How Much does it Cost to Build a Retaining Wall? Things to Consider

A retaining wall is often essential for numerous outdoor landscaping projects, serving multiple functions. Key roles of a retaining wall comprise:

  • Keeping a structure in its set location
  • Safeguarding other property locations from soil that slides
  • Ground preservation
  • Include area to property
  • Make sloped land useable

While these are the common functions of a retaining wall, there are plenty more. When a property includes a retaining wall, it’s frequently a noticeable component to the landscaping style, and they are typically made to not just satisfy their function but also to include a pleasing visual.

Retaining walls can be rather expensive, however there are many different materials and style alternatives readily available to finish your retaining wall project no matter how big or little your budget is.

In this short article, you’ll learn:

The typical cost of a retaining wall Product costs per square foot Labor expenses Types of landscape walls Replacement and repair work expenses

We will offer you 5 things to keep in mind when discovering a retaining wall that can work within your budget plan. Let’s begin!

Retaining Wall Cost

The final cost of a retaining wall depends upon materials utilized, labor and installation expenses, in addition to the size of the wall, to name a few aspects. While most house owners will invest between $3,200 – $8.650, the average expense of developing a retaining wall is roughly $5,500.

In terms of product, wall blocks are most affordable, sitting between $10 – $15 per square foot, wood will sit at roughly $15 – $25 per square foot, and put concrete expenses anywhere in between $20 – $25 per square foot. The typical expense of retaining wall building materials varies between $3 – $40 per square foot.

Material Costs Per Square Foot

Fortunately is that you have a lot of control over this price point because you ultimately get to decide what your retaining wall is made of. The secret here is to find something that deals with your aesthetic and is most practical for your particular task.

It most likely won’t be a very economical choice if you chose a low-cost material like wood for a project that will have a high direct exposure to moisture in time. The life expectancy of your retaining wall will be significantly decrease, costing you more in the end.

When choosing materials, make sure that you and your retaining wall contractor keep these factors in mind as each job has different requirements and requirements; if you require the suggestions of an expert, do not be reluctant to ask to ensure your final decision is a good one.

If you pick a low-cost material that declines and fails in time, you’ll have to pay more in the long term.

All of the expenses that you’ll find in this area is for the building material only; we’ll mention additional costs as required as well as include particular areas on wall installation type and labor quotes later in this post.

Material | Average Price Range per Square Foot

Corten Steel / Metal


Earth / Chalk






Cinder Block


Stone Veneer




Wood Timber


Poured Concrete



Stone Veneer

Mimicking the appearance of natural stone, stone veneers are fairly economical. You can also accomplish various looks in regards to style and color given that there are plenty of mixes and options available.

In addition to color and design alternatives, their appearance is very natural, so they can match a range of various property styles.

You’ll need a base with a stone veneer retaining wall, and this core can be developed with resilient and strong materials such as poured concrete or cinder block for a good, strong wall.

Other base alternatives consist of sheet metal, brick, and wood.

The veneers itself are quite budget friendly, ranging from $3-12 when made from manufactured stone; if you’re looking for a natural stone veneer, you’ll be looking at $8 and up. A property owner seeking to use stone veneers is most likely going to fall within the $11-15 range, usually.

These walls are exceptionally long lasting due to the strong base, and they also aren’t susceptible to pest concerns or decaying. Because they are lightweight and low maintenance, the setup cost is going to be lower than genuine, full stone walls.

Even still, to make sure the job is done appropriately, a landscape designer must be generated for setup and application, and this is where the expense may increase.

You’re taking a look at a hourly rate of roughly 70− 150 for a landscape architect.

In many cases, they will take your overall task budget plan and charge you a set portion.

Metals and Corten Steel

This isn’t a product that is first considered for retaining wall jobs, especially in a natural or residential landscape, however metal products can make for effective and resilient retaining walls.

The rate is also right at an average of $3-4 per square foot. The most typical products consist of steel, Corten steel, and aluminum. They are water-resistant, long-lasting, and likewise strong.

All options are typically offered in plate and corrugated form so that property owners can pick based on taste and overall appearance.

