Ashburn, VA

How much does a retaining wall cost?

$20 – $50 cost per square foot
$40 – $300 cost per linear foot (2’ to 6’ tall)
$4,000 – $10,000 average total cost (50’ long wall)

Get free estimates from retaining wall builders near you, or view our cost guide below.

December 8, 2021

Reviewed by Tom Grupa and 5 expert retaining wall builders on HomeGuide.

Retaining wall cost

The average cost to build a retaining wall is $20 to $50 per square foot or $40 to $300 per linear foot. Installing a 50’ long retaining wall costs $4,000 to $10,000 on average. Retaining wall labor costs $10 to $30 per square foot and material prices are $5 to $20 per square foot on average.

Average retaining wall cost - chart
Average retaining wall cost - chart

Retaining wall cost calculator
Linear feet 2’ tall 4’ tall 6’ tall
10’ $400 – $1,000 $800 – $2,000 $1,200 – $3,000
15’ $600 – $1,500 $1,200 – $3,000 $1,800 – $4,500
25’ $1,000 – $2,500 $2,000 – $5,000 $3,000 – $7,500
50’ $2,000 – $5,000 $4,000 – $10,000 $6,000 – $15,000
100’ $4,000 – $10,000 $8,000 – $20,000 $12,000 – $30,000
150’ $6,000 – $15,000 $12,000 – $30,000 $18,000 – $45,000
200’ $8,000 – $20,000 $16,000 – $40,000 $24,000 – $60,000

Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.


Cost to build a retaining wall by type

The cost to build a retaining wall is $4,000 to $10,000 on average or $20 to $50 per square foot, depending on the material, size, and construction method.

Cost to build a retaining wall per square foot - chart
Cost to build a retaining wall per square foot - chart

Cost to build a retaining wall by type
Wall material Cost per square foot
Wood $10 – $40
Stone $10 – $85
Block $15 – $55
Metal $15 – $150
Concrete $20 – $45
Brick $30 – $60

*Total cost installed.

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Retaining wall cost per square foot

A retaining wall costs $20 to $50 per square foot on average or up to $150 per square foot for complex layouts, specialty materials, and sloped or limited-access sites.

Cost per square foot to build a retaining wall
Wall type Total cost per square foot
Cinder block (CMU) $20 – $35
Poured concrete $20 – $45
Rammed earth $20 – $30
Precast panels $25 – $40
Interlocking modular $15 – $35
Brick $30 – $60
Lock and load $25 – $55
Large concrete blocks $20 – $45
Dry stack stone $20 – $85
Boulder rock $25 – $50
Gabion $10 – $40
Wood and timber $10 – $40
Railroad tie $20 – $30
COR-TEN® steel $35 – $135
I-beam $35 – $150
Sheet piling $15 – $30
Stone veneer wall $30 – $80
Landscaping wall $15 – $30
Driveway retaining wall $30 – $60
Seawall $50 – $100

*Prices include materials & installation.

Cost to build a retaining wall by height

A 6-foot to 8-foot-high retaining wall costs $120 to $400 per linear foot on average. Building a 10-foot to 20-foot-high retaining wall costs $200 to $1,000 per linear foot and typically includes multiple stacked terrace levels.

Retaining wall cost by height
Height (feet) Cost per linear foot
4’ $80 – $200
6’ $120 – $300
8’ $160 – $400
10’ $200 – $500
20’ $400 – $1,000

*Total cost installed.

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Timber or wood retaining wall cost

A wood retaining wall costs $10 to $40 per square foot, depending on the site preparation, wood type, and design. Timber materials prices fluctuate according to local availability.

Wood retaining wall cost
Wood type Cost per square foot
Wood and timber $10 – $40
Railroad tie $20 – $30

*Total cost installed.

Railroad-tie retaining wall cost

A railroad-tie retaining wall costs $20 to $30 per square foot installed. Railroad-tie walls are easy to build but only last 10 to 20 years due to rotting and pest damages. Some local homeowner’s associations don’t allow creosote-treated railroad ties due to potential health hazards.

Railroad tie retaining wall installed
Railroad tie retaining wall installed

Block, brick, or concrete retaining wall cost

  • A concrete retaining wall costs $20 to $45 per square foot installed, depending on the material and construction method.
  • Installing a stacked-block or brick wall costs $15 to $60 per square foot, depending on the block type, size, and complexity.
Block, brick, or concrete retaining wall cost
Wall type Cost per square foot
Poured concrete $20 – $45
Concrete cinder blocks (CMU) $20 – $35
Interlocking concrete blocks $15 – $35
Bricks $30 – $60
Lock + Load brand blocks $25 – $55
Large concrete blocks (2’ to 6’ wide) $20 – $45
Rammed-earth mix $20 – $30
Precast panels $25 – $40

*Total cost installed.

