Crafted Workshop Features CornerStone 100 Retaining Wall
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects can be a rewarding – albeit challenging – process when it comes to home renovations and retaining wall projects. Everyone wants to strike the perfect balance of affordability and profitability by enhancing their property value and appearance. Most importantly, keeping safety top of mind and properly planning your DIY retaining wall project are pivotal to successful projects. That’s why CornerStone Wall Solutions is proud to partner with viral YouTube’s sensation Crafted Workshop for their (Not So) Tiny House Project on their raised patio retaining wall.
Collaborating on Raised Patio with Crafted Workshop
Crafted Workshop provides weekly how-to demonstration videos for various DIY projects, including woodworking, metalworking and home renovations. These step-by-step videos show the complete journey of DIY projects, from the planning and design phase through to completion. Each video includes tips, tricks (and obstacles) encountered along the way, too.
Beginning in 2020, Crafted Workshop’s owner, Johnny Brooke, decided to begin construction on a guesthouse project in his backyard near Asheville, NC. He aptly named this the (Not So) Tiny House project. As part of the design, a raised patio retaining wall and firepit would be installed along the sloping backyard in front of the guesthouse. Crafted Workshop selected CornerStone 100 retaining wall blocks because of the system’s easy installation and versatile reputation. The retaining wall’s purpose for this project is to support the paver patio and provide secure, long-lasting earth retention. Check out the full video here:
Starting Retaining Walls with Graded Base Elevations
The Crafted Workshop team chose a gravity retaining wall because this project’s minimal load and low elevation height, the paver patio, did not require further geogrid reinforcement. Gravity retaining walls are commonly the easiest type of retaining wall to build, although each design has its own challenges.
Johnny was well prepared prior to beginning this project, making use of CornerStone Wall Solution’s user-friendly resources. This process included consulting with his architect, Rick Kazebee, who has helped Crafted Workshop throughout the (Not So) Tiny House Project. Together, they mapped out the specifics of the raised patio retaining wall design with CornerStone’s comprehensive Retaining Wall Design & Analysis Software. The CornerStone Wall Estimator tool helped determine material quantities and the number of CornerStone 100 units needed for the project. This software can save you massive time and money throughout the design phase and assist in pinpointing accurate material amounts.
Crafted Workshop then ordered the CornerStone 100 retaining wall blocks from the local CornerStone manufacturer, Adams Oldcastle in Asheville, NC. Adams Oldcastle conveniently distributes CornerStone 100 across North Carolina and South Carolina. Find your nearest CornerStone dealer to learn more or to ask their retaining wall experts any questions you may encounter.
DIY CornerStone 100 Raised Patio Experience
Getting started on a small retaining wall like this in your sloped backyard can be a daunting task. After all, the quality of the base leveling pad is often reflected and effects the rest of the retaining wall. Crafted Workshop took advantage of CornerStone’s free step-by-step CornerStone 100 How-To Documents and Installation Guide, which are exceptional learning tools.
Footage of Retaining Wall Construction
Crafted Workshop’s full video showcases how the CornerStone 100 retaining wall was built, from start to finish. Johnny and his crew were first-time users of the retaining wall system and learned a ton from CornerStone’s online resources. To see how Crafted Workshop approached different phases of the paver patio’s retaining wall, view the video links below:
- Planning & Excavation – (1:05m)
- Base Compacting, Materials & Leveling Pad – (3:00m)
- Laying the First Course on Base Leveling Pad – (6:35m)
- Additional Retaining Wall Courses & Corners – (9:37m)
- Installing Drainpipes & Drainage Outlets – (10:25m)
- Backfilling Behind the Retaining Wall – (12:56m)
- Base Elevation Changes & Step-Ups – (14:40m)
- Fill Material and Retaining Wall Caps – (17:00m)
- Installing Hardscape Lighting Under Caps (18:15m)
*CornerStone 100 corner block shapes may vary by region.
Helpful Retaining Wall Tips & Tricks
During the CornerStone 100 installation, Crafted Workshop found several creative and inexpensive techniques which saved time and kept costs minimal. Below are a few recommendations to make the installation process smooth for your DIY retaining wall and where they can be found in the video.
Rotary Laser. The Rotary laser was one tool the team absolutely loved for this project. Its 360° laser line maintained an even level to assist in measuring heights and depths – essential for keeping the base pad level. (1:15m)
Screeding. The team was able to save costs on a commercial screed board by using a leftover piece of 2×4 lumber. Using it and ¾” EMT conduit as screed rails made for effective makeshift screeding tools. (5:30m)
Corner Adhesive. Outside corners of retaining walls are notoriously the weakest part of a retaining wall due to the loads and pressures above. Reinforce the corners with heavy-duty adhesive for peace of mind. (10:00)
Cut-Off Saws. Each design is different; therefore, the measurements will be too. From time to time, cutting the retaining wall blocks will be necessary. If possible, select a cut-off saw which you can hook a garden hose This will significantly reduce dust flying up when cutting blocks. (10:35m) (15:53m) (18:40m)
Mason Chisel. Avoid injuries to your hands and fingers by selecting a chisel with a hand guard. Even the best installers miss a hammer swing sometimes. This will come in handy when making drainage holes in the blocks. (10:55m)
Caulking Gun. While the Crafted Workshop team were skeptical of this tool, it was super useful when the project rolled around to securing the cap units to the top course of blocks. (18:00m)
String lines. Placing a string line along the back face of the retaining wall blocks as a measurement guideline is an age-old trick since CornerStone’s precast retaining wall blocks will consistently be the same size. Be sure to place string lines behind the blocks, as the front facing can vary due to its rugged, natural stone textures. (6:50m)
Leveling. The base course will set your retaining wall up for success if built properly and potential disaster if built haphazardly. Always double-check the leveling of your base course, it’s arguably the most important aspect of your retaining wall. (9:00m)
3D Modeling Software
SketchUp. Gaining a visual of what you’re planning to build always helps decision making and implementing final tweaks to make the project perfect. SketchUp is an excellent resource. (2:55m)
Hardscape Lighting. Adding LED lights beneath the caps of your retaining wall increases safety so people don’t trip over the retaining wall. These neat lights look excellent in the evening and tuck away nicely out of sight under the cap units.
Thanks to Crafted Workshop!
CornerStone Wall Solutions is proud to be part of Crafted Workshop’s (Not So) Tiny House Project and their raised patio retaining wall. Their exceptional combination of skill and resourcefulness make for great How-To’s that demonstrate each project’s practical challenges – and solutions.
Crafted Workshop’s safety-first approach is an exemplary model to follow and precisely why CornerStone Wall Solutions happily partnered with Johnny and his hard-working team. Special thanks to the Crafted Workshop crew for explaining each step of construction in simple, engaging ways. Also a huge thanks to local CornerStone 100 manufacturers, Adams Oldcastle, for producing high-quality CornerStone products.
CornerStone will be collaborating with Johnny again soon to build stairs (with CornerStone 100 retaining wall blocks) on each side of the guesthouse’s beautiful paver patio. Stay tuned and subscribe to Crafted Workshop on YouTube to follow the (Not So) Tiny House Project and learn more!
Follow Crafted Workshop’s social media pages for updates on the (Not So) Tiny House’s progress and more DIY projects: