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How Much Does a Retaining Wall Cost?

Author: Brian Eckert

Retaining Wall Prices

A retaining wall is built to help stem the erosion of property, to protect a yard from rising water, or to help create a flat space on a sloped piece of land. However, it does not have to be an eyesore because it’s functional. Perhaps you are not only looking for purpose from your retaining wall but also an added attractive element to your landscape. You can certainly achieve both.

Retaining walls can be built using materials such as wood, stone, interlocking blocks, bricks, or poured concrete. Each comes with its own benefits and associated costs. Textured retaining wall blocks are available in different colors that can brighten any yard. Different types of colored stones can be used to create patterns in the wall. A wood retaining wall such as Cyprus, mahogany, or redwood brings a classic look to an otherwise boring landscape.

The following information will help you decide which look is right for you based on your budget:

Landscape Retainer Wall Costs

Retaining wall costs will vary widely with the type of landscape you currently have, the use of your retaining wall, and the material you choose to build a retaining wall with.

  • Wooden retaining walls typically have the highest materials cost but the lowest installation costs.
  • Concrete has the highest installation cost but the lowest materials cost.
  • Interlocking block retaining walls are typically middle-of-the-road in both materials and installation costs, depending on whether or not you use a mortar base or a mortarless wall.
  • A stone retaining wall varies in price due to the large amount of variables associated with it. Most companies will not give you a total estimate for the job because it is almost impossible to accurately estimate the man hours involved with the labor. They usually give you an hourly rate that they charge instead. Most companies charge between $30 and $45 per man hour to build a stone retaining wall.

Stone Retaining Wall Prices

Stone retaining wall costs typically start around $5 to $10 per surface square foot of wall. They can reach higher if a specific type of stone is used. You can save money on materials for a stone wall by finding as many stones as you can to build your stone retaining wall yourself, or you can leave it up to the contractor to supply the materials.

Wood Retaining Wall Prices

Wooden retaining walls start at around $20 per square foot including materials and installation if using cost-effective pressure treated lumber. Hardwoods such as redwood, Cyprus or mahogany will raise the price over $30 per surface square foot but add an element of beauty to your wall. Railroad ties are the most commonly used wood for a retaining wall, and prices for this type of wall cost between $25 and $30 per square foot of wall. Untreated or soft woods are not recommended for retaining wall construction due to their susceptibility to rot and water damage.

Concrete Retaining Wall Prices

Concrete retaining wall prices start around $30 per square foot including materials and installation and can go as high as $45 to $50 per square foot depending on how much prep work is involved in building the forms. Walls higher than four feet typically require a different type of form which will raise the cost. A steep slope will require extra work to install the forms, and therefore a higher installation cost. A quick inspection of the site will give the contractor a good estimate of the cost.

Block Retaining Wall Prices

Interlocking block retaining walls give you the most versatility in the color and the look of your wall. They also allow you to forego mortar, which will aid in the repairing of the wall if need be. The blocks interlock with each other in such a way that an adhesive is not necessary. The only drawback to this type of retaining wall is the lack of lateral strength it has. If too much water or extra pressure is exerted on the wall, it could fail in spots. Expect to pay between $15 and $30 per square foot of wall, depending on the style and strength of block you choose. More expensive blocks can hold back more weight and can be stacked higher than cheaper blocks.

Brick Retaining Wall Prices

Brick is a very popular material for a retaining wall. It comes in a variety of shapes, size, and color. Reds, grays, and light browns seem to look the best in the landscape setting; earth colors. Depending on the type of brick you purchase, it could cost upwards of $70 to $90 per square foot. It’s not cheap, but brick does look amazing.

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