119 Ruth Hill Road Worthington, PA 16262
Phone:  724-297-3200     Fax: 724-297-3932

Retaining Wall FAQs

HOW DO I CHOOSE A PRODUCT?

The overall height, site geometry, slopes and surcharges above and behind your wall should all be taken into account and will affect your product decision, so complete all of the measurements to determine the wall geometry, height and square footage (see the Estimator).

In many cases, for non-structural landscape walls three feet or less, the Rear Lip Systems provides an easy “one unit does it all” method of constructing walls. An integral rear lip is molded into every block unit. The lip automatically guides each new course, ensuring proper alignment and precise set-back. Keep in mind these are considered landscape walls and should not be used for critical structures. (see Rear Lip Systems).

The Keystone Pinned System Products allow for taller, more critical walls and offer  the choice of different set-back options depending on pin placement. The alignment pins also provide additional strength at the wall face and positive connection with geo-grid, which allows proper pre-tensioning and resistance. The defined alignment established by the pins delivers a more precise wall face pattern that is maintained over the entire wall (see Compac III Victorian / Verazzo). Also, the Country Manor and Country Manor Stonegate products provide an old world architectural finish in a Pinned System (see Country Manor & Country Manor Stonegate).

HOW DO I ESTIMATE HOW MANY UNITS I NEED?

Refer to Estimating to calculate your wall area, and take these measurements to your Local Authorized Architectural Block Dealer or Retaining Wall & Paving Stone Dealer.

WHAT IS A GRAVITY WALL STRUCTURE?

Any coherent structure that solely utilizes its mass and geometry to resist the earth pressures acting upon it. All landscaping wall products and structural wall units not utilizing soil reinforcement are considered gravity walls by definition. Gravity wall structures rely on weight, depth and wall batter to achieve stability. Larger units with more depth provide greater stability than smaller units with less depth.

WHAT IS A REINFORCED SOIL WALL STRUCTURE?

Composite structures which utilize wall units and geo-grid to create a stable mass that can be designed and constructed to much greater heights than simple gravity walls. Reinforced soil wall structures combine the mass of the composite structure with the strength of the geo-grid to resist external earth pressures.

WHY DO SOME WALLS NEED REINFORCEMENT?

Geo-grid creates a stable mass that allows walls to be designed and constructed to much greater heights than simple gravity walls because it stabilizes the soil behind the wall face. Geo-grid is used to impart tensile strength into soil structures, allowing such structures to be built taller and steeper than the soil alone would allow, or for building on soils with bearing capacities insufficient for supporting a proposed structure. Geo-grid can be thought of as performing in the soil in much the same way that reinforcing steel bars perform in the concrete. The amount of geo-grid required in a retaining wall structure, and the spacing of layers of geo-grid in the retaining wall structure, must all be determined by the specific design considerations (wall height, surcharge loadings, soil, etc.) of the individual project (see Reinforcement).

HOW HIGH CAN WALLS BE BUILT WITHOUT THE USE OF GEO-GRID?

The various Keystone retaining wall systems can be constructed between two-feet and three-feet high (in ideal conditions) depending on the type of unit, soil conditions, site geometry, amount of batter used and surcharge on top of wall. Contact The Bauer Co, to determine if your project can be built without the need for geo-grid. As a typical rule of thumb if your wall is 3’ or higher geo-grid will likely be required to achieve stability.

ARE CONCRETE FOOTINGS EVER NECESSARY OR REQUIRED?

In most cases, Keystone walls can be built directly on six to eight inches of well-compacted granular base. However, there may be instances to consider the use of a concrete leveling pad. Examples of this are: applications near water, a taller wall built on soft subsoils, or a wall that is very long (by using concrete footing, the contractor can speed up the installation process).

WHAT IS THE BEST MATERIAL ON WHICH TO BUILD THE WALL?

Angular crushed stone (1/2-inch to 3/4-inch), crushed gravel or limestone are best for the base pad.

WHAT MATERIALS SHOULD BE USED AS BACKFILL?

A clean, well-draining granular fill, like 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch angular crushed stone, is the most effective. Do not use pea gravel, rounded aggregates, sand, excavated surface vegetation or other unsuitable soil types.

HOW WILL THE DESIGN OF THE WALL AFFECT OR CORRECT THE DRAINAGE FLOW PATTERNS OF MY SITE?

Since the effects of water and overall drainage flow patterns represent the most common source of problems for retaining walls, it is critical that the contractor evaluates the impact that the property drainage flow patterns will have on the wall, and the effect that the drainage flow pattern of the newly constructed wall will, in turn, have on the site.

HOW DO SOIL PROPERTIES AFFECT THE DESIGN OF THE WALL?

The soil’s shear strength (angle of internal friction and cohesion and moist soil weight) determines the design characteristics of the soils for use within the wall structure. The more granular the soils (the higher the friction angle and drainage capability) the more efficient the wall design and soils reinforcement will be. Granular soils can be easily compacted, resulting in a superior structure performance.

What is the Product Warranty?

Each retaining wall unit manufactured by The Bauer Company, Inc. comes with a residential Limited Lifetime Warranty to the original purchaser. All dry cast retaining wall products meet or exceed ASTM C-1372 specifications.

If a product installed according to the manufacturers recommendations deteriorates due to natural causes, The Bauer Company, Inc. will replace such units without cost to the original purchaser providing proof of purchase (original receipt and pallet ID tag) Due to natural weathering of concrete products color matching of any replacement material cannot be guaranteed. The Bauer Company, Inc. disclaims any warranty with regard to color, color consistency, or surface composition due to natural variations in raw materials. Efflorescence, a common whitish deposit found on many concrete products occurs naturally and no warranty or liability is expressed or implied for this condition.

The exposed face of retaining wall units can become stained due to mold, dirt or mineral deposits in the backfill soil. Cleaners and sealers are available to address these conditions.

This warranty shall not apply to any units that are damaged, defective, or fail to meet the warranty standard due to improper installation, chemical contact, structural design, or excessive and unforeseen site conditions beyond The Bauer Company, Inc. control. The Bauer Company, Inc. responsibility is limited to its products only, any installation costs or freight associated with replacement material is not covered by this warranty and is the responsibility of the property owner.

The above warranty is the exclusive limited product warranty. All other warranties, expressed or implied, including warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular application, are disclaimed.

Please see www.nicolock.com for Nicolock product warranty.

The above warranty is the exclusive limited product warranty. All other warranties, expressed or implied, including warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, are disclaimed.

WILL MY LOCAL BUILDING OFFICIAL REQUIRE A DESIGN PREPARED BY AN ENGINEER?

The Uniform Building Code Section 106.2 requires a building permit for earth retaining structures over four feet high. However some municipalities may require drawings for walls as low as three feet. Many local building officials require a design prepared by an engineer. However, in more rural locations there may be no provisions for engineered design. It is the responsibility of the property owner to confirm what is required for their project prior to construction.

WHAT DO I NEED TO PREPARE BEFORE I EXCAVATE?

Check with your local utility companies to make sure there are no underground pipes or cables running through the site. Your state’s One Call system can arrange to have all of your utility lines marked.