How long will a retaining wall made of poured concrete last?

Retaining walls are one of the structures that can highly benefit their owners. Not only can they lessen the occurrence of soil erosion and flooding, but they can also boost the value of a property if they are properly designed and built.

There are many materials that are used to install a retaining wall. One of the most popular materials is poured concrete, which is known for its reliability and appeal. However, are they worth the investment? In usual cases, how long would a retaining wall last?

Do retaining walls last forever?

Unfortunately, your retaining wall will not last forever. Like all things, good structures are just impossible to be in perfect shape in eternity.

However, when it was built with a good design, installed according to the recommended method, and equipped with a good drainage system, it can last for a very long time. In fact, many retaining walls can last from 50 to 100 years! Of course, its lifespan will depend on several things, such as its height, material, and the weight of the soil or water it needs to secure.

What type of retaining wall lasts the longest?

One of the factors that will highly determine how long the wall lasts is the material that has been used to construct it. There are many materials to choose from if you want to have a retaining wall installed. According to the Chicago Tribune, common material choices for retaining walls include “wood (pressure treated and on the scale of railroad ties), poured concrete, concrete block and proprietary precast blocks sold in different shapes, textures and colors”. (1)

To determine how long will it take for your walls to crumble, let us compare the different materials and see each of their pros and cons.

Wood and Timber

Wood or timber retaining walls are perfect for gardening and small landscaping projects. When carefully installed and maintained, they can last for 20 to 30 years. Unfortunately, they are susceptible to fire and water and may be the breeding ground for some insects.


Gabion retaining walls are good for areas that need strong support and easy installation. If properly maintained, gabion can last for 50 to 100 years, though its wires may need to be changed once in a while. Unfortunately, many owners may find gabion to be unappealing due to its cage-like appearance.


Brick retaining walls are nice to look at and can easily last for 50 to 100 years. Unfortunately, brick walls will not be best for building tall structures as they are quite heavy.


Stone retaining walls are extremely appealing and last for 50 to 100 years. Unfortunately, they can be very expensive to install.

Poured Concrete

Poured concrete retaining walls usually last for 50 to 100 years. Since there are several options for its design, many owners use it over stone as it could be less expensive while still being attractive.

Benefits of poured concrete

Now that you know the expected lifespan of the materials, you may be tempted to choose poured concrete for your retaining wall. Aside from its long lifespan, here are the other reasons why it would be best for your project:

Poured concrete is:

1.     Easy to maintain

Compared to other materials, using poured concrete is extremely easier to maintain in the long run. For most cases, it would be enough to have them cleaned and professionally inspected for cracks and design failure at least once a year.

Since they are low maintenance, a concrete retaining wall will most likely maintain its appeal even after a couple of years passes.

2.     Customizable

Concrete is usually gray, but that does not mean that you have to be stuck with a drab wall on your property. In fact, concrete retaining walls are very customizable and flexible when it comes to their design. If you want a stamped, stained, or vibrant wall, relay your preference to an expert contractor and you will definitely use it to boost your landscape design.

3.     Water and Fire Resistant

If we compare it to other materials that are weak when in contact with fire or water, poured concrete can certainly hold its own and is highly resistant to these elements. Because it is less porous, the material resists fire and water from wreaking havoc on its structure in the long run.

How do you make your retaining wall last longer?

If you are still planning to have one installed, here are some tips to make sure that your walls will give you a high return on investment (ROI).

It starts with the design

No matter what the material you choose, it would just be useless if your wall is incorrectly designed. Because of this, you should always do due diligence and look for contractors that have good reviews and finished projects to show you.

There are many types of retaining walls. Aside from the standard one which is a gravity wall, cantilever, anchored, and pile retaining walls may be the structure that you need in your property, especially if your area is on a slope or is highly prone to soil erosion. Because of this, your contractor may need to add forms, footing, and other reinforcement to make it last and resist preliminary failure.

Then the materials

After a good design has been made, the materials will be next to play. This is where the span of the wall will be considered. For example, if the wall exceeds a certain height, it may not be best to choose a heavy material such as natural stone. This is because it may fail in just a few months due to the excess weight it carries.

Although owners can choose the material, a professional contractor will explain the options to ensure that it is compatible with the design of the structure.

Finally, regular maintenance is the key

Every year, have your poured concrete retaining wall inspected by a professional. This is to make sure that there are no cracks and damage all over the structure. Once the contractor sees damage, you must have it repaired as soon as possible to prevent accidents or a more expensive repair cost in the future.

Get your concrete retaining wall started today!

Choosing poured concrete as the material for your retaining wall will certainly be a worthy investment.

If you want to get the best value for your time and money, you should get assistance from a team that is not afraid to get their hands dirty. Denver Retaining Wall Pros will ensure that your concrete wall is properly designed and installed to make it last a long time.

With our knowledge and experience, rest assured that your project will be worth every buck. Call us now and get your project started.


  1. Build a retaining wall that holds up | Chicago Tribune

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