  • A poured concrete retaining wall costs $20 to $45 per square foot installed.
  • Building a segmental retaining wall costs $15 to $35 per square foot. An interlocking concrete block retaining wall costs $45 to $210 per linear foot for 3’ to 6’ tall walls. Most systems are mortarless.
  • A Lock + Load brand retaining wall costs $25 to $55 per square foot installed. These modular-type block walls work well in earthquake-prone areas, commercial applications, and on slopes.

Precast concrete retaining wall for landscaping
Precast concrete retaining wall for landscaping

Cinder block retaining wall cost

A cinder block retaining wall costs $60 to $210 per linear foot for walls 3’ to 6’ tall, or $20 to $35 per square foot. Total costs depend on the wall size, foundation depth, wall finish, and the amount of grout filling and rebar reinforcements.

Brick retaining wall cost

A brick retaining wall costs $30 to $60 per square foot installed. These reinforced walls typically consist of poured concrete or cinder blocks with a single layer of face bricks on the outside.

Rammed earth / Earth chalk retaining wall prices

A rammed-earth or chalk retaining wall costs $20 to $30 per square foot installed. These walls consist of highly compacted clay, sand, and often cement. Installers typically reinforce these retaining walls with rebar for extra strength.

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Stone retaining wall cost

A large stone retaining wall costs $10 to $85 per square foot on average, depending on the choice of stones, design, and installation method.

Stone retaining wall cost
Type Cost per square foot Details
Dry-stack stone $20 – $85 Common materials include fieldstone, limestone, keystone, and slate installed on a compacted-gravel base without mortar.
Boulder rock $25 – $50 Rock retaining walls are typically less than 4’ tall, don’t need drains, and require site access for an excavator.
Gabion $10 – $40 These rock-filled wire boxes are quick to install, require little maintenance, and easily adapt to shifting landscapes.

*Total cost installed.

Dry-stacked stone retaining wall in backyard
Dry-stacked stone retaining wall in backyard

Metal or steel retaining wall cost

A metal or steel retaining wall costs $15 to $150 per square foot installed, depending on the type and installation method.

Metal or steel retaining wall cost
Metal type Cost per square foot
Corten steel $35 – $135
I-beam $35 – $150
Sheet piling $15 – $50

*Prices include materials & labor.

Metal steel retaining wall and steps
Metal steel retaining wall and steps

COR-TEN steel retaining wall cost

A COR-TEN® steel retaining wall costs $35 to $135 per square foot installed. This weathering steel forms a stable, protective rust coating that doesn’t require maintenance. However, COR-TEN® steel is not suitable for areas with high humidity, standing water, or near coastlines.

Install a concrete or wooden wall faced with a thin layer of Corten steel to save up to 50% of the cost.

I-beam retaining wall cost

Building an I-beam retaining wall costs $35 to $150 per square foot, depending on the depth and design. I-beam retaining walls, or “soldier pile walls”, are ideal for supporting the heavier weights of decks or pools built on hillside properties.

Sheet-piling retaining wall cost

A sheet-piling retaining wall costs $15 to $50 per square foot installed. Most sheet-pile walls are steel, thinner than most other wall materials, and have concrete or wood caps on top.

  • Ideal for retaining soil on shorelines
  • Galvanized or vinyl-coated steel types for wet climates and coastal areas
  • Requires space for installation with heavy machinery

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Cost factors to install a retaining wall

The cost to install a retaining wall depends on site conditions and many other cost factors:

