AB Contractor News

Exclusively for Allan Block Contractors

February 2024

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In This Issue

What's New: New Installation Videos for Retaining and Seating Walls

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Pattern Walls

Check out our New AB Workshop Videos! To see a complete list of videos please check out our Reference Documents for Contractors

Reinforced Wall

Newest videos:

CHECK IT OUT - AB Retaining Wall Estimation Tool Update

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Today, we're excited to talk about the New AB Retaining Wall Estimating Tool —a web-based solution designed for efficient project estimation while aligning with the industry's zero wall failure initiative.

This tool not only saves time but also educates, estimates accurately, and empowers you to sell your project confidently. Let's explore how this tool can elevate your proposals and add value to your projects.


How It Works:

No downloads, no installations—just seamless accessibility on any device. The tool provides instant access to educational resources, with links and videos tailored to each screen. Customize settings based on your role—dealer, homeowner, contractor, or production partner.

Pricing Pages:

Enter block information, adjust pricing structures, and add equipment and service costs. The step-by-step process ensures accurate estimates while following industry best practices for retaining wall design.

Wall Profile Entry:

Simplify wall profile entry with a user-friendly table. Make adjustments easily and add multiple walls for comprehensive project estimates. Users will also see an elevation view of the wall they have entered into the tool.

Product Selection and Results:

Select your products and let the AB Estimating Tool do the rest. It generates a complete package with cover pages, wall-specific details, and proposals. Customizable addendums are available, taylor made to fit contractor needs.

Estimating Tool Output Cover Estimating Tool Output Elevations Estimating Tool Output Detail Estimating Tool Output Proposal Estimating Tool Output Worksheet

The AB Retaining Wall Estimating Tool is your key to accurate estimates, proper communication of project requirements, and project success. Streamline your estimating process and elevate your proposals with this invaluable tool. Be on the lookout for emails from Allan Block about further updates. If you wish to start learning this new tool, please reach out to the Engineering Dept. at Allan Block. (952) 835-5309 ext. 3 or engineering@allanblock.com

ABU Online
Allan Block Contractor Resources

Find Everything you need - all in one place!

We have compiled all the information and resources you need, in a portal specifically made for you. Here you can find online training webinars, AB Contracter Certification Classes, estimating tools, rewards program information and much more!!

Enter the AB Contractor Portal


Application Highlights: Fences Above a Retaining Wall

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At Allan Block we are frequently asked how to properly install various types of fencing along the top of our walls. This question has a variety of answers depending on the fence application. The best way to address installation of a fence is to consider the plan, design, and construction of the fence and wall structure together as one system before the project begins. Often the fence or railings are overlooked and not discussed until the wall is completed. For anybody that has been associated with projects like this, they know that installing a railing after the wall is constructed is more work and often more expensive. Here are a couple of options for fence applications.

Installing a fence during retaining wall construction:

The wall installer and fencing contractor should coordinate the locations of all fence post footings prior to completing the top of the wall. Knowing these locations allows the wall installer to place the construction tubes while completing the top courses. This coordination eliminates the need to hand dig fence footings after the wall is complete. When placing the fence post footings, the installer needs to account for geogrid obstructions where the fence posts will occur. Careful layout of the geogrid can allow for the post location to occur at a seam between geogrid rolls so that minimal cutting of the roll is necessary.

Installing a fence after the wall is built:

Installing a fence after the wall is built becomes a more challenging application than if the construction tubes are installed during retaining wall construction. As with all fence applications behind the wall, the installer must be aware of the geogrid location and avoid the use of a power auger where there is a potential to snag the geogrid and pull it out of the soil. The locations for the fence posts will need to be carefully dug by hand so that damage to the geogrid is minimized.

Fence Location Options

Option 1: Installed 3 feet (0.9 m) Behind the Block

Placing the fence or railing a minimum of 3 feet (0.9 m) or further behind the wall is the preferred location. This configuration applies minimal overturning forces to the back of the wall. The design can utilize the resistance from the soil mass between the wall and post footing to reduce the forces from the fence.

Commercial and Residential Builder
Commercial and Residential Builder

Option 2: Installed Behind the Block

Installing the fence or railing directly behind the block is a common application. Fences can be placed closer to the wall than 3 feet, but a design professional should be involved with the project to ensure that the top of the retaining wall can withstand the forces from the fence.

