How much does it cost to repair a retaining wall?
Get free estimates from retaining wall contractors near you
Retaining Wall Repair Cost Guide
Updated: August 18, 2022
Retaining walls are essential on properties with hilly land or irregular landscaping to hold back higher soil and ease drainage. They can be made of various materials and are designed to be strong and sturdy, but cracks, holes, and crumbling mortar can still happen. When this occurs, you need to repair your wall.
The national average cost for repairing a retaining wall is between $250 and $1,250, with most homeowners paying around $750 to repair moderate crumbling on a 25’ long x 4’ high concrete retaining wall. This project’s low cost is $200 to repair 5 sq.ft. of wood rot on a damaged wood retaining wall. The high cost is $5,000 to rebuild a large section of an aggregate retaining wall.
Cost to Repair a Retaining Wall
|Retaining Wall Repair Price|
|National average cost||$750|
Cost to Repair a Retaining Wall by Material
Retaining walls can be made of many materials like stone, steel, and vinyl. The repair costs may be influenced by the wall material. Some materials are much less expensive and simpler to work with and replace than others. The table shows common materials and the average repair costs for each. This assumes a medium-sized retaining wall in each material.
|Vinyl||$200 - $550|
|Railroad Tie||$200 - $1,100|
|Gabion||$250 - $900|
|Concrete||$250 - $1,100|
|Timber||$250 - $1,100|
|Aggregate||$250 - $1,100|
|Steel||$250 - $1,100|
|Cinder Block||$300 - $1,250|
|Brick||$300 - $1,250|
|Stone||$300 - $1,600|
Vinyl Retaining Wall Repair
The average cost for vinyl retaining wall repairs is between $200 and $550. Vinyl is one of the cheapest materials. It is also relatively inexpensive to repair. However, it is one of the least durable materials and is prone to cracking and breaking, so it may need extra reinforcement with the standard patching.
Railroad Tie Retaining Wall Repair
Homeowners pay $200 to $1,100 for railroad tie retaining wall repairs. Railroad ties are a popular feature found in many retaining walls. They are large pieces of wood, typically stacked to form the wall. Railroad ties are strong and thicker than vinyl, but they rot when exposed to moisture and suffer from pests.
Repairing a gabion retaining wall costs $250 to $900. Because these are wire boxes filled with rocks, the weight can damage the gabion. While no extra drainage is needed and these walls cannot crack due to being made of flexible materials and many rocks, other issues can occur. Repairing these issues requires heavy equipment and is labor-intensive.
Concrete Retaining Wall Repair
Repairing a concrete retaining wall costs $250 to $1,100. Concrete is a popular material because it is strong and can be poured into the shape of each wall. However, it can crack and crumble from weathering and erosion, so it may need regular patching and sealing. These are common issues with concrete retaining walls. In other cases, a drainage system may need to be installed for this material. Four types of concrete retaining walls exist, and the cost to repair them varies based on the type. Shotcrete is the least expensive, followed by cement, precast concrete, and poured concrete is the most expensive.
|Type of Concrete||Average Cost|
|Shotcrete||$250 - $750|
|Cement||$400 - $850|
|Precast Concrete||$500 - $1,000|
|Poured Concrete||$600 - $1,100|
Repairing a timber retaining wall costs $250 to $1,100. While timber walls look nice and are quick to install, they have a shorter lifespan than some materials. The most common issue is rotting, which must be handled quickly because rot spreads across the entire wall. Bowing and leaning are also possible with timber.
Aggregate Retaining Wall Repair
Homeowners pay $250 to $1,100 to repair their aggregate retaining wall. Aggregate retaining walls are made from small materials compressed under high pressure to form a solid structure. These walls are tough but may buckle under immense pressure, so they may need to be anchored and reinforced with patching and repair.
Steel Retaining Wall Repair
Repairing steel retaining walls costs $250 to $1,100. Steel is good due to its immense strength. It can be used in thin layers to hold back large amounts of soil. Steel may get dented and damaged from accidents and impacts, so these walls might require straightening and possible anchoring and reinforcement. Some steel types also rust, so frequent maintenance may be needed.
