Concrete Sleeper Retaining Wall Design  and Cost | How to Build a Concrete Sleeper Retaining Wall

Concrete Sleeper Retaining Wall Design  and Cost | How to Build a Concrete Sleeper Retaining Wall

Concrete Sleeper Retaining Wall Design  and Cost | How to Build a Concrete Sleeper Retaining Wall

Concrete Sleeper Retaining Wall

Retaining walls are used to hold soil together in a sloped area, help with erosion control and provide a general barrier. The width of the wall will vary depending on the situation; it usually ranges anywhere from 1ft to 3ft.

Concrete sleepers are used in these walls to provide strength and support for the soil. 

Concrete sleepers are used to retain the floor of a trench. A solid retaining wall, usually made of reinforced concrete or masonry, is typically constructed on a grade and then capped with soil or landscaping material on the side facing away from the grade.

These blocks are called “sleepers”, as they project above ground level and are held in place by larger masses set into the slope.

The confining wall provides a stable base for retaining walls that often have horizontal projections called cantilevers extending forward from them.

They are used in retaining walls because they provide excellent resistance to vertical loads, which are commonly imposed by back-fill or retained soil while having a significant moment resistance.

This is especially important in trench walls where sideways forces may be quite large.

In trench walls of a slender cross section, as with earth-filled steel pipe walls, sleepers serve to resist overturning from vortex shedding and other aerodynamic effects.

Concrete Sleeper Retaining Wall Design       

A concrete sleeper wall is built by excavating the sides of the trench on either side of the wall location.

Steel reinforcing bars, typically in the ratio of one bar per 32 inches (800 mm) of depth, are installed vertically on each side of the excavation.

The reinforcement is then covered with wire mesh or netting to prevent accidental puncture.

Bags of concrete mix are filled and poured around and on top of the steel reinforcement. Individual bags are then covered with a layer of cement-sand mortar to promote adhesion and prevent erosion.

Left over cement and sand are then raked back into the excavation to fill any gaps between bags. When the wall is finished, the concrete is covered with small stones or other landscaping material, typically to a height of around 3 feet (900 mm).

Concrete sleepers are generally used in retaining walls that have horizontal or nearly horizontal faces. Some designs can also be used for sloping vertical retaining walls.

Concrete sleepers may be used as an alternate to timber or stone in a slope or retaining wall.

Rising wedges are concrete blocks, also known as sleeper blocks, that project above the ground when set in shallow trenches.

They are set into the trench with reinforcing steel to make a stable retaining wall and are typically filled with soil or artificial fill over the top of them when completed.

This type of retaining wall is used where there is little danger of water coming into contact with concrete while in use.

How to Build a Concrete Sleeper Retaining Wall

Building a concrete sleeper retaining wall is a labor-intensive project. For this project you’ll need a shovel, drill with masonry bit, tape measure, level, broom, wheelbarrow and shovels.

 You’ll also need to rent a forklift for hauling in the concrete sleepers and wood framing materials.

 You may also want to rent a construction or compact track hoe with bucket to dig the trench and remove waste soil from it.

 Before you get started you will need to know the size of your wall. If you are building a retaining wall up a slope or down a slope a horizontal distance of a foot is ideal.

If you are separating two sloped areas, the horizontal distance should be at least a foot and a half.

You will also need to know the elevation of your sloped areas.

Determine the location

First, you must determine the course that the wall will go. It will be comparatively easy to create the wall if your desired path is a straight line. If the path has a curve, make sure you account for it.

Putting the spacers in place

The string-line must then be executed. Keep in mind the length of the sleepers. Your sleepers will be either 2m or 2.4m long.

To make installation easier, we recommend leaving a 10mm space between sleepers. A tighter distance makes it difficult for sleepers to relax into the proper position.

The first sleeper is being placed.

The first stage in laying down the first sleeper is to create a concrete pad-height. Before the concrete dries, the first sleeper must sit on this concrete pad-height. This is necessary in order to maintain the remainder of the sleepers in a straight line.


As the first sleeper settles, the next one is stacked on top, and so on. Make careful you stuff the sleepers with a wood wedge. It will assist them in maintaining a strong grip on the bottom sleeper while backfilling.