Option 3: Installing Behind Block Using Sleeve-It® by Strata

Sleeve-It® by Strata is an innovative, foundational anchoring solution for fences placed on top of mortarless retaining walls, which makes it a perfect accessory for Allan Block projects. Its distinctive, cantilevered qualities allow for solid internal reinforcement of fence posts, as well as eliminating the minimum 3ft (0.9 meter) distance from the edge of the final course of wall. This maximizes the usable space for multiple surcharge possibilities, which adds a whole new value for your customers. Pedestrian railings, safety fences, and guide rails can be integrated into the design with ease when using this exceptional fortified accessory.

Commercial and Residential Builder

Finally, if the penetration is relatively shallow it may be possible to angle the reinforcements below the obstruction.

For more information check out the Tech Sheet on Fences Above a Wall on our allanblock.com or give us a call at 800-899-5309 x3.

Featured Collection - AB Metro Patio Wall

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The AB Metro Patio Wall System is the epitome of outdoor living sophistication, offering a seamless blend of clean lines and modern appeal. Elevate your projects with an addition that not only exudes luxury but also creates a sleek and inviting atmosphere. Designed for those who seek to entertain, cook, or simply relax, this innovative system offers Apre-designed rooms and elements to provide design ideas and ease of installation.

AB Metro 1-2-3 Pattern: Easy to Build, Stack, Glue, Done.

One of the standout features of the AB Metro Patio Wall System is its user-friendly design, making installation a breeze. The AB Metro 1-2-3 Pattern, featuring three distinct block sizes - AB Metro 8, AB Metro 16, and AB Metro 24, is packaged as a set for convenient installation. This thoughtful packaging ensures that constructing outdoor spaces is not only efficient but also devoid of potential roadblocks.

Reinforced Slope

No cutting is necessary with the AB Metro Patio Wall System, streamlining the installation process even further. The simplicity of stacking and gluing the blocks together allows for a smooth and hassle-free construction experience. Use our AB Metro Patio Wall Reference guide and videos as installation guides.

The AB Metro Patio Wall System offers limitless design possibilities, allowing you to tailor outdoor spaces to meet any specific needs and preferences. The straight walls and 90-degree corners facilitate the construction of various configurations, making it easy to create contemporary looking layouts.

Whether your customers envision a cozy nook for intimate gatherings, a spacious area for outdoor cooking and dining, or a tranquil retreat for relaxation, the AB Metro Patio Wall System can be adapted to meet any requirements. The versatility in design ensures that any outdoor living space reflects personal style, making it a true extension of your customer’s home.

The AB Metro Patio Wall System is more than just a construction solution; it's a gateway to a luxurious and modern outdoor living experience. With its easy-to-install AB Metro 123 Pattern, versatility in design, and the perfect finishing touch provided by the AB Metro Capper, this system allows you to create a customized space that reflects individual style and enhances your customers home. Say goodbye to the ordinary and embrace the extraordinary with the AB Metro Patio Wall System, where clean and modern appeal meet effortless elegance.


Talk with your local manufacturer to check the availability of the AB Metro Patio Wall product.

Gravity Walls Using No-Fines Concrete

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One of the biggest challenges faced by the Segmental Retaining Wall (SRW) industry is maximizing usable space while minimizing cost. Many contractors feel that a gravity wall is the best solution to keep a project cost low. This comes with height limitations as discussed in the last Contractor Newsletter. A solution to make taller gravity walls is No Fines Concrete (NFC). This is simply a concrete product that doesn’t contain sand or fine materials. The idea of NFC is not a new concept, it dates back to the 1800s in Europe. It gained popularity in the wake of WWII across Europe because cement supplies were limited. NFC was first used in segmental retaining walls over twenty-five years ago. The now modern iteration of NFC edges competitor solutions in that it provides additional weight and strength to the wall facing blocks and maintains minimal excavation depth on site – these factors allow the height of the gravity wall to increase. For more construction information, refer to Building with No Fines Concrete.

NFC Construction

For contractors, the biggest situation where NFC can present significant cost savings is a site with walls specified as big block gravity walls. By using NFC, contractors can add a significant amount of weight and depth to the facing making their wall mimic the overall size and stability of a big block gravity wall at a greatly reduced cost. Furthermore, by using NFC with Allan Block retaining wall units, contractors can effectively eliminate the need for heavy equipment on site. This means retaining walls can be installed with smaller crews, smaller equipment, and further reduced costs.

Lastly, if you’re looking to combine NFC with grid and gravity walls to tackle different project and site condition needs, check out Complex Composite Structures, in which NFC can be used at either the top or bottom of the wall in these scenarios.

If you have further questions about design and construction, reach out to our engineering department at 952-835-5309 ext.3.

