For those in need of a retaining wall, you're here to know how much it's going to cost.
Retaining walls are built to hold back an embankment of soil from a lower area. They control erosion, create flat areas for use, and can be made from masonry, wood, or stone.
You can expect to pay around $19 per square foot on a tighter budget. For those with a higher budget, expect to pay closer to $50 per square foot. On average, most people spend about $23 per square foot on their retaining wall.
Here are some of the main factors affecting the price:
At Stone Center, we're seeing a lot of people asking "how much do stone retaining walls cost?" among other questions. Let's get into the material types.
Not only do you have to pay for the labor of building a retaining wall, but the concrete, stone, steel, and other materials are also very costly.
The table below delineates the total cost of popular retaining wall materials by square feet.
Limestone, slate, keystone, and fieldstone all fall under the category of stone retaining walls. We noticed most people were interested in the cost of limestone retaining wall blocks. But depending on the type of stone, you can expect to pay anywhere from $13 to $45 per square foot. And for those wondering about the cost of natural stone retaining wall blocks, it's pricey. You can expect to pay up to $200 per square foot, meaning the cost of stone retaining wall blocks is over 10x the price of concrete blocks.
Vinyl is a popular material for retaining walls because it's cheap, durable, and easy to install. However, vinyl can be somewhat of a one-note product when it comes to design versatility. But it's priced at around $10 to $15 per square foot.
Railroad ties are typically used when you want to build a very low retaining wall with a rustic, aged look. Railroad ties are made out of recycled wood and are very durable, weather-resistant, and long-lasting. They're also less expensive than the average cost of stone retaining walls, but they require more care to avoid decay. It's priced on average around $25 to $30 per square foot.
Wood retaining walls are one of the most popular types for homeowners and landscapers because they provide a natural look at an affordable price ranging from $15 to $30 per square foot. You can find wooden retaining wall materials in many different species, shapes, textures, and finishes.
Brick retaining walls are popular among homeowners in warmer climates because they tend to hold up better than most other materials. Brick can be easily painted or stained to match the exterior of your home, as well. It's priced on average around $20 to $25 per square foot.
Rammed earth is a unique type of retaining wall which uses a mixture of clay and sand to create an extremely strong, long-lasting material. This material can be used for all sorts of landscape projects, including exterior walls and fences. It ranges from $20 to $25 per square foot.
Gabions are wire mesh boxes filled with rocks that can be used to create retaining walls. They're typically fairly inexpensive and easy to install. Gabion walls typically cost around $10 to $40 per square foot.
Concrete retaining walls are the most popular option for homeowners for their durability and flexibility. Concrete retaining walls on average cost $30 to $50 per square foot.
I-beams are an engineering marvel and are a great way to create a retaining wall when you're working with a heavy load. They are typically seen as an option only when you're dealing with extremely heavy loads and need to create a very stable wall. On average, I-beam retaining walls cost $40 to $90 per square foot.
Steel retaining walls are a great option for those who want to create an extremely durable and long-lasting retaining wall. Steel retaining, depending on the type of wall, typically costs around $15 to $150 per square foot.
When you need a retaining wall that's incredibly strong, sheet piling is the way to go. This material can create very sturdy walls in areas where the soil is very loose or eroding. At $15 to $50 per square foot, sheet piling is relatively affordable and can be used in a variety of different landscaping projects.
Cinder block walls are durable and customizable, but they can be fairly expensive. They're typically priced between $20 and $35 per square foot depending on the size and style of wall you need. This material is a great option for those looking to create a long-lasting, low-maintenance retaining wall.
Stone Center can help find a custom solution for landscape wall stone for retaining walls in Ohio based on your unique needs.
To compare the cost of different materials for your retaining wall, you can use square footage. To find the total square footage, just multiply the length of the wall by its height.
As the height increases, so does the cost of the large stone retaining walls. This is especially true when the wall reaches heights that require permits and inspections.