Homeowners pay between $300 and $1,250 to repair their cinder block retaining wall. They are good for interlocking or segmented walls. These blocks give the wall an attractive look with many colors and styles but have issues with drainage and may lean from pressure. Cinder and concrete blocks often need drainage placed, or cracks and holes may need to be repaired. Retaining walls can be made using concrete or cinder blocks, and the cost of repairs depends on the wall type.
|Type of Block||Average Cost|
|Cinder Blocks||$300 - $1,000|
|Concrete Blocks||$500 - $1,250|
Brick Retaining Wall Repair
Repairing a brick retaining wall costs $300 to $1,250. Brick is another popular material. It has a traditional look and feel and can make walls of different lengths and sizes. However, the mortar can crumble and wear, causing drainage issues. They need regular maintenance and patching when holes appear.
Stone Retaining Wall Repair
Repairing a stone retaining wall costs $300 to $1,600. Stones are often stacked to form attractive and versatile walls. They are strong and withstand pressure from the soil. However, they can have drainage issues and may need straightening and reinforcing if the stones are pushed out. These same issues are present in all stone types, but some are less susceptible. For example, stone veneer is less likely to stain, crumble, or experience weather damage. Many stone retaining walls are available, including granite, natural stone, stone veneer, and limestone. The prices for repairs to each are listed in the table below.
|Type of Stone||Average Cost|
|Granite||$300 - $1,000|
|Natural Stone||$500 - $1,250|
|Stone Veneer||$600 - $1,400|
|Limestone||$750 - $1,600|
Cost to Repair a Retaining Wall by Type of Problem
Many things can go wrong with a retaining wall. Cracks and crumbling sections may appear, or foundation issues might arise. The wall might also start to lean or bow, or water might be spotted seeping through it. Most issues can be fixed, but the costs vary depending on the labor and materials needed for each problem. The table below shows common issues and average repair costs.
|Type of Problem||Average Cost|
|Wood Rot||$40 - $60/sq.ft.|
|Crumbled Foundation||$40 - $75/linear foot|
|Crack||$150 - $400|
|Efflorescence||$150 - $850|
|Crumbling||$150 - $1,250|
|Water Seeping Through||$150 - $1,250|
|Bowing||$250 - $1,500|
|Leaning||$250 - $1,500|
Repair Rotted Railroad Ties
The average cost to repair rotted railroad ties is between $40 and $60 per sq.ft. Railroad ties are wood, so they may rot if regularly exposed to moisture without adequate sealing and maintenance. The wall is assessed before the repair option is determined. Vegetation is removed before equipment is set up for the process. Rotted sections must be removed and replaced.
Crumbled Retaining Wall Foundation Repair
Costs average $40 to $75 per linear foot to repair the foundation. This area can be exposed to dirt, debris, and water, so it might crumble and wear, leading to a need for reinforcement or rebuilding. Damaged sections must be patched, and some parts may need to be rebuilt to ensure a functional retaining wall. Foundations can also experience leaning and bowing, typically handled through anchoring.
Retaining Wall Crack Repair
Homeowners pay between $150 and $400 for crack repairs. This is one of the most common repair types, and it is normal to notice cracks in your wall. These cracks are usually caused by weathering damage and can get bigger if not fixed, so act fast when you spot a crack and patch it. Leaving it alone can lead to larger holes and structural integrity issues.
Costs range from $150 to $850 for efflorescence repair. You might notice a white powder if your wall is made from bricks or concrete. This is efflorescence and a sign that moisture is seeping through the wall. There might be cracks and holes that need patching or require a new drainage system like weep holes or drain pipes to remove excess water. Both need to be done in some cases.
Crumbling Retaining Wall
Homeowners pay between $150 and $1,250 for crumbling repairs. The price mostly depends on how much of the wall is crumbling because larger sections require additional materials and labor, leading to a higher repair bill. Sections may crumble due to worn mortar or cracks, so they usually must be patched and reinforced to prevent damage. Larger sections of walls with damage lead to a higher cost.
Water Seeping Through a Retaining Wall
If water seeps through the retaining wall, expect to pay $150 to $1,250 to repair it. The total repair cost depends on what damage has been done to allow water to seep through. Water could pass through a small crack that can be patched cheaply, or the wall might have several cracks or crumbling areas that need repairing. It is typically less expensive to repair small holes or cracks than large ones.
Bowing Retaining Wall
The cost for bowing retaining wall repairs averages $250 to $1,500 per project, depending on the extent of repairs needed. A bowing retaining wall can be a worrying sight, and it might be bowing from foundation problems or excessive pressure. Anchors and tiebacks fix this problem, and superficial damage should also be patched.