  • Size – Taller, longer, and thicker walls need stronger foundations and additional reinforcements than basic garden walls.
  • Design – Complex walls with curves, steps, openings, and other designs increase labor time.
  • Site prep
  • Excavation – Removing old retaining walls and dirt costs $125 to $225 per cubic yard, including disposal.
  • Foundation ­– Concrete footings cost $18 to $55 per linear foot, depending on the wall type, size, depth, and soil conditions.
  • Reinforcements – Adding steel rebar costs $2.50 to $5.00+ per square foot more to increase strength, comply with local building codes, and protect from earthquakes.
  • Location – Labor costs are typically higher in metropolitan areas.
  • Site access – Working on slopes, hard-to-access sites, limited access for heavy machinery, and removing gates increases labor time.
  • Backfill – Additional fill dirt costs $150 to $600 per truckload delivered or $15 to $50 per yard.
  • Delivery – Stone, brick, or concrete block delivery costs $30 to $100 per truckload on average.
  • Drainage – Installing a drainage system costs $10 to $30 per linear foot to prevent flooding and erosion.
  • Permits – A permit costs $50 to $450 on average, depending on the wall type, size, and location.
  • Planning – Retaining wall engineering costs $100 to $500 per hour for design plans from a structural engineer or landscape architect.
  • LandscapingLandscaping costs $50 to $100 per hour for additional yard work or repairs.
  • Landscaping fabric – Landscaping fabric costs $0.30 to $1.00 per square foot to lay behind the retaining wall.
  • Land survey – A property line survey costs $380 to $540.
  • Waterproofing – Sealing walls costs $2 to $10 per square foot.

Retaining wall labor cost

The labor cost for building a retaining wall is $40 to $80 per hour or $10 to $30 per square foot, depending on the location, wall type, construction method, and complexity.

Retaining wall labor cost
Labor type Labor cost
Per hour $40 – $80
Per square foot $10 – $30

*Labor cost only.

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Retaining wall blocks and materials prices

Retaining wall block and material prices are $5 to $20 per square foot on average. The cost of concrete blocks for retaining walls is $1 to $10 per block or $2 to $20 per square foot without installation.

Retaining wall blocks price list
Material Cost per square foot
Cinder blocks (CMU) $2 – $3
Interlocking concrete blocks $4 – $20
Large concrete blocks $6 – $8
Poured concrete $4 – $7
Wood / timber / railroad ties $6 – $10
Boulder rock $15 – $35
Stacked stone $10 – $45
Stone veneer $6 – $24
Gabion (Aggregate) $5 – $20
Brick $4 – $9
Steel / metal $10 – $20
Rammed earth / chalk $10 – $15

*All prices excluding installation labor.

Cost of building a retaining wall on a slope

Building a retaining wall on a slope costs $25 to $100 per square foot. Building a sloped-backyard retaining wall costs up to twice as much in labor due to:

  • Extra excavation
  • Leveling and compacting soil to create terraces
  • Installing wall materials at an angle with tie-back reinforcements
Cost of building a retaining wall on a slope
Terrain Cost per square foot
Flat land $20 – $50
Moderate slope $25 – $75
Steep hill $40 – $100

*Includes material and installation.

Retaining wall finishing costs

Adding granite, brick, or stone veneer to an existing retaining wall costs $10 to $45 per square foot extra. Concrete cinder-block walls typically form the base of veneer-coated walls. Stamping concrete retaining walls costs $3 to $5 per square foot to add a design to existing walls.

Retaining wall finishing costs
Finish type Cost per square foot
Stone veneer costs $10 – $45
Brick veneer costs $8 – $18
Granite $19 – $45
Slate $15 – $35
Stucco costs $3 – $9

*Materials & labor cost for adding to existing walls.

Additional retaining wall options costs

A retaining wall tends to connect to a larger landscaping design that sometimes extends all around the property. Additional retaining wall options to add on include:

  • Fencing – The cost to fence a yard is $5 to $25 per linear foot.
  • Deck – The cost to build a deck is $4,400 to $10,000 on average.
  • Patio – A concrete patio costs $1,200 to $4,300 on average.
  • GrassSod installation costs $0.90 to $1.80 per square foot.
  • Mural art – Murals cost $10 to $40 per square foot for a custom wall finish.
  • Outdoor kitchen – An outdoor kitchen costs $2,000 to $20,000 on average.
  • Lighting – Outdoor lighting costs $2,000 to $5,000 on average or $200 to $500 per fixture.

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Cost to rebuild or replace a retaining wall

The cost to rebuild or replace a retaining wall is $30 to $70 per square foot, depending on the size, material, and site accessibility. Removing a retaining wall alone costs $10 to $20 per square foot. Debris disposal costs $125 to $225 per cubic yard extra.

Cost to rebuild or replace a retaining wall
Work type Cost per square foot
Remove old wall $10 – $20
Install new wall $20 – $50
Total $30 – $70

Retaining wall repair cost

Retaining wall repair costs $200 to $1,000 on average, depending on the size, wall type, and damage severity. Old retaining walls with extensive damage often need replacing with excavation work.