Contractor Program: Training for New and Existing Crew Members for Company Success

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The Allan Block Contractor Certification Program has been proven to increase installation efficiency, quality, and profits for its participants. It has been the cornerstone of every single successful Allan Block program around the world and our production partners continue to host classes every year. As we move into 2024, we encourage you and your team to attend one of these classes. Check out our website for our Training Schedule with times and locations, reach out to your local AB manufacturing representative or send us a class request and we can help guide you to the nearest class.

However, this is only step one of your trainings. A few years back, we added the Advanced Residential Contractor Certification Course. This is great for your staff that interacts with the customer. This class shows you how to enhance your sales ability by providing a professional sales approach and proposals, to help you stand out and get more “yes” from your customers. You can use that same class request link to let us know you are interested in the Advance Residential Contractor Course as well.

In today’s market, it is no longer enough to rely on word of mouth and positive reviews to stand out. To stay ahead of the competition, we need to be thinking about what we can provide that others are not, and how we can save time by doing it. These two training programs will help you be more successful and land more projects. Follow the links and let us know how we can help!


Hot Topic: Outdoor Living Spaces and Rooms

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Whether your customers are yearning for a cozy courtyard firepit, eyeing a pre-designed patio layout, or contemplating a front yard facelift for enhanced curb appeal, we've curated a collection of DIY inspirations to elevate their outdoor spaces. Dive into our AB Courtyard Weekend Projects, or our AB Metro Pre-Designed Rooms, where we unveil step-by-step guides and detailed videos to make their vision a reality.

Discover an abundance of small weekend projects designed for simplicity and enjoyment. Our comprehensive guides cover a spectrum of projects, from crafting firepits in round or square designs to creating spacious outdoor kitchens. Explore options for grill surrounds, outdoor bars, kitchen setups, and various seating choices. Our goal is to inspire creativity and assist every step of the way. Our detailed videos and instructions make the process a breeze.

AB Metro Patio Wall

Use our AB Pre-Designed Layouts.

  • Not only are these products lightweight and easy to move. They are easy to install. We have installation videos, and online resources to help in every step of your project.
  • We also make it easy for you, the contractor. Each of these packages already have the material estimate for the project, saving you the time and hassle of doing calculations.
  • Use our Reference Guides for AB Metro Patio Wall and AB Courtyard that will show you the easy installation techniques.

For further assistance and guidance, reach out to us at (800) 899-5309. We are committed to supporting you in creating outdoor spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional and enjoyable. Elevate your offerings with AB Pre-Designed Layouts and make outdoor transformations a delightful experience for all.

Metro Elements

Project Photos Needed

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Allan Block walls are being built all over the world in great applications to create the designs and structures needed for the project. We love to see what is being built so we can promote it for inspiration for other contractors and designers. Please email us with any AB projects you have done so we can add to our library or update our manuals. Its great free advertising to have a job you have built be promoted directly from Allan Block! These images are some from our international contractors in German and Ireland. Make sure to use on your website and social media and then share with us so we can promote to all our followers.

Allan Block wall in Ireland for river traffic

Allan Block Water application

Send us your project photos for a option to be featured in our materials. Share them with us via email, Dropbox or wetransfer.com to gerri@allanblock.com.

ABU Online

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See Our Live ABU Online Webinars

Support your education by participating in our online webinar series each day.

Contractor ABU (Allan Block University) Online is available all year long. Check out the topics and dates below and register today for the online events that best fit your schedule. Simply click the link below for each of the events that best fits into your day:


Offered on TUESDAYS at 8 AM, 11 AM, 1 PM and 4 PM CENTRAL TIME (30+ minute sessions)

Proper Submittals - Residential and Commercial Submittal with Custom Catalog
Sign up: 3/5/24

GRS/IBS and No-Fines Concrete Applications
Sign up: 3/12/24

AB Contractor Certification & Rewards Program / AB Advanced Residential Contractor Cert.
Sign up: 3/19/24

AB Courtyard Installation Overview / Patio Packages
Sign up: 3/26/2024

AB Product Line Review / Contractor Resource Portal
Sign up: 4/9/24

Commercial and Residential Installation Manual
Sign up: 4/2/24

Proper Estimate - App/Estimating Tool/3D Modeling
Sign up: 2/20/24, 4/16/24

AB Fence Installation
Sign up:2/27/24, 4/23/2024

Use this detailed calendar to see all ABU Online Webinars

All eligible for 0.1 CEU/1.0 PDH Credits

Allan Block Corporation
7424 W. 78th Street, Bloomington, MN 55439
Help & Support Center: (800) 899-5309
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