Are you one of the many homeowners out there that is fighting erosion issues and in desperate need of a retaining wall? Stuck trying to wrap your head around the different options and how they compare based on design, type, durability, and maybe more importantly... price? We are here to help. In this post we will break down the different options that are available to you, starting with the least expensive first.
If you were living in Tulsa about 20 plus years ago, you are probably very familiar with railroad tie retaining walls. Back then, they were one of the best or only available options for the homeowners dealing with erosion issues or significant slopes that were minimizing their usable yard space. While I do love a railroad tie retaining wall, having grown up building them from an early age with my father, they do have some significant cons when you compare them to some of the other options that have become available in recent years.
The largest con in my opinion, would be durability. While this option is the least expensive, they are made of natural wood that does breakdown over time due to the elements. If you have driven through some of the hillier neighborhoods around town, you will have noticed several of these in different states of disrepair. Most of those homes you pass probably had their wall installed by my father about 20 years ago and are now having to decide how they want to replace it again.
Overall, if you are in a jam and need an affordable option, then railroad ties might be for you. But, if you don't want to deal with replacing it again or going through this process in another 20 years, you might want to check out some of the other options available.
These walls started to pop-up all-over Tulsa around 2000. They are more durable than railroad ties, can be installed quickly, and allow you to customize the design with corners, curves, stairs, columns, multiple colors, and much more. While railroad ties can give you corners and stairs, I have yet to find one that will bend into a curve. That alone, started to change how we thought about retaining walls and allowed us to begin designing more for what you want to see in your yard vs what you must have for necessity.
Since they are more durable and are made of concrete, they are more expensive than railroad ties, but the actual cost might surprise you and still fit your need if you are on a budget. Make sure you ask for quotes on different options, so you can make the best decision for you. This is a wall that will be around for a long time, so it’s always best to ensure you are going to like it down the road.
When it comes to having a wall in your backyard that you will not mind looking at for the foreseeable future, this one ranks high on my list. Stone veneer walls are created and designed specifically for you and can vary based on the type of stone that you prefer. The veneer is placed over a solid wall underneath, so it will withstand almost anything and still be there after we are gone.
The beautiful patterns and designs that you get with a stone veneer wall are definitely a plus, but it does mean that the installation is more meticulous and not as fast as other options that are available to you. It also means that these walls are more expensive when compared to railroad ties or interlocking block. But really, can you put a price on the conversations you will have sitting in your backyard with your friends and family and admiring this pure work of art?
The last option that I am going to talk about is probably my favorite, limestone boulders. There is something special and inherently beautiful about a natural stone wall that just speaks to you and makes you stop and appreciate it.
These walls. like stone veneer, are more expensive, but they will last forever. You will never have to worry about replacing them or repairing a section. The durability is unmatched, but there are additional factors to consider when trying to control water flow or do any fancy designs. Not that these things can't be done, but it takes a professional installer who has experience designing with limestone to get you the best design for your money.
If you’ve made it this far, then you’re well on your way to determining the best retaining wall for you. The only thing left to do is call and get a few quotes regarding your project. Any contractor that you speak with should be happy to walk you through the differences in each type, and how it would effect the cost or design for your specific needs.
If you’re in the Tulsa area, feel free to give us a call and we will have Larry come out and get you a quote that we promise you won't be able to find anywhere else.