Retaining walls

February 2008 » Products » SPECIFIERS' GUIDE
When it comes to retaining wall products, the variety of options is as diverse as the applications themselves.

When it comes to retaining wall products, the variety of options is as diverse as the applications themselves. Suitable for erosion control and structural purposes, as well as landscaping and garden situations, retaining walls are available in a variety of heights, finishes, and installation types. With the importance of durability and aesthetics in mind, manufacturers offer natural-looking solutions with superior strength. Other successful systems are based on ease of installation, requiring no fasteners or mortars, and are self-aligning and self-sloping. Components essential to retaining wall solutions also include tieback anchors and wall finishes.

In response to a request from Structural Engineer, a number of companies provided the following information about their products. Some companies declined to participate by failing to return the questionnaire by our deadline. We apologize for inadvertent omissions. To be added to our contact list, please e-mail Jennifer Goupil, P.E., at jgoupil@zweigwhite.com.

Boulderscape, Inc., (BSI) installs sculpted geological and architectural shotcrete wall finishes over almost all types of retaining and non-retaining walls. The company has installed its finishes for several highway and roadway projects throughout the United States (more than 7 million square feet). According to the company, its wall finishes are more cost effective than most wall facades in the industry and withstand extreme high and low temperatures.
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The ReCon "Big Block" Wall System provides the look, size, and durability of massive, natural stone and is available through CONTECH Earth Stabilization Solutions, Inc. (ESS). The ReCon system permits walls as high as 12 feet without geogrid reinforcement and significantly taller walls by incorporating geogrid, setback, or tiers. ReCon features a tapered block design and a tongue-and-groove lock placement system, which does not require mortar or pins. The block’s natural granite stone textured face can be enhanced with a stain that is applied after construction. CONTECH ESS is one of four operating divisions of CONTECH Construction Products Inc.
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According to Foresight Products, LLC, when constructing a segmental retaining wall and excavation for the required grid length is not possible or practical, the Manta Ray earth anchor system may be the solution. Manta Ray tieback anchors are driven into the soil with no excavation. They can also be installed through old walls, under foundations, and around trees or other landscaping. The anchors are then attached to a short grid section behind the wall. Anchors for mid-wall/multiple rows are easily installed. Each anchor is individually proof tested during the installation process to ensure that the required capacity is met.
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Hanes Geo Components’ TerraCell cellular confinement system used in conjunction with TerraGrid geogrids can provide an engineered "green" solution to projects, according to the company. TerraCell retaining walls are versatile, cost effective, easy to install, as well as an esthetically pleasing alternative to concrete walls.
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Hilfiker Retaining Walls, a family-owned business in operation since 1902, produces a full line of retaining wall systems that have been used in projects across the globe. According to the company, the support it provides before, during, and after order will exceed your expectations: The owners are hands-on; it provides on-site technical assistance to aid in wall start-up; and its office is managed by helpful employees who provide prompt, friendly support. Request more information

According to Keystone Retaining Wall Systems, Inc., the forward-thinking design of its Keystone 133Elite provides superior aesthetics with increased efficiency for large wall applications. Its 8-inch by 24-inch face dimension creates a larger-scale look, aesthetically matching the larger wall look and feel, while reducing the number of units required to complete the job. In addition to conventional textures, Keystone’s StoneArt embossing technology can produce units with specially designed natural textures. Keystone is a subsidiary of CONTECH Earth Stabilization Solutions Inc.
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LOCK+LOAD Retaining Walls, Inc.’s modular cantilever design and ease of construction along with its attractive "quarried stone" appearance create an optimum fascia for MSE retaining walls, according to the company. Its self-anchoring components allow for consistent compaction of the backfill so that paving, fences, and barriers can be constructed adjacent to the wall face. Panels do not stack and are independently anchored into the reinforced soil mass by the counterfort, providing a unique flexibility that ensures durability even during seismic events. LOCK+LOAD’s components are made from 5500psi (40 Mpa) fiber and steel-reinforced concrete and simply lock together, providing freeze-thaw and salt scaling performance to maintain the appearance for the life of the structure.
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The Neel Company offers steel-reinforced precast concrete retaining walls and engineering support for municipal, highway, and railroad design requirements. The T-WALL Retaining Wall System is an all-concrete system with no separate soil reinforcements to attach. The units comprised of a monolithic precast face and perpendicular stem are easily installed and backfilled with a select granular fill. The stem length varies depending on the height and loads on the wall. T-WALL is designed in accordance with AASHTO and AREMA design codes and is manufactured by state DOT- and NPCA-certified producers throughout North America. According to the company, it is an excellent substitute for C.I.P. designs.
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ReCon Wall Systems, Inc., provides a wide range of large scale (1,000 to 3,000 pounds each), wet-cast retaining wall blocks that provide engineered solutions for both routine and complex site-grading challenges. Tall, unreinforced gravity walls (ranging from 10 to 16 feet) can be the answer for a "cut wall" in close proximity to property lines, existing utilities, or trees, according to the company. The durability of wet-cast concrete is value-added in applications in or near water or road salt spray zones.
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Risi Stone Systems boasts a wide range of retaining wall products that are suitable for erosion control and demanding structural applications, as well as landscaping and garden situations. According to the company, all of its systems are solid, high-strength concrete, and require no fasteners or mortar to create an effective and durable retaining wall. Its modular units are self-aligning and self-sloping, so construction is faster and easier.
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According to VERSA-LOK Retaining Wall Systems, its Standard with the vintage weathered texture brings a rustic look to any landscape and blends in beautifully with the surrounding environment. Retaining walls, stairs, and bridges are all possible with VERSA-LOK Standard, the most versatile retaining wall system in the industry, according to the company. Its solid, top-pinning construction offers strength and design flexibility. There are no hollow cores to fill and specialty pieces are not required. It is also available in traditional split-face texture.
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