The 5 Main Types of Retaining Wall Systems

Retaining walls are relatively strong walls commonly used for construction and agriculture. These structures help retain soil by supporting soil to a slope. Aside from this, retaining walls can also define a property’s exterior areas. Their composition enables them to resist liquid pressure, lateral pressure, and support from other granular materials on the wall.


Construction companies use various retaining wall systems to attain different results. This post will show you the main types of retaining wall systems utilised in the construction industry.

1. Cantilevered Wall

First on this list is the cantilevered wall, which is made of a base slab and stem. A cantilevered wall has three options – prestressed concrete, reinforced concrete, and precast concrete. Cantilevered walls are only best for up to 10 meters high walls. If the wall is higher, cantilevered walls become a costly option.

As its name suggests, the weight on these walls is cantilevered to a structural footing. So, it can transform the horizontal pressure generated by the wall’s materials into vertical pressure transmitted to the ground. It also requires less concrete than other types of retaining walls.

2. Counterfort Wall

The counterfort wall or concrete web is quite similar to the cantilevered wall. The only difference is that it requires additional support on its back. For this reason, a counterfort wall is ideal for taller walls than a cantilevered wall.

3. Gravity Wall

Gravity walls rely on their mass to endure the pressure exerted by the materials behind them. For this reason, they are made with heavy materials like masonry units and stone. In construction, there are times when gravity walls are positioned leaning toward the material it needs to support increased overall stability. Meanwhile, shorter versions of these retaining walls sometimes incorporate loose stones with no binding material as the stones are heavy enough.

Below are some of the various types of gravity wall structures:

  • Large block wall
  • Hybrid wall
  • Crib retaining wall
  • Gabion mesh wall
  • Interlocking wall
  • Anchored wall
  • Piled wall

4. Anchored Wall

An anchored wall relies on cable rods driven sideways deep into the ground to support soil. The tip of these rods contains concrete to enhance the strength of the anchor. This retaining wall system is used in cases when there’s not enough space to install a retaining wall. It is also used when a small wall is needed.

5. Piled Wall

There are two forms of piled wall: concrete pile wall and sheet pile wall. A concrete pile wall is made by placing reinforced concrete piles next to one another. The depth at which the concrete piles are driven allows them to withstand the lateral earth pressure the soil behind them exerts. Meanwhile, a sheet piling wall is thin and can be made of vinyl, wood, or steel. This wall system is utilised when there’s not enough space to install a wall.


Before choosing a wall system for your construction project, check your site’s drainage requirements, soil type, nature of its slope, and the usual weather condition around the area. This information can help you choose a suitable retaining wall system that can maximise the functionality, appeal, and value of the property you’re working on.