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Retaining Walls

Cosmetic repairs for retaining walls

Today, we’re going to take a look at a large retaining wall. So retaining walls can come in different sizes, maybe 18 inches holding back the dirt of a small garden planter. Or in this case, and we’ll get a shot of this back here in just a moment, this is holding back an entire yard. So this retaining wall is 12 to 15 feet in height and literally holding back the entire yard of this home.rnrnOne of the problems that we can have on retaining walls is the water that will get on the dirt side of it does seep through the cinder block, which this is made out of, and then begins to erode and degrade the stucco that is on the top of that surface here. So you can see this crack here. We’ve got a couple others I’m going to show you in just a minute, as I go around and explain what we’re going to do to fix this problem.

Retaining wall cracks

A couple of mentions as we begin this process. So what we’re doing here today is strictly a cosmetic fix. This is not a structural thing that we’re fixing. We’re not tearing down this wall and restarting from scratch, so the existing structural integrity is still there. It’s still sound, but we’re not able to do structural items on this. So this is purely cosmetic to get this done. With that said, we want it to last as long as possible. With retaining walls, however, these are high-maintenance items, because water ruins everything with paint and these kind of materials, so it is just a really destructive force.


Inspecting the damaged retaining wall areas

All right, as we begin this process, this is a little shorter section of it here, probably about eight to 10 feet tall, and you can see some of these cracks are pretty significant in here. It’s just right along that stair-step of where those cinder blocks are. And let me walk down here. You can see where also much of the paint and some of the prior stucco has been removed from this area. And as I come around, you can again see just how big this retaining wall is. It’s holding back quite a bit of earth in here, and you can see in this area right in here, where it’s literally just coming away from the CMU, which is Concrete Masonry Unit. So we’ve gotten quite a bit of this off. Still have some work to do, removing the remaining stucco that’s attached there. And here’s the other big crack that we’re going to be working on, right in here. rnrn


Grinding and removing the loose stucco

So what we are going to do to fix this is we are going to use a grinder to get this going, and we’re going to remove all of the stucco that’s in there. We’re going to use a grinder to get these a little bit more feathered-out, because there’s about a quarter-inch difference of where it shifted in there. We’ll get this all done, and then we’ll be back. So John, go ahead and let’s start that process. Back in just a second.rnrnOkay, we’re taking a break for just a minute on the grinding. What we’re going to do is use a scraper to get some of these other bigger chunks off. One of my crew leaders, Edwin, is going to be doing that. Go ahead and show us how we’re doing that there, Edwin, of getting some of these chunks off. So you can just see. The stuff is just coming off of there. What we want to do is get all of that loose stucco off of there. Now, what we don’t want to do is create any problems. We’re not going to tear things off that aren’t going to come off, but we want to get all of that off. So he’s going to continue to work on this wall. It’s going to take a bit of time to get it good and cleaned up. And then as we finish the grinding and the cleaning of the rest of this wall, we’ll come back, take a look at how we’re going to apply the new stucco onto this wall.rnrnWe’re back, after we’ve completed this repair. So what we’ve done is we’ve used a grinder to get this as smooth to these two sides as possible. It’s not a perfect match, because we’re going to put some additional material over here to float it out so it’s smooth. But we wanted a surface that was at least fairly well prepared in here, so we could do the next steps of this process. So we do have this entire wall. You’re going to see this here in a moment. We’re going to concentrate on this crack first.rn


Filling a retaining wall crack

The first thing we’re going to do is put in some smooth, flexible patch. That’s actually a Dunn-Edwards product for us. Inside this crack. We’re then going to use this mesh material, which has a stickiness to it, and it’s specifically made to help with these types of cracks within stucco. That’ll go over this entire area, and then we’ll begin to apply stucco to this. And remember, when we’re doing these videos, this is not meant as a do-it-yourself-style video. This is for our customers, as they have some issues or concerns, and we want to show them the process that we use, generally, for doing this. So we’re going to get to it here in just one second. I’ll be right back.rnrnAll right, we’re back, and we have John, who is one of our crew leads. He’s actually the crew lead on this project. He’s going to start filling that crack again. This is a flexible material, so it’s going to help in any movement within that crack. This is a very large crack. You can see this wall size is a good 12 feet high, and on the back side of this is dirt, the entire way. So it is holding back a lot of pressure and force. This particular wall, we believe, is about 30 or so years old, so it’s held up very well. And again, these repairs that we are doing are primarily cosmetic. There’s not much that we are able to do with these types of materials in making permanent fixes.rnrnSo if this wall shifts again, if there is movement within the earth there, these walls will again crack, although our hope is, especially with the mesh, you won’t be able to see that as much from the outside. So the structural stability will still stay good in there. So we’re going to let John get all done with this, and then we’re going to get that mesh up, so we’ll be back in just a moment.rn