For instance, a retaining wall measuring 50 feet long and two feet high differs from another that is 20 feet long but five feet high. Even though both stand at 100 square footage, the former is so low that any type of construction material, even pressure-treated lumber, can suffice.
The second wall necessitates sturdier materials, for example, big retaining wall blocks, and might even demand design plans reviewed by an engineer specializing in structures.
The price of a retaining wall depends on two things: where it's located and how much support it needs. No two walls are alike, so before you can accurately compare costs, you need to understand the purpose of your wall and make sure it will be able to withstand the required amount of force. Here are common stone retaining wall costs per square foot:
In addition to the cost of materials, you also need to take into account the hourly cost of labor when budgeting for a retaining wall. The average contractor will charge anywhere from $50-$75 per hour. If your project requires consulting with a structural engineer, be prepared to pay between $100-$200 additional dollars per hour.
Constructing safe and eye-catching rock walls is an art form that generally requires special training, so it's better to hire experienced workers for the job. Just because the block retaining wall cost will be higher doesn't mean you won't be getting a great deal on quality work – in the end, it's worth paying for peace of mind.
If you want to add granite, brick, or stone veneer to an existing retaining wall, expect to pay $10-$45 per square foot in addition. Stone veneer retaining wall cost is usually slightly higher, as is brick veneer. Veneer-coated walls typically have concrete cinder-block walls forming their base. Adding a design to existing walls using stamped concrete usually costs $5 to $15 per square foot.
In order to build a retaining wall, the land needs to be excavated and leveled first. The cost of clearing land can vary depending on the location, condition of the land, and size of the construction site (anywhere between $500-$1,000). The price for clearing rough land starts at $1,500 and can go up to $3,000 per acre.
Tree removal generally falls between $300 and $700 per tree. Land grading charges start at $0.40 per square foot but can be as high as $2. While the cost of natural stone retaining walls (one of our favorites) is generally higher, it's certainly worth it for the beautiful and long-lasting results.
The purpose of a retaining wall is to end erosion and allow better drainage, so its design must be well-planned.
Excavating to fix drainage problems typically costs $60-$70 per linear foot. The price to destroy the current wall ranges from $20-$30 per square foot, and that's not even factoring in adding drainage or constructing the new wall.
Now that you know the cost of materials, labor, and site preparation, you need to consider additional factors that may increase or decrease your overall price.
The average lifespan of a retaining wall is 50 to 100 years, though this varies depending on the material, installation quality, soil condition, and maintenance frequency. Just know that wood vs stone retaining wall cost per square foot is quite different, so you should think carefully about what materials will best meet your needs.
If you need to rebuild or replace your existing wall, it will cost $30 to $70 per square foot. Just removing the old one costs $10-$20 less per square foot. Debris disposal is an extra charge of between $125 - 225 per cubic yard.
The cost to repair a retaining wall averages $200-$1,000, depending on the size and type of wall, as well as the severity of the damage. Older walls with significant damage often require replacing, which involves excavation work.
The cost to install stone retaining wall can range from $20-$100 per square foot for those doing it themselves. Although shorter and smaller retaining walls made from dry stacked stone or concrete blocks can make for a fun DIY project, taller walls require reinforcement and should not be built by someone without the proper knowledge or experience.
Demolishing and removing materials can get expensive and a structural engineer is sometimes required by law. But at minimum, you should check out our DIY tips on the subject before tackling anything yourself.
There are several ways that you can save on the cost of a stone retaining wall while still getting the best quality materials and installation.
Now that you know more about the cost of a retaining wall, you can make an informed decision about whether to hire a professional or tackle the project yourself. Whatever option you choose, be sure to get plenty of estimates from reputable contractors and do your research on the best materials for your needs.
As the best natural stone supplier in Ohio, Stone Center has years of experience helping homeowners and landscapers install durable, beautiful retaining walls at affordable prices. Contact us today to learn more.