  • Corten Steel: The least expensive alternative can be found in at $2.50 to $3 per square foot; this product will look rusted due to oxidation, which also includes a layer of defense versus weather condition and disintegration. It lasts a long time with low maintenance but is finest for a rustic visual due to the oxidation.
  • Steel Plate: This option will cost you more or less $3 per square foot, or $10 per panel. The fantastic aspect of steel is that it’s untouched by weather and bug problems, so it won’t end up being rusted or eaten away. Environment won’t affect steel, and it’s also extremely strong regardless of its lightweight nature.
  • Aluminum: Very comparable to steel, you’ll find aluminum at approximately $10 per panel as well. With an even lighter weight than steel, you’ll likewise enjoy no maintenance or rust, and it’s even set up typically when there is a requirement for a water barrier.

Cinder Block

Concrete block walls are fantastic for short walls; due to the fact that they are not secured in the ground with footings, the advised height is no higher than 4 feet. Even still, when you need to keep a lot of soil, concrete block is an outstanding option. It’s a versatile alternative that will also allow you to implement curves into the style of your wall with no extra monetary expense.

A low-maintenance and resilient structure choice, a concrete block wall will cost you from $10-15 per square foot. This makes it an excellent long-lasting choice, with quick installation and a resistance to rot, fire, and other aspects.

There are also interlocking cinder block, also known as modular concrete blocks, that are similar to concrete block however with interlocking functions for even easier setup. This is one of the principal advantages of both interlocking blocks and normal cinder blocks.

In terms of style and appearance, they have a lot of choices for color, and if your spending plan is a bit larger, they can even look more like natural stone. Sometimes you can even find ones that look weathered, mosaic, or patched, depending upon the maker.


A fan favorite for use in gardens or natural-looking residential or commercial properties, wooden retaining wall materials will fall in between 15− 25 per square foot. They are generally the most economical solution, however they can also be the least durable in some cases.

Wood has a great natural appearance, and you can certainly find lovely varieties that are at a greater cost point, however there are some disadvantages depending upon your particular project. Water and insects greatly affect wood retaining walls, which will decrease the life-span of your retaining wall.

It’s vital that there is proper waterproofing of the product, along with pest control; there likewise need to work drain or water damage will gnaw at the wall. If you take this into account from the beginning of your task, they can quickly last for 20 years or more.

Among the most popular options for wood is the use of railway sleepers and ties; they use an intriguing aesthetic and have cost-effective materials. We’ll discuss this more in detail in the installation area.

Wood retaining walls are also suggested for much shorter walls, adhering to the exact same recommendation as concrete block walls: 4 feet.


A traditional look and a timeless material, brick is lasting and reliable for your retaining wall requires with high levels of strength and performance. Bricks walls will cost approximately $14-15 per square foot, but there will likewise be costs for other products, such as mortar.

In addition, in some cases this may take longer for installation in comparison with other products, and frequently requires an expert that knows about laying bricks. You’ll also require a design that thinks about drainage so that it doesn’t fail due to water damage later.

Poured Concrete

Often popular for modern-day styles and comparable to cinder block in sturdiness and resistance to the aspects, poured concrete walls usually cost 20− 25 per square foot, including installation and materials. While it is more expensive than concrete block, it’s likewise much more powerful.

Poured concrete is more common for commercial and industrial tasks generally due to its modern-day aesthetic and the capacity of high installation expenses. What’s more, if the concrete becomes cracked, the whole wall might be at danger of failure, which indicates it needs to be gotten rid of and replaced.

For these factors, in addition big footings for poured concrete retaining walls, they are not a common alternative for residential tasks.


Varying considerably in costs, chalk and earth materials are often popular for their sustainability. You can expect these materials to cost anywhere between $3-27 per square foot.

The two common forms include compressed earth blocks and rammed earth walls. Rammed earth walls are produced utilizing a structure to form a large slab, and this material will cost you more, ranging from 23− 27 per square foot.

Compressed earth blocks are totally different, and method more affordable. These are made separately and will cost you as low as 0.50− 1 per block, or 3− 7 per square foot.

While the costs are low, these products require to be enhanced and generally have a concrete piece that adds stability. They are also prone to water damage, so waterproofing is necessary if you want a long-lasting wall.

Labor is greater when it comes to chalk and earth materials.


