We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Cantilever Retaining Wall?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A cantilever retaining wall is a form of masonry installation that holds a large amount of earth in place. The cantilever design is just one of several variations on a retaining wall design, using various principles to manage earth loads. Engineers evaluate a specific area to see which kind of retaining wall is the best choice for keeping earth loads in place.

A concrete cantilever retaining wall uses a relatively thin stem of steel-reinforced, cast-in-place, concrete or mortared masonry. In a cantilever retaining wall design, an earth pressure vector acts horizontally against the side of the wall. The bottom part of the wall presents a gravity vector downward. That gravity vector produces an opposite force upward. The resulting vector counters the earth pressure vector, and pushes back against the earth load.

The bottom element of a cantilever retaining wall is covered by the earth load. That means that a casual observer will not be able to see whether a retaining wall has a cantilever design. Blueprints or other official documents can show whether a retaining wall was installed with a cantilever design.

In most public or commercial projects, and the majority of residential projects, a cantilever retaining wall design, or other similar project, needs to be presented to local zoning officials to make sure it complements certain criteria for an area. Some of these include storm-water runoff plans and public safety codes. Professional engineers will also look at whether the retaining wall has sufficient structure to handle the lateral earth pressure mentioned above.

Another aspect that engineers evaluate in retaining wall design is the potential to moderate the effects of a landslide or avalanche. Retaining walls can be helpful in protecting soil against the kinds of movement associated with these natural disasters. Looking at landslide risk and the risk of liquefaction, the water saturation of earth, is part of assessing how a retaining wall works.

In properties of historic significance, an original stone retaining wall may benefit from being renovated into a cantilever design, or similar structure. In new housing communities, a local zoning or other government board may require a retaining wall on a property in order to satisfy concerns about the grading or changing topography of an area. Looking at various retaining wall choices helps a building company or other party to assess the overall costs of dealing with an area containing a slope or grade.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.