Retaining wall : Types and Applications

What is retaining wall? Types of retaining wall, applications of retaining wall, weep holes

Retaining wall

Retaining wall is the wall structure which is constructed to hold, or retain or prevent the sliding of nearby soil.

Highway road projects or rail projects required much more construction of the retaining wall to prevention of the sloped soil sliding.

Construction of the retaining wall can be done by both cast-in-situ and pre-cast method.   

Depending upon the location or function, different types of retaining wall can be used.

Following are the types of retaining wall which is used in various location.  

Types of retaining wall

Cantilever retaining wall

The height of cantilever retaining wall is generally taken as 3-10 meters and the width of the base is taken as 0.5 to 0.8 times the height of the wall.

It is the inverted T and works based on the principle of leverage. It contains thin stem and base. It can be casted on site or it can be borrowed from the manufacturing unit.

Cantilever retaining wall

Gravity retaining wall

Gravity retaining wall constructed with the stone masonry or the plain concrete. Gravity retaining wall is stable with its own weight.

The width of the base is 0.5-0.7 times the height of the wall.

If the required height of the wall is high, then gravity wall is not economical.

This type of wall is not application for the pile foundation.

Gravity retaining wall

Semi-gravity retaining wall

When the small number of reinforcements are required, then semi-gravity types of retaining wall are generally used.

Counterfort retaining wall

The counter fort retaining wall is similar to that cantilever type of retaining wall except in counterfort retaining wall, the counterfort or concrete web is provided.

The concrete web or the counterforts are provided along with the length of the wall to provide the additional stability to the wall.

This type of wall is generally used when the required height is high.

The height is more than 10 m and the base is taken as 0.5-0.7 times the height.

This type of wall can be applicable in the pile foundation but the construction is difficult.

Buttress retaining wall

Buttress retaining wall is same as counterfort except, the concrete webs are provide at the opposite face of the wall (at the backfill side)

Applications of retaining wall

  • For the prevention of the soil erosion
  • To retain the soil nearby, Culvert, Underpass, Bridge, etc.
  • To provide the stability in sloped soil
  • Landscaping
  • Building basement
  • Embankments (Gabion wall)
  • Various structure where soil retention is required

Weep holes

Weep holes are provided in retaining wall because allowing water to pass from soil through retaining wall. In short, for proper drainage system.

Sometimes additional pipes are provided for the extra drainage purpose.

Also, the hydrostatic pressure acting due to water will be reduced if the weep holes are provided in the retaining wall. 


Retaining wall is mainly used based on the type of soil to be retained and suitable site condition. People who works in infrastructure sector should have good knowledge about retaining wall. any query related to this article will be acceptable in the comment section or in mail. 


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