Brick vs concrete? Which material is better when building a retaining wall?

The big debate. Brick or concrete? Before we get into it, it is best we unravel what a retaining wall is and what they are good for. Retaining walls are great for retaining earth after excavation, or simply for creating terraces in sloped gardens. The two most common materials used in retaining walls are brick and concrete. Before you decide which material you want to select, we have put together some useful information to help get you started.

Are you building a brick retaining wall?

Brick retaining walls are a popular choice, primarily due to their flexibility. Bricks can be used to create straight retaining walls or even to create sloping curves. You can also choose from a number of different coloured bricks and even get creative by choosing one tone or mixing tones to create a unique look. Brick retaining walls can also be rendered or painted, depending on the type of look you want to achieve.

Brick retaining walls are a great choice because they withstand tough weather conditions and moisture. Brick is not affected by termites or insects and also does not rot or warp, making it an exceptionally durable material. Brick retaining walls have the potential to be very strong with extra reinforcement and solid foundations.

More about concrete retaining walls

Concrete retaining walls are another popular option as they are extremely versatile and incredibly strong. Concrete retaining walls can be made from concrete panels, concrete sleepers or form concrete blocks. Concrete sleep retaining walls allow you to keep the natural smoothness of concrete as well as can be textured to resemble natural timber/stone.

Concrete retaining walls can also be tinted to whatever colour you please! This will never fade or wear off, guaranteeing you with a long-lasting solution. Similar to brick, concrete is very strong, allowing you to build walls of significant heights. Concrete also does not decay, rot, warp or become infested with termites.

Building a retaining wall: material comparison chart

Type of material

  • Concrete:
Pros: Can be used to create curves
Cons: Used for walls under 1.5m
Style: Can use this material to create a Spanish inspired architectural design. Flexible in design.
Durability: Lack of footings can affect the strength
  • Stone Veneer
Pros: Used to create various looks
          Natural, custom appearance   
Cons: Requires a landscape architect to design
Style: Stone can vary in colour and style but can be matched to the existing architecture
Durability: Quite durable with a solid core. Can be designed in almost any thickness and height
  • Poured concrete
Pros: Stronger than a block wall
          Variety of design options 
Cons: Requires skill and technique
Style: Smooth and sleek style - often used in modern landscapes
Durability: Highly durable
  • Brick
Pros: Strong and durable
Cons: Labour intensive and requires special accommodations for drainage
Style: Complements traditional homes and landscapes
Durability: A solid structure which is extremely durable
  • Wood
Pros: Accessible materials
          Simple installation method
Cons: This material can rot and does not last as long as other materials
Style: Blends well into landscapes well and is flexible in design
Durability: Has the potential to last a long time if it is installed properly
  • Dry stone/boulder
Pros: Most natural solution
 Cons: Difficult to control water flow
Style: Ideal for the colonial country and English-style garden
Durability: Water accumulating in the interior of the wall can impact its durability

Before you make your decision, consider the purpose of your wall, your budget and thereafter select the material that is right for you. Bricklaying companies Sydney will be able to build your brick retaining wall for you. Stop Google searching ‘how to build a retaining wall’ and hire a professional! You won’t regret it.

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