How Much does it Cost to Build a Retaining Wall? 5 Things to Consider

A retaining wall can be a requirement for a range of external landscaping projects, and they serve a variety of purposes.

Some of the most typical functions of a retaining wall consist of:

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

While these are the common functions of a retaining wall, there are plenty more. When a property consists of a retaining wall, it's frequently a noticeable element to the landscaping style, and they are often made to not only satisfy their purpose however also to add a pleasing aesthetic.

Retaining walls can be quite expensive, however there are several materials and style choices readily available to finish your retaining wall task no matter how huge or small your budget plan is.

In this article, you'll learn:

  • The average expense of a retaining wall
  • Product costs per square foot
  • Labor expenses
  • Types of landscape walls
  • Replacement and repair expenses

We will offer you 5 things to remember when discovering a retaining wall that can work within your spending plan. Let's get started!

Retaining Wall Cost

The final expense of a retaining wall depends upon products used, labor and installation expenses, in addition to the size of the wall, among other elements. While the majority of house owners will spend between 3,200 - $8.650, the typical expense of building a retaining wall is approximately $5,500. In regards to material, wall blocks are most affordable, sitting in between $10 - $15 per square foot, wood will sit at approximately $15 - $25 per square foot, and poured concrete expenses anywhere in between $20- 25 per square foot. The typical expense of retaining wall structure materials ranges between $3 - $40 per square foot.

Product Costs Per Square Foot

The good news is that you have a lot of control over this cost point because you eventually get to decide what your retaining wall is made from. The secret here is to discover something that works with your visual and is most practical for your specific task.

It most likely won't be a really cost-effective decision if you selected a low-cost product like wood for a job that will have a high direct exposure to moisture gradually. The life expectancy of your retaining wall will be substantially decrease, costing you more in the end.

When selecting materials, make certain that you and your retaining wall contractor keep these factors in mind as each task has various requirements and requirements; if you require the guidance of a specialist, do not think twice to ask to make certain your final decision is a good one.

If you select an inexpensive product that decreases and stops working over time, you'll need to pay more in the long term.

All of the expenses that you'll discover in this area is for the building material just; we'll point out additional expenses as needed along with include respective areas on wall installation type and labor estimates later in this post.


Typical Price Range per Square Foot

Corten Steel/ Metal $ 3-$ 4

Earth/ Chalk $ 3-$ 27

Gabion $ 3-$ 40

Stone/ Rock $ 8-$ 12

Cinder Block $ 10-$ 15

Stone Veneer $ 11-$ 15

Brick $ 14-$ 15

Wood Timber $ 15-$ 25

Poured Concrete $ 20-$ 25


Stone Veneer

Mimicking the look of natural stone, stone veneers are fairly economical. You can likewise accomplish several looks in regards to style and color because there are plenty of mixes and options available.

In addition to color and design alternatives, their look is very natural, so they can suit a variety of various property designs.

You'll require a base with a stone veneer retaining wall, and this core can be developed with long lasting and strong products such as poured concrete or cinder block for a great, strong wall.

Other base options include sheet metal, brick, and wood.

The veneers itself are quite economical, ranging from $3-12 when made from manufactured stone; if you're searching for a natural stone veneer, you'll be looking at $8 and upward. A homeowner wanting to utilize stone veneers is probably going to fall within the $11-15 variety, typically.

These walls are incredibly resilient due to the strong base, and they likewise aren't vulnerable to pest problems or rotting. Considering that they are light-weight and low maintenance, the installation cost is going to be lower than real, full stone walls.

Even still, to make sure the task is done correctly, a landscape designer must be brought in for setup and application, and this is where the cost might rise. You're looking at a per hour rate of approximately 70− 150 for a landscape designer.

Sometimes, they will take your overall task budget plan and charge you a set percentage.

Metals and Corten Steel

This isn't a material that is first considered for retaining wall tasks, especially in a natural or residential landscape, however metal products can produce efficient and resilient retaining walls.

