In this interview, we talk about Retaining Wallls…
So, Matt, let’s talk a little bit about retaining walls, for the less knowledgeable like me amongst us. What does a retaining wall do?
Well a retaining wall retains earth or soil or sloping blocks etc. So, retaining walls have become a large part of our business over the last 15 years because traditionally you’d just use brick or block walls.
Now you’ve got these link walls that don’t need any mortar or mechanical fixing, it’s just requires getting a flat base of crushed rock and basically like Lego, building these link walls or individual units on top of each other. They’ve got lugs so it helps you to position them and then basically once you’ve got that flat level base up they go.
Certainly, once they go over a metre high you need engineering drawings and designs and you need to put proper drainage & fill behind to drain any water behind the wall. Smaller walls can be anything from a garden edge which we have specific garden edging now, so you’re only doing a course high which some of them have a natural impression looking surface so it looks like a bit of stone and then you’ve got your traditional, what we call now traditional retaining wall blocks that are like a rock face block.
Some have a cap on top, so you can sit on them and use as seating areas. We’ve got them that are totally vertical now, as many used to be set back. Now they can go straight up vertically.
We now have many that come in a smooth finish, because people were over the same same rock face blocks, so there are now a lot of changes in the face of the retaining wall blocks. We’ve got the smooth face, again interlocking so there’s nothing required with mortar.
You just fill the middle of them with crushed rock, just depending on how big the wall is to hold them in place and then you’ve got the Eco Block from Island Block in the retaining wall too with the glass shimmer look in a smooth face or a rock face as well.
So, there’s a lot of variations that you can choose from; size, both in face size and in thickness based on the size of the wall you need.
And years ago, a lot of people used to use the old railway sleepers as well, and they’ve been replaced to a certain extent by concrete of the same sort of size?
Yes, so sleepers you’re still in the 2 metre to 2.4 metre long, 75mm to 100mm thick with steel I beams and you basically build the walls up inside the steel beam. There are a lot of different impressions on the face now as well, so not just a smooth grey concrete look, you can actually get a timber look, you can get a rock face look, you can get a stone look.
Again, based on the engineering but with your steel beams you can basically build them pretty high. So, we’ve got them and then we’ve got a couple of new product’s we’re working on at the moment which have got a real stone face glued to the front of them. Again, there’s no mortar, it’s just locking them in together and you can build fences, walls, barbecue areas, alfresco areas, seating areas.
A lot of new looks, profiles and again, just making it easier and quicker and that’s what these days a lot more of its about trying to make it quicker to install, but still with the longevity of the product.
People do use them for decorative purposes too where they’re not actually holding earth back, they’re there to get a bit of dimension in the garden or a bit of a look around a pool or something like that?
Yes, absolutely, so there are a lot of products now that you can actually build back to back walls as well so they can be free standing which allows you to do a lot more than you could before.
So, early days of retaining walls you could really only do straight walls, 90-degree angles. Now you’ve got corner blocks and you’ve got a lot of accessories that go with it; circles for fire pits and the like, all sorts of things that make it a lot easier for you to use. A very much a larger range than ever before.
And I suppose you can create zones in your backyard, a bit like there’s a room for your barbeque and then there’s a room for the swimming pool and a room for etc. as well?
Well, you’ve heard a little bit about retaining walls and if you’ve got a spot where you’d like to create a bit of dimension or you need to hold some dirt back, you know where to go and that’s to the website; melbournebrick.com.au and if you’ve got any questions ask one of trained Melbourne Brick staff for help.