,
Garden kitchen with no proper roof, a bit like this, so damp etc doesn't matter, doesn't have to be perfect!


bobtail4x4

2,987 posts

74 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
in that case, build it in block, with a decent foundation, a brick/stone/cowdung facing and make sure you put gravel behind it with a drain to stop any water pressure forcing through.

oh and DONT put a dpc in it, dont laugh I have seen it,

dazwalsh

5,657 posts

106 months

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
quotequote all
Block retaining wall like suggested with dry stone cladding/wall infront?