How Much Does It Cost To Install A Retaining Wall?

Typical Range:

$3,197 - $8,945

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 2,196 HomeAdvisor members. Embed this data

How We Get This Data

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  • Homeowners use HomeAdvisor to find pros for home projects.
  • When their projects are done, they fill out a short cost survey.
  • We compile the data and report costs back to you.

Updated May 20, 2022

Reviewed by Tara Dudley, Landscape Designer, Landscape Project Coordinator and Owner of Plant Life Designs.

Written by HomeAdvisor.

A retaining wall can serve various functional and aesthetic purposes, such as keeping soil in its place, preventing erosion, increasing available lawn space, or even improving curb appeal. 

The average cost to build a retaining wall is $5,841. Depending on the project size, retaining wall type, and labor cost, expect to pay $3,197 and $8,945. However, some large projects will climb as high as $14,500.

2022 Notice: Material Prices Are Surging

Demand for siding and other building materials has grown over the past year. And as a result, manufacturers are increasing materials prices. Prices have gone up 5% to 10% this year, and many parts of the country are experiencing long delivery times. If you're planning a building project, we recommend starting as early as possible in the season, preparing for potential price fluctuations, and allowing extra time to order materials.

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National Average $5,841
Typical Range $3,197 - $8,945
Low End - High End $1,200 - $15,000

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 2,196 HomeAdvisor members.

Retaining Wall Cost per Square Foot

On average, retaining walls cost $20 to $60 per square foot, with large, complex builds with high-end materials costing up to $125 per square foot.

Retaining Wall Costs by Type

9 types of retaining walls listed, including concrete, brick, steel, metal, wood, or timber
Photo: davelogan / iStock / Getty Images

The cost to build a retaining wall will depend primarily on the type of wall you build. When choosing the type of retaining wall you want, it's essential to consider several factors: 

  • Establish the intended purpose of the retaining wall. 

  • Determine the length and height it needs to be. 

  • Understand moisture conditions where you plan to have your wall built.

  • Know the look and style you’re going for. 

  • Decide on your budget for the project. 

If you’re planning to use a contractor or residential structural engineer near you, they should be able to help you determine which materials make the most sense for your particular wall type. Keep reading to find out your options and their prices.

Concrete Retaining Wall

Concrete retaining walls cost $10 to $100 per square face foot (or the square feet of the face of the wall). You can choose from poured, split-face block, or CMU (cinder block). You may also use veneers on poured and cinder walls, but the split-face look comes with a rock-like texture and various colors.

Wood or Timber Retaining Wall 

Wooden retaining walls average $15 to $30 per square foot. They typically last five to 20 years and are a favorite for gardens because of their natural appearance. You can easily find this cost-effective material locally. The downside of using wood is that it’s susceptible to rot and water damage. However, drainage and waterproofing during installation can make this style last decades.

Gabion and Stone Retaining Wall

Stone retaining walls cost $5 to $100 per square foot. Prices range from the inexpensive and practical gabion to the high-end stacked stone and limestone options.

Brick Retaining Wall

Brick walls cost $10 to $45 per square foot. Bricks can act as a veneer in a retaining wall, meaning they're only one brick thick (a wythe), typically outside of poured or block concrete. They're often only suitable up to about 4 feet in height when used alone, but above that height, you'll want to have them two wythes thick for better stability.

Metal Retaining Wall 

There are many metal retaining wall options to choose from, including sheet piling, corten, and I-beam. Keep in mind that metal rusts over time and works better in some climates than others, but it can last for many decades if installed and treated properly, with galvanized steel lasting the longest in coastal environments.

Type of Metal Average Price Range per Square Foot
Sheet piling $40 – $60
I-beam $40 – $90
Corten $75 – $125

Rammed Earth and Compressed Earth Block Retaining Wall

Rammed earth retaining walls cost $20 to $30 per square foot. They're created by compacting earth with a binder into a hardened structure. Modern methods use some cement as a binder and can reach the strength of concrete. Although not used extensively, it's a more environmentally responsible alternative to brick and concrete. 

On the other hand, compressed earth blocks are different from rammed earth walls because they’re compressed individually, coming as low as $5 to $10 per square foot.

Railroad Tie Retaining Wall 

Railroad tie retaining walls cost $25 to $30 per square foot. Because they're soaked in creosote, they don't rot the way untreated wood does. But it's also toxic to humans, making it a less popular option. Check with your local code enforcement or contractor to see if you can use these in your area.

Retaining Wall Cost Breakdown

Regional labor rates and the cost of materials will be two of the biggest factors when it comes to building a retaining wall that’s right for your needs. Complex projects using concrete bricks and in hard-to-access areas will be the most expensive, whereas simple interlocking blocks made from rammed earth may be on the lower end of the price range.

Labor

Labor costs will fluctuate by region and market, but most contractors will charge between $50 to $75 per hour to build a retaining wall. Several factors can affect the cost of labor for your project. Blocks with interlocking or pin mechanisms take less time to form and fit together, while rammed earth slabs require more time and care. Other variables that can affect the cost of labor include the following:

  • Walls over 4 feet high: They require footings, reinforcement, and scaffolding and may also require engineered drawings, leading to additional costs.

