Retaining walls can be distinguished according to the positioning or the static principle with which they resist:
- Underground walls
, which support an artifact;
- Retaining walls
, which support lands above the building.
The walls can also be embedded or double-reinforced.
The materials with which the retaining walls can be built are: brick masonry, non-reinforced concrete masonry, reinforced concrete, gabions.
- Gravity walls
, or wall elements of adequate size which base their stability on the particular strength of the structure and on the weight;
- Buttress walls
, in which the buttresses work in a vertical plane, taking the thrust of the earth upon themselves, and the wall panel works by inflection in horizontal planes, with the main function of containing the soil;
- Cantilever walls
, that is slender wall elements, with particularly large foundations (so as to make the joint at the foot) in which the wall performs both functions, support and containment.
By their nature, it is possible that gravity walls are made of non-reinforced concrete and can sometimes incorporate large stone elements, in order to achieve a certain economic saving. The other two types of wall must instead provide, at least for the masonry panel, subject to bending stresses, a sufficient amount of reinforcement.
See also the category "Walls in contact with the ground