4 Ways To Reinforce Your Brick Retaining Wall Without Compromising Its Appearance

Posted on: 28 June 2016

From standard red to sandy brown or distinguished gray, bricks offer a lot of beauty and variety for outdoor building projects like a retaining wall. However, even the strongest mortar is unlikely to be enough to hold a soil retaining wall together since a basic 4-foot tall wall holds back multiple tons of weight when soil becomes saturated by water. Make sure your wall can handle the weight without changing how the exterior looks by picking at least one of these four reinforcement methods. 

Filling with Concrete

Standard bricks are designed as solid blocks, but choosing two or three-hole bricks gives you a chance to put the reinforcement power of concrete to good use. If the wall is constructed so that the holes line up to create vertical tubes that run from the top to the bottom of the wall, the masonry installer can pour concrete into those openings. Using high-strength concrete with fibers or chemicals in the mix allows you to design a retaining wall that can handle the weight with fewer layers of material.

Inserting Steel Rebar

Of course, concrete can still crack over time and lose its effectiveness as a reinforcement. For increased safety, most masonry installers recommend what's known as a cavity wall. Two separate layers of brick are built with a few inches between them. Steel rebar is hammered into the ground vertically in that cavity, then the opening is filled with a strong concrete-based grout mixture to create a solid core. The steel ensures the wall remains stable even if the mortar or bricks themselves start to crack.  

Relying on a Block Core

Can't afford to build two separate walls of brick just to fill in the core with a concrete mix? Try basing a retaining wall on modular concrete blocks instead. The retaining wall is built from pre-cast blocks that slot together and have openings for rebar reinforcement. Once the blocks are in place, the masonry contractor finishes up by attaching a layer of bricks with mortar for the look you want with a lower price. You can even use thin pieces of veneer to save even more on material costs.

Considering Advanced Meshes

Finally, consider a method that involves reinforcing the earth itself before the brick wall is added. Compacting the earth and installing a strong geotextile mesh has been shown to work well when it's combined with a brick wall. Since plain brick walls aren't the strongest possible masonry structure, working on the earth itself could reduce the amount of reinforcement needed in the wall. 

Contact a local outlet, such as Mara Restoration, Inc., for further assistance.