There are a number of options available for achieving the style of retaining wall you’re after. Natural stone, concrete veneer and painted plaster are three of the most popular methods. Here we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each to help you decide which one suits the needs of your Warwick, NY backyard.
Natural stone can be used as a veneer for retaining walls, as well as provide the bulk of the structure in what is known as a boulder wall. Natural stone veneer allows you the look of natural stone retaining walls at a lower cost, especially with more expensive stone such as granite. It’s also a practical option for revamping your existing retaining walls, provided they’re structurally sound, and introducing the natural stone aesthetic to your outdoor spaces. Veneer is also a good option if you’re looking to use stone that is not strong enough to support the bracing structure of a retaining wall, such as travertine or marble.
Alternatively, a boulder wall makes use of whole stones or boulders. Often these are rounded and placed together using mortar. This style creates a timeworn rustic feel, reminiscent of old rural settings. Smaller natural stone blocks can be used in either regular or irregular arrangements. Natural stone is an excellent retaining walls option for homeowners looking for an authentic, earthy aesthetic and the rich texture of one of mankind’s oldest building materials.
The aesthetic options for retaining walls provided by concrete veneer is vast. Many concrete products mimic the look of natural stone and can provide a less expensive yet passable substitute that is both durable and easily maintained. Designs include stacked slate, cut flagstone, stone blocks, brick and larger slabs of various textures. Because veneer is a non-structural layer, the arrangement of shapes need not subscribe to natural laws, allowing for greater options as far as laying pattern is concerned. Concrete is more durable than many natural materials such as limestone, as well more traditional building materials such as brick. In many cases, concrete is also a more environmentally friendly option as there is less transportation involved in the production process. Concrete veneer is therefore a solid option for homeowners who are looking for a product that is both attractive and durable, but are also concerned about reducing costs or their carbon footprint.
A good quality exterior paint can last several years, and if you’re in the habit of having your exteriors painted every 4 to 7 years, retaining walls with a plaster and paint finish can be maintained alongside your other exterior surfaces without much extra hassle. The benefits of plastered retaining walls is that they provide a smooth, uniform texture that allows you the freedom of color that paint provides. On the other hand, painted plaster is nowhere near as durable as either natural stone or concrete veneer products. This is especially the case if the retaining wall design doesn’t include a capstone to protect the top surfaces of the wall from water that might pool along the horizontal planes, as this can often cause cracking. Another issue with painted plaster is that it is prone to damage from damp caused by improper drainage and moisture soaking into the wall from the soil. However, these issues can be limited by employing the services of a trusted and professional landscaping service.