Different types of retaining walls

There can be so many things to consider when you’re looking to install a new retaining wall into your home.  Color, style, material are all very important but we also need to consider the type of wall.

There are four main categories of retaining walls:

  • Gravity walls
  • Cantilever walls
  • Anchored walls
  • Reinforced soil or nailed walls

Each retaining type is made especially for certain applications more so than others.  Here at Bradford Retaining, we have decades of experience to know exactly what type of retaining wall would be right for your project. Below is an overview of the four categories of retaining walls.

Gravity walls

  • Crib Walls
  • Boulder/Rock Walls
  • Gabion Walls
  • Concrete Block Walls

Gravity walls is one of the original retaining wall types. Often made from concrete, rocks or other heavy materials, gravity walls rely on the weight of their own mass to resist pressures from the retained soil or material

Gravity walls should be a minimum of 50 to 60% as thick as the height of the retaining wall — sometimes larger if there is a slope or surcharge pressure on the retaining wall.

Gravity walls include concrete crib walls, rock walls, large precast concrete block walls and gabions. Gabion walls consist of a wire mesh cage, which is filled with roughly cut stone or other material.

Cantilever retaining walls

Cantilevered walls were once the most common type of taller retaining wall. Cantilevered retaining walls use much less material than a traditional gravity walls.

Cantilever walls are used to hold back a large amount of soil. They are made with steel-reinforced concrete that rest on slab foundation. Cantilever walls convert horizontal pressures from the soil to vertical pressures on the ground.

A cantilever retaining wall uses a T or L shaped footing – or poles – which are firmly inserted into the earth to provide a strong support.

Anchored retaining walls

An anchored retaining wall allows for a variety of “fronts” of retaining walls to be supported by anchors driven into the earth behind them and attached by cables or strips. These anchors are usually mechanically driven into the ground. You can use this method to provide additional support to any of the above options and is often used for structurally thinner walls or where higher loads are expected.

Sheet Piling Walls

Sheet piling walls are constructed with vertical planks that have been driven into the soil. Taller walls need to be supported with a tie-back anchor. This is a cable with an anchor attached that is planted in the soil behind the wall to help keep the wall vertical.


Every project is different so please get in touch with us today to discuss exactly what kind of retaining wall would work best for your situation.