Mesh and mortar

All right, so we’re back. We’ve got that hole filled, and now we’re putting on this mesh product in here. It’s actually a self-adhesive mesh in here. So we’re going to finish getting this on and all set up, and then we’ll be right back to show you the next step with the mortar that we’ll put on.rnrnAll right, so we’ve got this mesh completely on, and we’ve now started with a mortar scratch coat. So there’s typically two different layers of mortar or stucco that are put on. First is this scratch coat. There’s a little bit more adhesive on here, so what we’re attempting to do on here is just get that all filled in, and we want this initial coat. This is not what it’s going to look like when it’s all done. It’s going to look a little bit more like this finish here, which is more of a medium sand finish or so. So John’s going to continue working on this for about 10, 15 minutes and get all this coat on. We’re going to let that dry, and then we’re going to come back after about an hour or so and get that top coat on. So we will see you in just a few minutes.rn


Top coat of stucco

All right, now we’re back. As you can see, that crack that we just had there a little bit ago is looking really great. This is still a scratch coat that we have on there. There’s lots of other work still to do in here. We just wanted to give you a sample of what this is going to look like. So now we’re going to be starting to put the top coat on here, and John’s going to be starting that here real quick, as we get that mud finished, getting prepared and ready to go. There he is, ready to go.rnrnSo what we’re doing now is just getting this top coat on there, and then to create the proper texture, we’re going to have a little sponge that we’re going to use to get that all done. So what we’re going to let John do is just go ahead and get that initial coat on there and get that floated out. And then we’re going to come back and take a look at that final product of this area, and then we’re going to let it dry for at least a day, and then we’re going to come back and prime and paint that. So we’ll be back in just a few minutes and see what that final product looks like there.


Primer coat and paint

All right, we’re back, and as you can see, we have this final stucco coat here that’s been done. So we repaired that crack that was here, filled it. We put on the mesh, a scratch coat, and then this final coat. What we’re going to start doing is then put on a primer coat from here and two top coats. And then after that’s done, then you’ll see a photo, a video of the final product, from when we started several minutes ago to what you’re going to see now. So come on in here, Shea. He’s behind the camera. Let’s take a look and see what we have right in there, the look of that finish. So very good. We’re going to have John start spraying a primer coat, and then we’ll be right back. rnrnSo there we go with John getting that primer coat sprayed on this. So on this, we’re actually using a product called EFF-STOP from Dunn-Edwards. We’re going to get a good coat of that on. Then we’re going to top-coat it. In this case, actually, the color is actually pretty close to that primer color. So we’re going to let John finish this up here, and we’ll be back in a couple hours, after this is all complete.rn


Final look at the repaired retaining wall

Okay, we’re back, and as you can see, we finished priming and putting two coats of paint on this. It really has turned out well. As I said when we started this process, because of the size of this retaining wall, most of the repairs that we were doing were cosmetic in nature. So we did a few things, like the mesh that will help to prevent that from returning, but if they do get any large movements in this wall, there’s nothing that any of the repairs that we made are going to be able to keep that from coming back. But for now, as you can see, this wall looks great. I’m going to take a little walk over here, and where we had much of that peeling paint up in here, it has all been re-textured and repainted and really looks excellent.rnrnSo thanks for watching this video. This is on a retaining wall. This is a much larger-than-normal retaining wall. The ones that we normally deal with are normally two to three feet tall, but it’s the same kind of idea, and it gave you a chance to see what a large repair would be on this type of a surface. So if you do have any questions, feel free to give us a call at (602) 540-7471. And thanks again from all of us at Crash of Rhinos Painting.rn