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Setting the base couse for a wall

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by R.M Hanson, Jun 17, 2007.

  1. R.M Hanson

    R.M Hanson LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    I've been building retaining wall for almost 10 years, and there has got to be a better way. I was wondering if any of you guys had any tricks or tips for making the base course of a wall easier to install. I've tried a few different ways, but all I can say is that it's a time consuming, slow, and stressfull process. Right now the system I use is pretty old school. I start by excavating the area with either a mini-ex or the skid, and lay down a base of compacted stone, using a thin layer of some stone dust for setting the blocks on. I use stringlines to keep the wall straight, and 3 different sizes of carpenters levels to make sure my blocks are all level. It seems like I spend most of my time adding or subtracting tiny amounts of base material, moving the blocks in and out several times, and swatting the heck out of the blocks with a big deadblow hammer. It's a very slow frustrating, process and It's about enough to make me want to quit, but my walls always turn out nice, so it's a proven system. Any ideas to help speed up the process or to make life easier would be greatly appreciated.
  2. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,085

    I think that's the tried & true method. It's better to take your time & have it perfect than to rush through it & end up w/ a less than par wall & a dissatisfied customer.
  3. New Heights

    New Heights LawnSite Member
    Messages: 186

    Thats the same way I do it. I take my time and it allways comes out perfect. Try training your guys to do it so you dont have to, that is what im working on.
  4. GreenN'Clean

    GreenN'Clean LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,512

    I agree its better to take your time and do it the right way then try to fly through just to finish the job.
  5. zedosix

    zedosix LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,665

    I grade the entire area for the base course then lay the blocks in one shot.
  6. greg1

    greg1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 139

    OK, sounds to me like you got it knocked. I've done hundreds of block wall projects since decorative block came out in the 80's. Some days you can lay 200' of base and some days you can lay 30'. It's frustrating for sure. For myself i get my base (3/4" clean) as close as possible, then i set down a skim coat of 3/8's clean. set the block down and drive her home with a commercial tire hammer :hammerhead: (rubber side of course). Check her every which way to sunday with a variety of levels and eye f#*k her to death on the radius. If she's off the slightest, rip her out and do it again.
  7. ChampionLS

    ChampionLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,066

    It's very very simple. Excavate 6" wider than the block in both front and back for your base course of block. Excavate down 6" below the base course of block for your Aggregate base. Wrap the excavation with suitable geotextile fabric and install 2A type modified stone and compact. To set the grade for your blocks easily, screed rails of 1/2" pvc pipe can be placed in parallel close to the outside edges, and leveled off with a laser or transit. Sand or screenings can be applied over the pipe and screeded off easily to make a wide leveling pad the entire length of your wall. Simply lay the blocks on the pad end to end and your done. The hollow blocks below grade should be filled with 2a modified stone. At grade level, a drain pipe needs to be placed behind the wall and routed to daylight. Backfill at this point should be 2B clean stone inside all hollow blocks and 1' behind the wall. When reaching the top, end your drain field before the last course. Filter fabric may or may not be necessary between the drain stone and infill soils, but definitely needs be placed over the aggregate after the last course. Finish with a cap and grade.
  8. neversatisfiedj

    neversatisfiedj LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,028

    Stone screed ?
  9. iowa

    iowa LawnSite Senior Member
    from NW IA
    Messages: 305

    I use 2x6's screeds for straight walls and masonite on curves. Top half inch or so is stone dust to get perfection. Level the screeds with the laser and blaze through!!
  10. LindblomRJ

    LindblomRJ LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,570

    Must be an old concrete guy?

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