The cost 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 waterproof, lasting, and likewise strong.

All alternatives are normally offered in plate and corrugated kind so that homeowners can pick based on taste and total appearance.

Corten Steel: The least expensive choice comes in at $2.50 to $3 per square foot; this material will look rusted due to oxidation, which also adds a layer of defense against weather condition and disintegration. It lasts a long time with low upkeep however is finest for a rustic visual due to the oxidation.

Steel Plate: This option will cost you basically $3 per square foot, or $10 per panel. The great thing about steel is that it's untouched by weather condition and insect concerns, so it will not end up being rusted or eaten away. Climate will not 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 also. With an even lighter weight than steel, you'll also take pleasure in no upkeep or rust, and it's even installed typically when there is a requirement for a water barrier.

Concrete block

Cinder block walls are great 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 require to withhold a lot of soil, concrete block is an outstanding option. It's a versatile alternative that will also allow you to execute curves into the design of your wall without any extra budgetary expense.

A low-maintenance and durable structure choice, a concrete block wall will cost you from $10-15 per square foot. This makes it a fantastic long-term alternative, with fast setup and a resistance to rot, fire, and other elements.

There are also interlocking concrete blocks, likewise called modular concrete blocks, that resemble concrete block however with interlocking features for even easier installation. This is one of the primary advantages of both interlocking blocks and typical cinder blocks.

In regards to design and look, they have plenty of choices for color, and if your spending plan is a bit bigger, they can even look more like natural stone. Sometimes you can even discover ones that look weathered, mosaic, or patched, depending on the maker.


A fan favorite for usage in gardens or natural-looking properties, wooden retaining wall products will fall between 15− 25 per square foot. They are generally the most cost-effective option, but they can likewise be the least long lasting in some cases.

Wood has a great natural look, and you can definitely discover lovely varieties that are at a higher price point, however there are some drawbacks depending on your specific task. Water and bugs heavily affect wood retaining walls, which will decrease the lifespan of your retaining wall.

It's vital that there appertains waterproofing of the material, as well as pest control; there also should be effective drainage or water damage will gnaw at the wall. If you take this into account from the beginning of your job, they can quickly last for 20 years or more.

Among the most popular alternatives for wood is using railroad sleepers and ties; they use an interesting visual and have cost-efficient products. We'll discuss this more in detail in the installation area.

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


A timeless appearance and a traditional product, brick is lasting and trusted for your retaining wall needs with high levels of strength and performance. Bricks walls will cost roughly $14-15 per square foot, however there will also be costs for other materials, such as mortar.

In addition, sometimes this might take longer for setup in contrast with other materials, and often needs an expert that understands about laying bricks. You'll also need a style that considers drain so that it doesn't fail due to water damage later on.

Poured Concrete

Typically popular for modern-day styles and similar to cinder block in resilience and resistance to the aspects, poured concrete walls usually cost 20− 25 per square foot, consisting of installation and products. While it is more costly than concrete block, it's also much more powerful.

Poured concrete is more typical for commercial and commercial tasks normally due to its modern-day visual and the potential of high setup costs. What's more, if the concrete becomes broken, the whole wall may be at threat of failure, which means it needs to be removed and replaced.

For these reasons, in addition big footings for poured concrete retaining walls, they are not a typical option for residential tasks.


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

The two typical kinds consist of compressed earth blocks and rammed earth walls. Rammed earth walls are produced using a structure to form a large slab, and this material will cost you more, varying from 23− 27 per square foot.

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

While the expenses are low, these materials need to be enhanced and typically have a concrete piece that adds stability. They are also prone to water damage, so waterproofing is needed if you desire a long-lasting wall.

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


Frequently used on banks near lakes or oceans, Gabion can move and adjust with the soil instead of cracking. This material will run you anywhere from 4− 40 per square foot, however must include circuitry or wire cages, costing 30− 40 per cubic yard.

