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Proper Drainage Extends Service Life of Retaining Wall Blocks in Denver

ProCoat - April 24, 2016

Irrespective of why a retaining wall is to be installed, and no matter whether it is constructed using brick, concrete, timbers, stones, or wall blocks, Denver area walls face some environmental extremes. From managing the run-off of cloudbursts to dealing with snow loading and our three season freeze/thaw cycles, water is a constant threat to wall integrity. Brief or long, short or tall, a properly built retaining wall should incorporate drainage into its construction to maximize the durability of the installation.

At ProCoat Systems, we believe that the best retaining walls are made from block, like our Belgard line. Brick has to be mortared together. Concrete is continuous solid mass due to how it is installed, and if left as poured, is rather unattractive. Real stone is both expensive to acquire and requires expert fitting. Timbers rot no matter what they are treated with.

Wall blocks are the best choice for Denver. They not only can provide the visual beauty and the slope face contouring that makes them stable, by being dry stacked rather than mortared, wall blocks also allow for some passive drainage even if no other water management features are incorporated.

However, the best wall block constructed retaining walls in Denver incorporate active drainage features to increase their service longevity. Even the passive drainage of a block retaining wall can be overcome by sedimentation against the slope facing side of the structure, reducing any meaningful water outflow and over-stressing the design limits of the installation.

Managing Water Behind Your Wall Blocks in Denver

Using about twelve inches of clean crushed rock backfill covered by native soil behind the wall blocks is the most fundamental drainage step you can take. Sure, it’s a little more expensive than just compacting fill dirt behind the wall, but crushed stone will allow the wall to manage water effectively for years to come.

Adding properly located weep holes to the wall will also help to ensure that any soil infiltration of the backfill rock will not seriously hamper the wall’s ability to drain.

Finally, for dealing with cloudbursts and soggy earth from large snow melts, laying a perforated drain pipe at the base of the wall during construction will allow the wall to handle sudden and large water loads by diverting them at a manageable rate.

Whether you need the best selection of wall blocks in Denver, or just some expert advice, contact our field experts at ProCoat Systems today.

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