Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between your walls and decorative concrete wall systems that mimic real stone?
NSWS® walls are built with 100% bulk natural stone from farm fields or quarries. Although many of the modular and concrete block system providers offer “natural stone finishes” usually stamping, texturing or painting the concrete to mimic real stone; these artificial treatments typically fade over the years/seasons exposing the artificial nature of those products. NSWS® natural stone walls look even better as time passes.
I have a really difficult site with limited access; do you have any restrictions on where you can work?
We have successfully installed walls in some tough sites such as narrow driveways or steep hills. We inspect the site prior to starting any work to make sure we can install safely using our specialized installation equipment.
Can you use any style of stone?
Yes, our process allows us to build with any style/type of stone. Mortar joint finishes can be specified and customized based on your preferences or designs. For larger projects, before the entire wall is built, full size mockups or samples of wall sections can be built and inspected by project owner or architect if there is any concern with stone style or look.
Can you use stone salvaged from my site?
Yes we can. However, we must first examine the condition of the stone and talk over the logistical details of extraction and transport.
How high can these walls be built?
We have structural engineer approved drawings for walls up to 8 ft high and can build walls of any height up to 8 ft. Anything above 4 ft requires a fence and usually additional permits, depending on the town. Generally, when faced with a project requiring more than 8 ft of retaining, we can terrace the walls which not only softens the look of a landscape but can lower overall project costs by eliminating costs of installing fencing and eliminate costs associated with obtaining additional permits. If a wall taller than 8 ft is required, we can work with you to obtain the required engineering and permits.
What kind of tops can these walls have?
Our standard walls come with a natural stone top with mortared joints. If a cap is desired, we typically see demand for granite, bluestone or limestone tops which are easily installed at an additional cost of the desired material.
What kind of footing do you use?
NSWS® walls are installed on proper footings for each project and are always compliant with industry standards and best practices. If it is a simple retaining wall (less than 4 ft) a 2 ft x 2 ft crushed gravel footing is sufficient and is used. For walls higher than 4 ft or if cap stones, architectural pieces, or decks/ porches are to be installed on top of our walls, we recommend and provide aconcrete footing.
How deep are the walls buried?
Generally, walls are buried 10 – 15% of the wall height into the ground, so a 4 ft wall is usually buried 6 inches, and so on.
How do you ensure that walls do not shift or move?
Our patent pending technology includes structural features that prevent any shifts or movements:
- All NSWS® walls are designed to provide adequate structural capacity with acceptable movements from differential settling. Our engineered zig-zag interlocking joint systems control vertical and lateral deformation. Simply put, they do not allow the walls to individually “lift” or “heave” without lifting the entire wall.
- Geogrid reinforcement is installed in all of our walls, providing additional retaining capabilities to our walls. The amount of geofabric installed changes depending on wall heights and engineering requirements.
- NSWS® wall engineering ensures that we mitigate one of the biggest issues that typically causes walls to fail – poor drainage. All walls come with pre-installed drainage pipes/ weep holes spaced 10-15 ft apart (adjusted depending on site conditions), and each pipe ties into a perimeter drain that runs the length of every wall. Drainage is crucial to the structural integrity of walls and this feature is standard in all NSWS® walls.
- We are so confident that our walls will last that we offer a lifetime guarantee.