There are lots of filler materials to choose from, consisting of stones, wood, and crushed concrete-- this choice will affect the overall price of your Gabion retaining wall, however they are usually easy and affordable in regards to setup.

Rocks and Boulders

A popular product, rocks and stones are not necessarily that pricey by themselves. The issue is that the labor expenses are amongst the highest, boosting the total cost to $25+ per square foot for boulder and rock walls products + installation.

They are beautiful, more environmentally friendly, along with natural, but because 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 cost.

They are likewise not ideal if water control is a requirement of your retaining wall jobs, as construction techniques frequently allow free-flowing water in between stones.

Some common stone materials include:

Limestone: A common alternative for its resilience and strength, Limestone can be easily discovered in sizes that associate; this is suggested for increased stability. They are of a cream color, using a pleasing aesthetic. Sandstone: There are lots of color choices when it pertains to sandstone, as it is composed of sand and minerals. It's a bit softer than other stones but is much easier to work with and easy to find; nevertheless, for environments heavy in moisture, this product may not work best. Dry Stone: a mortar-free stone wall, dry stones are stacked strategically so that they are secure and prevent landslides. Once again, water control is a challenge with dry stone walls. Keystone: A steady option, this brand name of stones uses you a myriad of alternatives for colors, styles, and designs, and include a pin system that allows for steady stacking and resilience. They are able to be stacked higher too, so you can use them for many types of wall jobs and sizes.

Retaining Wall Labor Cost Estimate

An average labor cost range falls in between 53− 60 an hour; this can be increased quickly when you factor in a range of different components.

Things like the size and height of your wall will affect labor costs, along with ease of site gain access to along with any demolition that is needed in order to get begun on the job or bring necessary products.

If there is extra external disposure of materials when the task is done, that will likewise factor into your labor costs.


Average Labor Cost Per Hour

Wood $ 15-$ 75

Stone Veneer $ 30-$ 75

Stone $ 60-$ 75

Concrete Blocks $ 60-$ 75

Dry Stacked Stone $ 60-$ 80

Poured Concrete $ 60-$ 80

Brick $ 60-$ 90

As you can see, the capacity for high labor expenses exists across all materials, so it's best to consult the distinctions with your specific contractor when considering materials and costs.

For instance, while brick is less expensive as a product, the labor can cost more due to the lengthy nature of laying brick, and you'll likewise require to pay for things like mortar.

It's always best to go over all of your options and the particular needs of your job before picking a material.

Additional Costs

There are some other costs that you may encounter, such as getting support materials or tools that are required for the task.

When these expenses develop, you're taking a look at a rough estimate of about $1 per square foot. While you might not need to deal with any additional costs, it's constantly a great idea to have a cushion in case something unforeseen occurs.

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

Setup Costs for Different Retaining Wall Types

There are different kinds of retaining wall setups, however usually, 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 installation, you'll discover that the rate will be more affordable; for example, blocks with interlocking style or stones with pins are simpler to install.

Railroad Sleepers

This wood product is frequently simple to install and economical. Including both material and labor, your overall cost can be as low as 25− 30 per square foot.

There is very little extra materials or tools needed for the job; they fit quite easily, and they can even extend a bit over the 4 ft. recommended height of regular wood retaining walls if crafted effectively.


Another alternative that is simpler on the wallet, interlocking blocks are frequently used for simple installation given that they save both time as well as expenditure for equipment. The products are reasonably economical as well.

The rate for interlocking blocks consisting of product and labor will run you between 15− 30 per square foot.

Rammed Earth

As we saw in previous sections, this product type on its own is rather cheap, but the labor increases the total job expense significantly.

Compressed earth blocks are not going to have this issue, as they are roughly 15− 25 per square foot consisting of materials and labor, much like concrete blocks.

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

Repairing and Replacing a Retaining Wall

There are a couple different reasons that you might need to fix or replace a retaining wall, and all of them are normally connected to bad preparation or poor building. It's important that you assess your project and catch issues early so that you do not have to struggle with high reparation expenses.