Retaining wall cost estimator by location

Retaining wall costs depend on the installation location, purpose, and reinforcements required.

Retaining wall cost estimator by location
Wall type Cost per linear foot
Landscaping wall (1.0’ to 1.5’ tall) $15 – $45
Driveway retaining wall (1’ to 2’ tall) $30 – $120
Seawall (3’ to 6’ tall) $150 – $600

*Prices include materials and labor.

Landscaping wall cost

Installing a landscaping wall costs $15 to $45 per linear foot for 1.0’ to 1.5’ tall garden walls. Landscaping walls for decorative purposes typically don’t require a foundation. Common materials include bricks or concrete blocks.

Driveway retaining wall cost

A driveway retaining wall costs $30 to $120 per linear foot for 1’ to 2’ tall walls made of natural stone or interlocking concrete blocks, depending on the size and slope.

Revetment wall cost (lake/seawall)

Building a 100’ long sea wall costs $15,000 to $60,000 on average, depending on the material, height, and shoreline accessibility. A revetment wall costs $150 to $600 per linear foot using vinyl, steel, wood, or concrete materials.

Contractor building a steel seawall bulkhead for lake property
Contractor building a steel seawall bulkhead for lake property

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DIY retention wall cost

Building a DIY retaining wall costs $4 to $20 per square foot for materials alone. Retaining walls more than 3’ tall typically requires a structural engineer, permits, and installation by a licensed builder.

Low-cost or cheap retaining wall materials include:

  • Railroad ties cost $15 to $25 each.
  • Concrete cinder blocks cost $1 to $5 per block.
  • Interlocking blocks cost $2 to $10 per block.
  • Gravel costs $10 to $50 per ton for a wall footer and backfill.

Frequently asked questions

How long do retaining walls last?

A retaining wall lasts 50 to 100 years on average, depending on the material, installation quality, soil condition, and maintenance frequency.

Retaining wall lifespan
Wall material Lifespan (years)
Concrete 50 – 100
Stone 50 – 200
Metal 20 – 40
Wood 10 – 40

How high can a retaining wall be?

A retaining wall can be 3' to 6' high. A terrace of multiple retaining walls on a slope can be a total of 15' to 20' tall maximum. Structural engineers are typically necessary to design retaining walls taller than 3'.

Do retaining walls add value?

Retaining walls add value to a home if installed in a high-quality landscape design that boosts curb appeal.

When do you need to build a retaining wall?

Retaining walls are needed for erosion prevention, yard-drainage improvement, foundation protection, converting slopes into garden space, and barrier protection against flooding.

A slope needs a retaining wall when:

  • Yard soil is eroding off the property in landslides after it rains.
  • Stormwater pools up on the lawn.
  • Water pools around the home foundation instead of going to the garden.
  • Rainwater runoff from a neighbor’s hill flows onto the property.
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Hiring retaining wall builders

Masons or landscapers build retaining walls, depending on the construction methods. Use this checklist to find landscapers or masonry contractors near you.

  • Compare at least three bids from various contractors.
  • Look for installers certified by the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) or the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA).
  • Beware of the cheapest quotes that often signal low-quality work.
  • Check company reviews on HomeGuide and Google.
  • Pick licensed, insured, and bonded companies with years of experience.
  • Don’t pay in full upfront. Use a payment schedule.
  • Keep an itemized bid listing all costs.

Questions to ask

  • What are the best materials for this retaining wall, and why?
  • Can you match the wall color to my home exterior?
  • Will a structural engineer help design a retaining wall for my soil type, yard slope, and drainage system?
  • Can I see a scaled wall design before construction?
  • Are all materials and labor charges in this quote? What extra fees can apply?
  • Can I see a portfolio of other retaining walls you’ve built?
  • How long have you been making retaining walls in this area?
  • Will this wall need a concrete or compacted-gravel footing, and will you notify the utility company before digging?
  • Do I need additional drainage near the base of this wall?
  • Will you pull the permits and manage site inspections?
  • What kind of backfill and landscape fabric will you install behind the wall?
  • How should I contact the team supervisor?
  • What happens if the crew encounters unexpected project delays?
  • How much space will the contractors need?
  • Will contractors clean up after the wall is complete, and does that cost extra?
  • Do you hire subcontractors, and if so, are there extra fees to direct them?
  • What do I get in your warranty, and how long does it last?
  • How long will this construction take?
  • What’s your payment timeline?
  • Can you give me a contract copy before work starts?

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