Fix a Leaning Retaining Wall
The average cost to repair a leaning retaining wall, also called a sagging retaining wall, is between $250 and $1,500 per project, depending on how many repairs are required. Leaning walls can be repaired with tiebacks. Also called dead-man anchors, tiebacks are a wire or rod used to reinforce or anchor retaining walls. They attach at one end to the wall and the other to another stable structure like a piece of concrete secured deep into the ground.
Cost to Fix a Retaining Wall by Solution
Contractors and repairmen might use various repair methods like straightening, reinforcing, and anchoring when repairing retaining walls. They usually analyze the damage before deciding on the correct solution, and certain repair solutions cost more than others. The table below shows common solutions and the average costs of each.
|Reinforce||$50 - $75/linear foot|
|Straighten||$60 - $80/linear foot|
|Anchor||$60 - $80/linear foot|
|Drainage Addition||$70 - $90/sq.ft.|
|Rebuild||$70 - $125/linear foot|
Straightening a retaining wall costs $60 to $80 per linear foot. You may need to straighten a retaining wall if it is leaning and seems like it may fall. Walls that are not straight often buckle and fall if left unattended, so have them straightened for safety and aesthetic reasons. Tiebacks are usually used to straighten walls.
The average cost to straighten a retaining wall ranges from $50 to $70 per linear foot. You may need to straighten a retaining wall if it is leaning and seems like it may fall down. Walls that are not straight often buckle and fall if left unattended, so have them straightened for safety and aesthetic reasons. Tiebacks are usually used to straighten walls.
Helical anchors for a retaining wall repair cost $60 to $80 per linear foot. Anchoring is used when retaining walls bow or lean. According to Bob Vila, it is a method involving tiebacks or anchor points to pull the wall back against the soil, anchoring and preventing it from falling. A helix-shaped blade creates an anchor, and special equipment drives it into the wall before an adapter is attached and the hole is patched. A plate, usually steel, is placed and secured to complete the process.
The average cost of adding drainage to an existing retaining wall is between $70 and $90 per sq.ft. Drainage is important because water builds in the soil, putting pressure on the structure. This can make cracks and holes more likely. Drainage can be added in various forms, such as weep holes or drainage pipes.
Rebuild a Retaining Wall
Expect to pay between $70 and $125 per linear foot when rebuilding a retaining wall. This covers removing old or damaged sections and rebuilding new sections. Rebuilding is often seen as a last resort repair option and is only used when the damage is too much to be fixed in conventional ways like patching and reapplying mortar or other materials.
Labor Cost to Repair a Retaining Wall
Contractors charge $50 to $200 per hour for repairing retaining walls, and some have flat fees for certain jobs. Rates vary by state, and some contractors may also charge a call-out fee of $50 to $100 to visit your home and look at the damage. Labor costs can also vary according to season, wall type, and demand for labor. This fee may be waived if the homeowner hires the same contractor for the work.
Contact a residential structural engineer to assess the damage if it is severe. These workers charge between $100 and $200 per hour. The engineer could recommend a contractor from their network for the necessary repairs. It is also worth noting that contractors and engineers may charge extra if they have to travel a long distance to get to your property.
Retaining Wall Inspection Cost
Retaining wall inspections usually range between $150 and $300, and experts recommend inspecting them every 3 to 5 years. If the wall is older or faces a public right-of-way, it may be wise to inspect it more regularly. Inspections are essential because they ensure the wall is maintained and without failure. If a problem is discovered, repairs can be made to prevent property damage or injury to someone near the wall. During an inspection, an expert inspects the wall closely and looks for signs of damage or weaknesses that may need addressing, providing a full report of their findings.
The ideal long-lasting wall is one that is maintained well. This prevents issues like cracks and crumbling. After retaining wall repair services, regularly inspect the wall for issues. Check for missing mortar, cracks, and leaning so these problems can be fixed early before the job is more challenging.
When inspecting the area, look for eroded areas where the soil is gone because this can cause pools that cause additional damage. Not having enough soil can cut the wall’s durability and strength. Adding plants at the top of the wall can be useful.
Once the repair is complete, and the mortar has dried, the wall should be cleaned by wiping dirt and debris. Check the drainage pipe and move the debris every 3 months to avoid further blockages. This may need to be done more frequently in the winter because ice and snow can get into the pipe.
