Breathe New Life Into An Old Concrete Retaining Wall: Tips And Ideas

Posted on: 18 March 2015

An old concrete retaining wall can be a vital part of your landscape. Whether it's a purely decorative element for adding height in the garden, or a vital need to help hold a terrace in place. There's no reason to live with an old or crumbling wall. Often, you can save some cash by repairing and refinishing the wall instead of replacing it.

Fix the Damage

Some cracking is normal on concrete, and doesn't necessarily mean that there is major structural damage to the wall. Settling, weather, or minor trauma can all result in cracks or crumbling concrete.

In most cases, your concrete contractor can fill in the holes and cracks with an expandable concrete repair epoxy. This will create a smooth surface for further refinishing options. Although it's possible to patch without resurfacing, the patches will be obvious.

Resurface for a New Finish

Resurfacing makes the retaining wall look like new again. Resurfacing consists of adding a thin layer of fresh concrete over the old retaining wall structure. Cracks shouldn't reappear in the new surface if they are patched correctly and there are no underlying problems remaining. For example, if the wall settled due to a water leak in the ground nearby, repairing the leak and installing drainage will prevent future cracking.

Add Some Flair

There's no need to stick with boring plain concrete when you're resurfacing. You have many options available that can help camouflage the concrete and make it a more decorative part of your landscape. These include:

  • Tinting or dying the concrete. Concrete dyes are mixed in before application. You have a large range of colors and hues to choose from.

  • Aggregate mixes. Pebbles, sand, or even straw can be added to the concrete mix to provide texture.

  • Stamping. Stamped concrete can resemble stonework, brick, or even tiles.

You can use one or several of these methods to finish your retaining wall. For example, dyed concrete stamped to resemble masonry can provide a lovely brick-like appearance to the wall. You can even combine concrete-acid dying with stamping to form the look of a tiled wall.

The range of decorative options available means you don't have to live with the utilitarian look of plain concrete. Instead, make it an attractive focal point in your landscape design. You can even get walkways and patios refinished in a similar fashion so you can tie together the look of all the different concrete elements in your yard.