Retaining Walls: Board Wall Qualities?


Old 07-09-00, 03:47 PM
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We are considering building a retaining wall about 3' in height. As far as attractiveness, ease of building, etc etc, we are leaning towards building a board wall. I wonder how well board walls stand up.

I see the following advantages:

1. Ease of building. After getting the posts set, I imagine it to be quite easy to finish the wall off. especially since I don't have to haul tons of bricks!

2. Cost. I haven't estimated total cost, but given that I plan an 3' section over 60 feet, and a 2 foot section (maybe 1.5) over about 100 feet, I figure this has got to be the cheapest.

3. Drainage...with proper board spacing (1/8" between boards at install, wood drying to about 1/4" inch spacing?) it will give essentially continual drainage along the length of the wall every 8-10 inches vertically.

Okay, now the downsides I can think of:

1. Strength. Although certainly good for a 2' wall, would a 3' wall be pushing the limits of this wall? (I'm planning 4' post spacing).

2. Durability. Even using redwood, or treated lumber, how long will it last? It's a fairly wet area (Not submerged, but there is a shaded wooded area that our backyard will drain over)

3. Treatment. How often, and what type of treatment might the wood need? Would I need to treat it like a deck and seal it, and so forth?

Thanks in advance for anyone with advice building these walls!

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Old 07-12-00, 06:19 PM
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Since we have built one I'll try part of this. Your major problem is where the soil, moisture, and wood make contact. "The back side". There is no way to treat it like a deck that I know of since you could only treat it once before installation. We used pressure treated posts in one area and posts with pressure treated plywood in a second area. Batter the wall 2"-3". As you already know don't try much over 3' in height. We still put in drainage. The moisture in the soil where it contacts the wood on the back side can still keep the wood swollen so we didn't feel confident depending on shrinkage to open up to allow drainage. Anybody else got any ideas?
Old 07-12-00, 06:33 PM
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We would backfill with gravel about 12" to help alleviate some of the wet ground contact...Not perfect, but it should help


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