Cost to Repair vs Replace a Retaining Wall
Homeowners may be faced with a decision between repairing or replacing their wall. When making this decision, cost is usually the biggest factor. If the costs of your repairs are expected to be low, it is usually best to opt for repairs rather than replacement. However, consider a replacement if the damage to your wall is extensive or the wall is over 50 years old. Other factors come into play in some cases. For example, a homeowner might replace a wall with a new style or size.
The average cost to build a new retaining wall is between $3,500 and $10,000, and you may have to add $250 to $1,250 to cover removing the existing structure. So, the cost of replacing a wall can be very high. However, it can be a good choice for bowing or leaning walls, large cracks, a crumbling wall, or a wall that has largely separated. On the other hand, small leaks, cracks, and movement can usually be repaired for a lower cost.
|Type of Project||Average Cost|
|Repair||$250 - $1,250|
|Replace||$3,500 - $10,000|
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Remove a Retaining Wall
Homeowners pay $500 to $1,500 to remove a retaining wall. The price mostly depends on the size, with larger walls costing more to remove because of the extra work to demolish and remove the sections. Retaining walls may need to be removed due to redevelopment projects or if the existing wall is badly damaged and needs replacing.
Paint a Retaining Wall
Painting a retaining wall costs $300 to $1,000. The painter will clean, prepare, and paint the wall. The main factor affecting the price is size. Larger walls require more time, effort, and paint, so they usually cost more than smaller ones. Painting a retaining wall is a good way to spruce it up and adds protection against moisture and the elements.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Type of retaining wall. While retaining wall repairs vary by material and size, the retaining wall type does not impact the cost. Having a gravity or sheet piling retaining wall repaired is the same as other walls like anchored, segmental, and rammed earth.
- Permit. Depending on the size and location, a permit may be necessary before making repairs, replacements, or alterations. Speak with the local building authority to learn more before making repairs.
- DIY. Homeowners can do some basic maintenance and repairs like filling cracks and replacing missing sections of mortar. However, hiring professionals for repair is recommended because these walls require expert techniques.
- Different quotes. Get a few quotes to find the best value on your retaining wall repairs, and ensure your contractors are licensed and experienced in working on retaining walls.
- Insurance. Retaining walls are often classed as detached structures in homeowners insurance policies and should be covered in the case of various damages like damage from fire, storms, or vehicles. Look at your policy details to see if it covers retaining wall repairs.
- Site preparation. The site may need to be leveled or excavated before major retaining wall repairs or alterations are done, especially when the homeowner plans to replace large sections or the entire wall. This is something to discuss with your contractor and could add extra costs.
- Steepness. The steeper the area where the retaining wall is located, the higher the prices may be for repairs. It is more challenging to do the work when the wall is steep. This can also be a consideration for maintenance because it is more difficult to complete the process.
- Emergency repairs. This is considered an emergency repair if a retaining wall needs to be repaired on an evening or weekend. Most companies that do retaining wall repairs charge a fee for visiting during these times. This adds $200 to $500 to the regular repair costs.
- Can a leaning retaining wall be repaired?
Yes, you can usually repair leaning retaining walls. They might need to be strengthened by transferring some force to the base, and contractors might also use anchors or tiebacks to reinforce a leaning wall.
- How long do retaining walls last?
This depends on the materials and other factors, such as the soil quality and climate. On average, retaining walls should last from 50 to 100 years.
- Does my retaining wall need drainage?
Yes, drainage is essential because water usually cannot pass through the wall. Without drainage, pressure builds up in the soil behind the wall, making it more likely to break or crack.
- Does homeowners insurance cover retaining wall damage?
Yes, most homeowners insurance policies classify retaining walls as detached structures and usually cover them in case of damages from perils like fire, lightning, and vehicles.
- How do you fix a failing retaining wall?
A professional may use several methods to fix a failing retaining wall. It can be reinforced, straightened, or anchored. In some cases, a drainage addition is made, or the retaining wall is rebuilt. The correct option depends on the type of damage to the retaining wall.
- Can a cracked retaining wall be repaired?
Yes, a crack in a retaining wall can be repaired by a professional. Reinforcing the wall by adding concrete can patch the holes and make the wall last longer. If the cracks are substantial and other problems are present, rebuilding the wall may be required.
- What causes vertical cracks in retaining walls?
Several things cause vertical cracks in a retaining wall. These include harsh weather, moving soil causing the wall to shift, a poor design, pressure from wet soil, or inadequate or improper drainage.