  • Access: Easy access allows larger machines to do most of the work. In hard-to-reach areas, you’ll pay more for manual labor.

  • Gate and removal: Removing and replacing any existing fences will be factored in the final project cost.

In addition, handling the below materials may incur extra labor fees. 

Material Average Labor Cost per Hour
Wood and railroad ties $15 – $75
Stone veneer $30 – $75
Concrete blocks $60 – $75
Dry stacked stone $60 – $80
Poured concrete $60 – $80
Concrete bricks $60 – $90
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Materials 

Materials for a retaining wall range from $3 to $40 per square foot.

Material Type Average Price Range per Square Foot
Rammed earth/chalk $3 – $27
Gabion $4 – $40
Boulder/rock $8 – $12
Steel/metal $10 – $20
Stone veneer $11 – $15
Brick $14 – $15
Wood $15 – $25
Poured concrete $20 – $25

Retaining Wall Enhancements Costs

You have lots of options to accent or enhance your new retaining wall. Customizing your landscape can upgrade outdoor entertaining spaces and even increase your home resale value. 

Brick Veneer

Brick siding costs $9 to $28 per square foot. You can cut the price further by using thin brick. Your pro will attach the brick one wythe thick against the supporting wall, usually concrete or cinder block.

Stone Veneer

Stone veneers cost $35 to $50 per square foot on average, with some materials pushing $100 per square foot. It's often rock or concrete molded and colored to mimic rock. Faux stone (concrete) costs $5 to $15 per square foot to purchase and install. 

While natural veneers don’t offer more protection compared to concrete, they’re highly durable, resistant to pests and rot issues, and offer aesthetic benefits. They’re also low-maintenance and lightweight, making them much easier to install than full stone walls. Here are a few natural stone choices:

  • Sandstone

  • Limestone

  • Slate

  • Granite

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Concrete Retaining Wall Foundation

Poured concrete retaining walls may require an additional $30 to $100 per linear foot for foundations and pilings for the cost of concrete footing. You’ll need these for walls more than 4 feet high. They’re also necessary for large projects in climates with freeze and thaw cycles that might crack poured concrete. To avoid this price, consider using modular blocks, which allow for slight shifting.

If you want to add a kitchen or patio on top of your wall, you'll likely need to plan for a footing to help bear the extra weight. A few additions include:

Retaining Wall Costs by Location

Retaining wall costs vary slightly by location, primarily due to how much reinforcement they'll need to withstand forces applied to the earth they're holding back. Materials and size also play a large role.

  • Landscape retaining walls: $30–$150 per linear foot

  • Driveway retaining walls: $50–$150 per linear foot

  • Lake and seawalls: $125–$200 per linear foot

Cost to Replace a Retaining Wall

Replacing a retaining wall adds $2 to $6 per square foot for demolition and the cost of concrete removal

Service Average Price Range
Concrete demolition $2 – $6 per square foot
Land grading $900 – $3,000
Equipment $160 – $230 per day
Landscape architect $70 – $150 per hour

Cost to Repairi a Retaining Wall

Retaining wall repairs cost $800 to $1,000 on average. Large projects can run up to $20,000. Keep an eye out for leaks, cracks, and shifts. The faster you catch a problem, the lower your cost is likely to be.

DIY vs. Hiring a Wall Pro

While short walls under 4 feet can make a great DIY project, they can also be hard to get right. Improper installation can lead to structural failure, causing damage to the wall and the surrounding landscape. Some municipalities require an engineer for larger projects. 

“If the wall needs to be rebuilt, it’ll end up costing more in the long run, as the pro will have to disassemble and then reassemble as opposed to doing it correctly the first time around,” says Tara Dudley, Expert Review Board member and professional landscape designer.

FAQs

Do retaining walls add value to the home?

Retaining walls alone don’t always add value but almost always add curb appeal when combined with other landscaping. Comprehensive landscaping projects can add up to 15% to a home’s value, with an average return of 100% to 200%.

How long do retaining walls last?

Retaining walls last five to 100 years on average, depending on the material they’re made from:

  • Wood: 5–20 years

  • Concrete: 50–100 years

  • Metal: 20–100 years

What’s the cheapest way to build a retaining wall?

The least expensive option for a retaining wall is to DIY using concrete blocks or wood. However, anything over 4 feet tall will likely require you to call in a local retaining wall builder. Poured concrete is another cost-effective option for larger projects.

How do I know if I need a retaining wall?

You may want to consider adding a retaining wall to your property if you have concerns about soil erosion, drainage around a yard, or steep terrain that could be turned into more functional lawn space. Other times, a retaining wall is created more for aesthetic purposes, such as informal seating areas or improving curb appeal.

Do retaining walls need drainage?

Yes, retaining walls need drainage since excess water is the leading cause of wall erosion. If you have a retaining wall that’s 4 feet or taller or made from wood, poured concrete, or concrete blocks, it’s especially important to have a functioning drainage system. Drainage can help redirect rain and groundwater away to prevent rot and alleviate pressure from both the excess water and soil.

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