CONCRETE BLOCK VS. POURED CONCRETE RETAINING WALLS
The choice of poured concrete vs. block for walls is more a matter of esthetics and builder preference than durability. Solid bricks, interlocking blocks, hollow (cinder) blocks and poured concrete are all made of essentially the same ingredients—Portland cement, sand and aggregate. The main difference is the aggregate. Blocks contain fine aggregate—pea size or smaller—while poured concrete can have gravel as large as ¾ “.
Poured concrete can be reinforced with rebar and mesh and hollow blocks can be filled and reinforced for extra strength and greater height, but properly designed and built, each type of wall has its place in landscaping and construction. Bricks and some blocks can look fine on their own, with textures that are pleasing to the eye. Poured concrete and cinder blocks can look unfinished unless they’re stuccoed or painted.
The keys to a top-quality wall are preparation and technique. All need a good foundation to prevent drop and heave and a good drainage system to relieve hydrostatic pressure. Tiebacks are important to prevent blow-out, and extra tiebacks are called for if a car or structure will be placed near the wall.
The drainage system and foundation need to take frost heave into account in cold climates. The wall should rest on a gravel base buried below the frost line. In areas with deep frost, build the below-grade wall with open-cavity block to add extra room for soil expansion for heave protection.
While all these materials are concrete products, the blades and bits for cutting and coring them are different. For a poured or cinder block wall, a general purpose diamond blade works fine. For pavers with a higher psi, a high-quality blade cuts better and lasts longer.
A 16” blade will cut through most segmented retaining wall (SRW) blocks in a single pass, saving time and making neater cuts. A 14” blade is easier to use and a better choice for pavers, which aren’t as thick as blocks. A 6” diamond blade on a grinder is handy for cutting scoring lines for larger cut-off blades and cutting tight curves.
Use core drilling bits to cut holes for utilities or drainage. Soft brick and block can be cut with a dry bit; concrete, stone and other hard, dense materials call for a water-cooled bit.
Sophisticated landscaping is one of the fastest-growing items on homeowners’ must-have lists. Ace Cutting Equipment is your source for rugged, reliable concrete and masonry cutting equipment and supplies. Whatever your coring and cutting requirements may be, equipment and tools from Ace Cutting Equipment are your choice for top-quality results.
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