Tips to Installing a concrete sleeper retaining wall

  •   Use a waterproofing membrane on the ground, such as polyethylene or asphalt, to reduce water damage.
  • Add drainage systems to help prevent water damage to your structure and ensure that all seepage can be diverted around the structure and away from it.
  • Add bracing to all corners of the retaining wall to help prevent deterioration.
  •  Concrete sleeper retaining walls require very little maintenance once they are installed. Cleaning can be done by adding a waterproofing membrane on the ground, such as polyethylene or asphalt. This will protect the structure from water damage and prevent seepage from the wall into your yard.

 Concrete Sleeper Retaining Wall FAQs

1. How much does a concrete sleeper retaining wall cost?

The cost of concrete sleepers vs. other types of retaining walls, such as wood or earth, is often higher due to the additional labor required to create and place the concrete blocks in the trench.

Concrete sleepers retaining wall can cost from $350 per square metres up to 1 metre high and $900 per square metre up to 3 Metres high.

2. What is a concrete sleeper retaining wall?

A concrete sleeper retaining wall is a homogeneous retaining wall commonly constructed with the use of large steel reinforcing bars to provide stability and adhesion to the concrete.

3. What are the applications for concrete sleepers?

Concrete sleepers (also known as “sleepers”, “slabs”, or “cantilevers”) are used to reinforce sidewalls, in earth or rockfill dams, and in open cuttings, tunnels and underground works.

These applications require high stability to withstand the forces resulting from earth loads, as well as large deformations under thermal stresses.

They can also be used in foundations and footings on soft ground such as sand or clay

4. What materials should be included in a concrete sleeper wall?

They are mainly composed of reinforced concrete, but steel, fibreglass material, fiberglass-reinforced cement (FRC), glass fibre reinforced concrete (GRC) or even natural fibres such as hemp can also be used.

5. How high can you build a concrete sleeper wall?

Concrete sleeper retaining walls can be built to heights of 4 meters or more.

6. What is the difference between concrete sleepers and wire mesh?

Concrete sleepers are pre-cast concrete blocks that are typically filled with soil to form a stable retaining wall.

Wire mesh is installed directly in the trench with the help of steel reinforcing bars, which acts as nails to hold the mesh in place. Rebar bars can also be used by layering them horizontally in the trench.

7. What is a Concrete Retaining Wall?

A concrete retaining wall is a type of vertical retaining wall that consists of concrete blocks, steel rebars or other reinforcing materials that are installed in a trench.

8. What is the difference between Concrete sleepers and reinforced concrete walls?

Concrete sleepers are pre-cast concrete blocks that are typically filled with soil to form a stable retaining wall. Reinforced concrete is made of steel reinforcing bars, which are embedded in the concrete.

9. What are the advantages of Concrete Retaining Walls?

They are able to maintain a height higher than other types; the wall is able to resist water erosion; and the wall has a high degree of flexibility, provided that it’s well-built.

10. What are the disadvantages of Concrete Retaining Walls?

The extra cost of construction is a disadvantage.

11. How long does a concrete sleeper retaining wall last?

A concrete sleeper retaining wall may last for more than 20 years, although it may be shorter if the wall is in a high-stress environment.

12. What advantages does the concrete sleeper retaining wall have?

Because concrete sleepers are pre-cast and require no construction onsite, installing them is faster and less expensive than other types of retaining walls. Furthermore, because they do not need to support growing plants, they are rarely damaged by roots.

13. How do you build a concrete sleeper retaining wall?

Installing a concrete sleeper retaining wall can involve heavy work. Follow these tips for an easier job:

1.       Get a proper plan.

2.       Plan for the proper height of the retaining wall.

3.       Create a stable base for the retaining wall by grading out the area with heavy equipment and making sure the soil is properly compacted or mounded up to create a strong footing for the wall itself.

4.       Install steel reinforcing bars in trenches and along walls, filling them with concrete mix to form solid blocks that are then capped with landscape material, earth, or other materials.

5.       Add any capstones or decorative elements you want to the wall.

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