Some things you want to try to find consist of:

  • Leakages
  • Shifts
  • Fractures
  • Tilting

There are many things that can be done at the time of building and construction that help to prevent problems. Footing must be deep enough to hold up against soil modifications. Pressure should be accurately planned for or tilting, and collapse will be inescapable. If low-cost materials or poorly waterproofed ones are used, the entire wall might need replacement due to weathering and disintegration. These are simply a couple of examples.

For the most part, reparations for retaining walls can be costly and time-consuming. It's better to consider all of these components before the task so that you do not need to correct anything later.

Retaining Wall Replacement

In some cases, it'll be needed to change the entire structure. If you find yourself in this situation, you'll also have to think about the removal of whatever you have left and then the rebuilding.

Here are some typical costs that are included with retaining wall replacements.

Service Expenses

Devices $ 160-$ 250

Land Grading $ 0.50-$ 3 per square foot

Concrete demolition (poured concrete or bases) $ 4-$ 8 per square foot

Drain setup $ 0.50 per square foot to $70 per linear foot

Landscape architect $ 70-$ 150 per hour

Materials $ 3-$ 45 per square foot

Labor $ 53-60 per hour

Take preventative procedures to avoid retaining wall repair work and replacement.

5 Things to Consider: Retaining Wall Cost

When deciding how much your retaining wall will cost, there are 5 essential factors to consider that you'll wish to make. Below we will provide you some ideas on how to make the best decision for your task.

Overall Budget

When considering retaining wall expense, you have to consider your overall possible budget. Be realistic about how much you can spend; you might invest as low as $3200, or you might invest up of $9000.

Discuss your alternatives and recommendations with a retaining wall specialist so that you can make educated decisions and carry out appropriate preparation.

Retaining Wall Material and Installation Type

You will need to make key decisions about what sort of material works best for your aesthetic along with performance. Keep in mind, each job is different, so there isn't one "best" material, as each type of material is impacted by weather and insects differently.

You have no lack of choices in regards to materials, so think about what will work best for the size of your job, just how much you can invest in products, in addition to how you want it to look and be created.

If you're looking for curves and your wall task is 4 feet or under in height, cinder blocks or interlocking concrete blocks might be your alternative.

Consider the installation type when considering products; this will also affect how simple your job is and how much labor will cost.

Labor Costs

Labor can be affected by different requirements of products; if you're trying to find fast and simple installations, interlocking blocks or wood are going to be the simplest and quickest to get installed.

Products like brick or dry stacking stones are going to cost you a lot more in labor due to the manpower needed. Keep these consider mind if you want to minimize labor. Your particular task requirements likewise affect labor, including design aspects along with drainage requirements.

Life-span and Durability

You want to think about the product that you chose and constantly keep in mind external elements such as climate condition, pests, load capability, and drain.

You should likewise guarantee that the footings are correctly installed, the soil was tested, which the pressure was properly determined so that you do not need to deal with pricey repair work down the line.

Several aspects play into the life expectancy of retaining walls.

When utilizing wood, keep in mind that it must be correctly dealt with and waterproofed if it is going to stand the test of time.

Do not forget: Planning is Key

There are a lot of aspects that play into the style and building of retaining walls that planning and correct factor to consider before building and construction begins is absolutely essential. Make the effort that you require to select products and size, as well as appropriate testing and designing.

It's best to utilize a professional contractor to install your retaining wall both for safety and success, so if you decide to spend on one area over another, let it be expert consultation and building and construction.

Final Thoughts: How Much does a Retaining Wall Cost?

All in all, the average retaining wall cost is roughly $5,500, but retaining wall cost varies significantly depending upon job size, materials, labor, and other aspects. Preparation successfully and consulting specialists to ensure that your task is carried out effectively is the very best way to guarantee that you get the most out of your retaining wall investment.

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

Need a Contractor?

If you live in Kansas City MO and are looking to build your dream retaining wall then you've found your 'retaining wall contractor near me' team. We'll take care of your retaining wall project!