I’ll admit this week’s project wasn’t a very fun one. The retaining wall next to our front steps leading up to the house was crumbling and leaning over. So before it got too bad and ruined the concrete steps, we needed to replace it. We noticed the cinder blocks crumbling a month or two ago and then it got worse and worse as time went on. When there was a pile of crumbled cinder block on the ground beside it, we figured we should just suck it up and do the work. The good thing about this was that it only took one weekend. I was out of town on Saturday so shout out to my husband who did all the heavy lifting on this one!
You can kind of see how the old blocks were crumbling before here:
All of the existing cinder blocks were taken out one row at a time by using brute force and ignorance with a little help from a spade shovel to pop them loose of the adhesive that was holding them together. The original thought was to remove the blocks in sections and replace them so there would always be some support against the steps. That seemed a little hard so we basically just hoped that the dirt would hold for a day. And thank goodness it did.
We thought we were going to have to get the typical, flat concrete cylinder blocks and have to put some type of stacked stone finish or something on the one side to make it look better. But Menards had these blocks with a rough edge for about $2 each so we went with those and will probably leave it how it is.
Once about 3 cylinder blocks were stacked on top of each other, we pounded a 6ft piece of rebar through the center and filled in the center holes with core fill masonry concrete that we mixed in a bucket. Hopefully this will hold it up in the future so it doesn’t crumble again. The steps were starting to sink against the old failing wall, so we also drilled some holes into the side of the steps and epoxied in some rebar. This rebar was tied in to the rebar in the masonry blocks, hopefully keeping the wall from falling away again in the future.
Each bucket of concrete that we mixed only filled in about 1.5 blocks so it took A LOT and we went through at least 16 bags. We mixed it in a Menards bucket and then poured it into the blocks.
You just have to add water and then mix it using a drill and attachment.
Once the concrete was poured inside each block with the rebar, we smoothed out the top. Once it was dry, we used a chisel to make sure it was all even and smooth so the cap pieces would sit flat.
Instead of putting the concrete cap pieces that go along with the blocks, we wanted to see what it would look like with a wood cap. We got green treated pine so that it would last outside and not rot. We cut the top pieces to size and stained them with Minwax Dark Walnut.
I like how it looks so I think I’ll keep it like this. And the wood was cheaper than the concrete cap pieces we would have used.
It didn’t really change the look of anything since we just replaced the wall that was already there but hopefully it will save us from having to re-do the steps in the near future!
Now we need to decide whether we want to replace the rock in that area or since we want to eventually replace all the rock with mulch, if we should just do that now. That will be a lot of work so I’m probably leaning towards the former. And that’s what we were up to this weekend. Thanks again for checking it out!