Building A Retaining Wall Made Easy

When retaining walls first started to be constructed, people thought they were revolutionary, and they still are to this day. They are an incredible part of construction and engineering that helps to produce beautiful landscapes. Flat areas transform into a terrace or patio in no time using retaining walls. Also, some of the most stunning gardens have been produced through the use of retaining walls. When they are not transforming landscapes, retaining walls can also help with fortifying slopes that will prevent soil erosion.

Because retaining walls are so versatile and provide such a transformation, they bring both visual and practical benefits to your property. Not only can you increase the value of your property by having a retaining wall built, but you will also have a long-term investment. If ever do sell your home, you should be able to make your money back and more when they spot you have a retaining wall!

Due to our landscape in North Vancouver, many homeowners are familiar with retaining walls. It can be tricky to know how to build one yourself, and it is not recommended that you try to complete a complicated retaining wall build by yourself. The building process is complicated, and different techniques need to be used and can often only be used by a professional. You should hire a professional retaining wall contractor such as VanCity Retaining Walls to do the job for you. If you are considering building your simple retaining wall, there are a few things that you will need to consider.

Luckily for you, we have created this article to simplify the process of building a retaining wall. Below you will find information about what you need, how easy one might be to construct, easy retaining wall building options, and some general tips and tricks that you might find handy. We will also cover whether the DIY approach is going to be the right approach for you or whether it is worth hiring a professional.

The Materials You Need

Unfortunately, there is not just one set of materials that work well for building retaining walls. There are multiple different types of retaining walls that will all require different materials to construct. Without the right materials, you run the risk of creating a faulty retaining wall. As a general rule, the following factors help determine what building materials are going to be perfect for the job:

It is important to remember that some materials are going to be easier to work with than others, but there are also practical implications that get in the way. For example, the wet weather conditions in Vancouver require drainage systems and the soil type all need to be considered when planning to build a retaining wall.

Now let us go into more detail about the specific types of building materials that homeowners tend to use when building a retaining wall.

Regular Bricks

Bricks are one of the most popular choices of building materials as they are very durable and offer the classic aesthetic look that most people are used to. Brick provides a more sophisticated and modern look, but it is more expensive when compared to some of the materials we will talk about. It also requires more mortar and has a longer installation time.

Interlocking Concrete Blocks

These are generally very straightforward, and the interlocking design is very aesthetically pleasing. It produces a clean and uniform design that many people love. Like with regular bricks, interlocking bricks are very durable and strong. Unlike regular bricks, they don’t need any mortar; therefore, this is one of the more cost-effective building materials that is used, and it requires less installation time.

The best thing about interlocking concrete bricks is that they come in many different textures and colors, creating a quirky design people with a love for a modern flare will adore. Plus, it gives you far more customization over how your wall is going to look and feel. A final benefit is that they are plant-manufactured, which makes them a lot cheaper. They can also withstand water and fire hence why they are so durable.

Railroad Ties

If you are going to construct your retaining wall, using railroad ties is possible one of the easiest and cost-effective types of material until recently when prices have gone up substantially. As long as you know how to use a drill and a saw without harming yourself, then you will be able to use railroad ties for the construction. Bear in mind, using railroad ties is time-consuming, and because they are so bulky, people often complain that they are difficult to work with. They can take some getting used to!
What we like about railroad ties is will give a property a more rustic and authentic feel. But don’t let the fact they are easy to use fool you. They are suckers for water damage which can play havoc on the structural integrity of your wall. Railroad ties are a wooden material, and the wood soaks up the moisture, which causes damage to its internal structure. Stone and brick materials are far more durable.

Cinder Blocks

Cinder blocks are one of the most cost-effective options out of all the retaining wall building materials. However, like with normal bricks, you will need some mortar to successfully install a retaining wall using cinder blocks. Cinder blocks also require accurate spacing otherwise the structure of the wall will not be safe.

What’s more, you won’t have much room for customization as cinder blocks tend to come in one color. However, you can add some paint to give it a different look and feel. Although, this will just require extra maintenance as the years go on.


It is easy to think of concrete as an industrial, gray material that isn’t very aesthetically pleasing. However, concrete can be customized in so many different ways and can be one of the most aesthetically pleasing materials that you can use. There is usually a variety of different colors for you to chose from. Some people even like to have their concrete material covered in stone veneers. This will help to give a natural stone look for less.

It is a cost-effective material that is highly durable when it is installed right. If it is installed wrong, concrete is prone to cracking and structural damage.

DIY: Building a Retaining Wall

If your mind is set on building your retaining wall, the following tips should help you along your way. Setting The Retaining Wall Base:

Building The Retaining wall:

Want Your Wall Built Right?

Do I or don’t I will most likely be the question going through your mind. If you feel like you have the technical skill to complete a retaining wall build by yourself, then it could be a good DIY project. However, since a lot of it is very technical and requires a lot of skills, it is probably better to hire an expert contractor to build it, such as VanCity Retaining Walls.
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