Retaining Wall Caps: 5 Types And How To Attach

Retaining wall in backyard with shrubs above and retaining wall caps on top

Maybe you’ve completed your retaining wall project and you’re just not sure what you need to finish it off.  Or maybe your existing retaining wall cap is sturdy but looking a little worn. It may need some freshening up or replacement.  At the very top of your retaining wall there usually is a cap to finish it off.  So what are retaining wall caps and how do you install them?

5 Manufacturers Of Retaining Wall Caps

Like many aspects of backyard construction, the answer to this question depends on what caps you have selected.  If you have built a precast concrete retaining wall, you often will be using precast concrete wall caps which are purpose built. 

Here are some popular retaining wall cap and block manufacturers:

1. Techo-Bloc: You’ll notice Techo-Bloc has a huge selection of wall cap options, some of which will match your wall block selection, and others which will contrast.  Depending on your design you can use these wall caps with any retaining wall.  In the precast paver and retaining wall block world, Techo-Bloc is considered one of the leading manufacturers of higher end products.

2. Unilock: Like Techo-Bloc Unilock is known as a higher end manufacturer and this shows in their diverse product line.

3. Belgard / Old Castle: Depending on your area, there will be different products available for all manufacturers, and Belgard is no different.

4. Ideal Block: Ideal is a smaller manufacturer and there’s not a lot of variation in their product line.  However, they are often the least expensive option if you can find their products in your area.

5. Pavestone: Another low cost manufacturer, often sold at Home Depot and Lowes.  Pavestone has a limited product line, but keeps the prices low.

How To Attach Retaining Wall Caps

All these manufacturers have their own specific methods for attaching the retaining wall caps. However, it’s common to use landscape adhesive to attach the caps to the wall below. Alternatively, you can use a pre-mixed mortar. Although, you should always refer back to the manufacturer’s guidance and follow their instructions.

gray retaining wall caps on top of dark stone retaining wall in backyard formatted as a bench around a patio and fire pit

Retaining Wall Cap Alternatives

There are other options for retaining wall caps beyond the precast concrete.  Depending on where you live, you may have access to materials which cost less than you’d expect. Travertine is a commonly chosen material all over the country due to its low cost and workability.

Limestone is often used in Texas, and in New England we often use bluestone or granite. Call up your local stone yards and masonry supply houses and find out what’s available in your area and what the prices are per square foot so you can estimate your project.

Retaining Wall Cap Advice From A Landscape Designer

Whatever type of retaining wall caps you use, it’s a good idea to get samples and take a long hard look at the way the colors match or contrast. Furthermore, see how they will work with your finished landscape.  If you will have grass up to the edge of the retaining wall, grab / dig up a piece of sod and place it next to the wall block and cap you’re considering. 

If you’re using a crushed stone, get a bucket full of the stone and do the same.  Never be afraid to request material samples from the manufacturers directly.  Let them work out how to get the retaining wall cap sample to you using their product representatives.  Taking the time to make sure your material selections are correct will ensure years of enjoyment.