Frequently utilized on banks near lakes or oceans, Gabion can shift and adjust with the soil instead of cracking. This material will run you anywhere from 4− 40 per square foot, however need to consist of circuitry or wire cages, costing $30-$40 per cubic yard.

There are a lot of filler products to select from, consisting of stones, wood, and crushed concrete– this option will affect the overall rate of your Gabion retaining wall, however they are typically easy and affordable in regards to setup.

Rocks and Boulders

A popular material, rocks and stones are not necessarily that expensive by themselves. The issue is that the labor expenses are among the greatest, enhancing the total expense to $25+ per square foot for stone and rock walls materials + installation.

They are stunning, more environmentally friendly, along with natural, but due to the fact that they are really heavy and harder for setup purposes. For example, brick will cost you about $15-$25 per hour for setup, whereas dry stacking stones run at $65+. As you can see, they come at a rate.

They are likewise not ideal if water control is a need of your retaining wall jobs, as building and construction methods frequently allow free-flowing water between stones.

Some common stone products include:

  • Limestone: A common choice for its sturdiness and strength, Limestone can be quickly discovered in sizes that correlate; this is recommended for increased stability. They are of a cream color, using a pleasing visual.
  • Sandstone: There are a lot of color choices when it concerns sandstone, as it is composed of sand and minerals. It’s a bit softer than other stones but is much easier to deal with and simple to find; nevertheless, for environments heavy in wetness, this material might not work best.
  • Dry Stone: a mortar-free stone wall, dry stones are stacked tactically so that they are protected and prevent landslides. Again, water control is an obstacle with dry stone walls.
  • Keystone: A stable option, this brand name of stones offers you a plethora of options for colors, designs, and designs, and include a pin system that permits stable stacking and resilience. They have the ability to be stacked greater also, so you can use them for numerous kinds of wall tasks and sizes.

Retaining Wall Labor Cost Estimate

A typical labor cost variety falls in between 53− 60 an hour; this can be increased quickly when you factor in a variety of different elements.

Things like the size and height of your wall will impact labor costs, in addition to ease of website gain access to as well as any demolition that is required in order to get begun on the job or bring essential products.

If there is additional external disposure of materials when the job is done, that will likewise factor into your labor expenses.

Material, Average Labor Cost Per Hour



Stone Veneer




Concrete Blocks


Dry Stacked Stone


Poured Concrete




As you can see, the capacity for high labor expenses exists across all products, so it’s best to consult the differences with your particular contractor when thinking about materials and expenses.

While brick is less expensive as a product, the labor can cost more due to the time-consuming nature of laying brick, and you’ll likewise require to pay for things like mortar.

It’s constantly best to go over all of your alternatives and the particular requirements of your job before choosing a product.

Extra Costs

There are some other costs that you might stumble upon, such as gaining support materials or tools that are required for the job.

When these expenses develop, you’re taking a look at a rough estimate of about $1 per square foot. While you may not have to handle any extra expenses, it’s constantly a good concept to have a cushion in case something unexpected occurs.

Discuss this possibility with your retaining wall contractor before your job starts.

Installation Costs for Different Retaining Wall Types

There are various types of retaining wall setups, but on average, costs range from 15− 40 per square foot, with some walls more budget-friendly than others.

When a retaining wall is designed for ease of setup, you’ll discover that the price will be more affordable; for example, obstructs with interlocking design or stones with pins are much easier to install.

Railway Ties

This wooden product is often easy to set up and economical. Including both material and labor, your total expense can be as low as 25− 30 per square foot.

There is very little additional products or tools required for the task; they fit rather quickly, and they can even extend a bit over the 4 ft. recommended height of normal wood retaining walls if crafted effectively.


Another alternative that is simpler on the wallet, interlocking blocks are typically utilized for simple setup because they conserve both time along with expenditure for equipment. The products are relatively inexpensive as well.

The price for interlocking blocks consisting of material and labor will run you in between 15− 30 per square foot.

Rammed Earth

As we saw in previous areas, this material type by itself is quite low-cost, however the labor increases the total job expense substantially.

Compressed earth blocks are not going to have this problem, as they are approximately 15− 25 per square foot including materials and labor, much like concrete blocks.

Rammed earth costs more due to the labor and care that goes into the installation, costing roughly 30− 40 per square foot for both labor and products.

Fixing and Replacing a Retaining Wall

There are a couple different reasons that you might require to fix or replace a retaining wall, and all of them are normally related to poor preparation or poor building. It’s crucial that you examine your task and catch issues early so that you do not need to struggle with high reparation expenses.

Some things you want to search for consist of:

  • Leakages
  • Shifts
  • Fractures
  • Tilting

There are many things that can be done at the time of building and construction that assist to avoid problems. Footing must be deep enough to endure soil modifications. Pressure should be precisely prepared for or tilting, and collapse will be inevitable. If low-cost products or incorrectly waterproofed ones are utilized, the entire wall may require replacement due to weathering and disintegration. These are just a couple of examples.

In most cases, reparations for retaining walls can be costly and time-consuming. It’s far better to think about all of these components before the task so that you don’t have to correct anything later on.

Retaining Wall Replacement

Sometimes, it’ll be required to change the whole structure. If you find yourself in this situation, you’ll likewise need to think about the elimination of whatever you have actually left and after that the restoring.

Here are some typical expenses that are involved with retaining wall replacements:

Service, Cost



Land Grading

$0.50-$3 per square foot

Concrete demolition (poured concrete or bases)

$4-$8 per square foot

Drainage installation

$0.50 per square foot to $70 per linear foot

Landscape architect

$70-$150 per hour


$3-$45 per square foot

Take preventative procedures to avoid retaining wall repairs and replacement.

5 Things to Consider: Retaining Wall Cost

When deciding how much your retaining wall will cost, there are five crucial considerations that you’ll want to make. Below we will offer you some ideas on how to make the best choice for your task.

Overall Budget

When considering retaining wall cost, you need to consider your total possible spending plan. Be reasonable about how much you can invest; you might invest as low as $3200, or you might spend upwards of $9000.

Discuss your choices and recommendations with a retaining wall expert so that you can make educated decisions and carry out appropriate planning.

Retaining Wall Material and Installation Type

You will have to make key decisions about what sort of material works best for your visual as well as performance. Remember, each job is different, so there isn’t one “best” material, as each kind of material is affected by weather condition and bugs in a different way.

You have no shortage of alternatives in terms of products, so think about what will work best for the size of your job, how much you can spend on products, as well as how you want it to look and be designed.

If you’re looking for curves and your wall project is 4 feet or under in height, cinder blocks or interlocking concrete blocks may be your option.

Consider the installation type when thinking about materials; this will likewise impact how easy your job is and how much labor will cost.

Labor Costs

Labor can be affected by various needs of products; if you’re looking for quick and simple setups, interlocking blocks or wood are going to be the easiest and quickest to get set up.

Materials like brick or dry stacking stones are going to cost you much more in labor due to the workforce needed. Keep these factors in mind if you want to save on labor. Your particular task requirements likewise impact labor, including design aspects along with drainage needs.

Life-span and Durability

You want to consider the product that you selected and always bear in mind external factors such as weather conditions, pests, load capability, and drain.

You should likewise guarantee that the footings are appropriately installed, the soil was checked, and that the pressure was properly measured so that you do not have to deal with costly repairs down the line.

Various factors play into the life-span of retaining walls.

When using wood, remember that it needs to be correctly treated and waterproofed if it is going to stand the test of time.

Don’t forget: Planning is Key

There are so many factors that play into the design and construction of retaining walls that planning and appropriate factor to consider before building and construction starts is definitely essential. Put in the time that you need to pick materials and size, in addition to proper screening and developing.

It’s finest to use a professional contractor to install your retaining wall both for safety and success, so if you choose to invest in one location over another, let it be expert consultation and building and construction.

Last Thoughts: How Much does a Retaining Wall Cost?

All in all, the typical retaining wall cost is roughly $5,500, but retaining wall cost varies greatly depending upon job size, products, labor, and other factors. Planning successfully and consulting professionals to make sure that your job is executed correctly is the best method to ensure that you get the most out of your retaining wall financial investment.

You do not want to need to purchase repairs or complete replacement later, so making smart and thoughtful choices when preparing for your retaining wall can save you a lot in the long term.