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Rough cost comparison of stone vs. cement block retaining wall

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by drewguy, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. drewguy

    drewguy LawnSite Member
    from D.C.
    Posts: 41

    Experts-I'm looking at getting a short retaining wall--about 2-3 feet high, 50 feet long. It's going along a private alley so we can't see it (the alley is lower). Of course the look of stone is nicer, but if the savings are there I could go for cement block with parging I think.

    Any sense of what the savings are? Is this going to save 50% or more like 10% (or somewhere in between)? I know there are tons of variables, but what I'm really wondering is whether there's much savings to be had on labor and materials if I go with cement block.
  2. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 466

    there is no doubt whatsoever that you should be able to put In a block wall at half the cost or even less..
    You would be looking at installing 112 block at about $1.40 per block (material cost). With a foot wide footing at 6 in depth
    you only need about one cubic yard of concrete. Throw in 10-12 bags of mortar and 30 bucks worth of rebar and you are
    done with material costs. In the end you can always come back and veneer with stone or stucco if you want more appeal.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. 4Russl5

    4Russl5 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 160

    Build 1 of each and you will know. It is a night and day comparison. At least a 30% savings depending upon site conditions.....
  4. drewguy

    drewguy LawnSite Member
    from D.C.
    Posts: 41

    I am quite confident that is *not* the way to save money.
  5. 4Russl5

    4Russl5 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 160

    Gather the experience before you put pencil to paper- and tell your client what the cost will be. I am glad to see your are confident about that.
  6. 4 seasons lawn&land

    4 seasons lawn&land LawnSite Gold Member
    from NY
    Posts: 3,597

    he is the client. Definately block=cheaper! Boring... but cheaper. You said you wont see it? So its just for function? Why bother with stone then?
  7. drewguy

    drewguy LawnSite Member
    from D.C.
    Posts: 41

    Yeah, I am the client.

    We would see it, just not much. The alley/driveway is at the back of our lot (with another on the other side). So we'd see it coming up our driveway and when we got close to it (we could cap it with nicer stone). Our neighbor could see it, but he's planted a lot along the back of his lot (against alley) and has a wood fence, so it's only in theory (and his fence is ugly!).

    We'd bother with stone mainly because we have other stone retaining walls on the property and we'd want to match the look. But that's the struggle--do we care for something we won't see much. If it's a big savings, it's a lot harder to care.
  8. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,009

    i was thinking more like 400 blocks after you go down 3'. Then you need all the drainage gravel like 8-9 tons. More like a pallet of type S if you are bagging it. Footing would also need to be at least 6" fore and aft the block so more like 2'. If you want it to last you are solid filling it at least every 4' so more material for that. Still though it likely would be cheaper than a dry stack wall, unless you talking a boulder wall.
  9. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 466

    I was basing the block numbers on a two foot tall retaining wall. Are you saying you would submerge 3 feet of block subsurface putting the top of your footing at 36 inches below final grade? I think that is a bit of overkill for a 2 foot tall block retaining wall, but I agree with the drainage aspect of gravel and probably a corrugated pipe running the length of the wall and some weep holes if possibly.
  10. 2low4NH

    2low4NH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NH
    Posts: 1,891

    Nt sure about down south but up here we have to go down 3 feet to below frost. block walls are cheap but can get pricey very quick. tar on the front and back below grade 24" footing,poured cores with rebar every 24", Cap blocks 4" solids if using an 8" cored block. You could also do a block retaining wall with no footing good backfill and less work.

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