Allan Block

Contractor News

March 30, 2017

Welcome Spring!

We at Allan Block are always striving to be Always Better and bringing you, our contracting customers, valuable information that can be incorporated into your business is vital to our success. Our first newsletter of 2017 will strive to bring insight that will (1) help you find ways to bring value to your business by providing programs/tools to help you drive revenue and (2) provide market information to better educate on industry standards, initiatives and/or best practices to assist with installation efficiencies. If you would like to register for this newsletter, have questions, comments or topics you would like to see addressed, please submit HERE. We look forward to hearing from you!

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what's new

Courtyard Patio Packages

patio packages

What is an AB Courtyard Patio Package? It is the newest, easiest and fastest way to sell, design and install a backyard living area for your customer(s). Allan Block has created 12 unique pre-designed patio packages for use when selling backyard patio projects. How are we helping you sell quicker, estimate easier, and design more efficiently?

  1. Estimating: We will provide the quantity of material for each package which will include AB Courtyard components, paver quantity, paver base, bedding sand, joint sand, edging, sealers, etc. All of this will be priced as a lump sum for you and all you will need to do is add labor.

  2. Design and Construction: We will provide drawings of each patio with full layout of the construction process so you can reduce or eliminate the need to draw/design the project.

    This will improve efficiencies in the field with your foreman/superintendent...allowing you to move on to the next sales opportunity with less headaches.

  3. Sales: We will provide 12  Pre-designed options and you can tailor a package to the respective homeowner based on your conversations. Do they want straight lines with 90 degree corners or do they want posts or a radius? Do they want a bar or a grill? You can pull different options in to show the owner many styles in an extremely efficient manner.

patio packages

Check out the AB Courtyard Patio Packages on our website and/or call your local Allan Block Rep today to learn more about our new apps and how we have incorporated the Patio Packages into them!

contractor program

Best Practices for Segmental Retaining Walls

We are nearly 20 years into our Contractor Certification Program at Allan Block and it continues to grow each year. With the support of the industry and the recent launch of “Best Practices for Segmental Retaining Wall Design” the need for certified installers will continue to grow. NCMA and Allan Block have both launched Best Practice documents and each can be viewed independently at:

Best Practices
Allan Block
Best Practices for
SRW Design


Best Practices NCMA
Segmental Retaining Walls
Best Practices Guide

You will notice these documents clearly outline industry standards for the design and construction of SRW systems. Most importantly the documents recommend that the specifier require certified contractors to install SRW systems. The industry is pushing this initiative in an attempt to continue improving the quality of installation.

The recommendation is beginning to surface in specs and it will continue to take shape as we move forward – keep watching for our AB Contractor Certification class dates this year and into 2018 so you can ensure your right to participate on all SRW projects in the future.

AB Aztec

Featured Collection: AB Aztec

AB Aztec has been the most anticipated product launch since AB Courtyard  and it is on pace to rival our AB Courtyard product for growth in year one. What is driving this demand?

  1. Added Aesthetic
  2. Simple/Similar Install

AB Aztec is bringing a non-split, smooth molded face to our partners with the exact same benefits of the AB Collection (AB Classic, AB Lite Stone, etc.) which all our partners have enjoyed for nearly 30 years. You will enjoy the same speed and efficiencies experienced with the AB Collection with the new AB Aztec, but will be able to provide an unparalleled aesthetic. This product is revolutionizing our product offering and bringing a cleaner and more contemporary feel to the SRW industry.

In addition, to help launch this collection we will be running an incentive through 2018. For trained & certified Allan Block Contractors, every AB Aztec purchase will qualify you for the AB Stamp Program. The more units you buy the more AB Stamps you earn which can be used towards Apple products. Check out our site to learn more about AB Aztec that will help you become more successful.

hot Topic


Rooftops continue to be a great opportunity for outdoor living spaces and we continue to see areas of growth for AB products on them. The evolution of roof top applications has gone from “green roofs” with mostly plants and access areas for mechanicals, to paver areas with plants and today we are seeing entire outdoor areas built with walls, pavers, plants and accessories.

rooftop fire pit  rooftop kitchen

Allan Block has a variety of products to meet the need of your customer(s) – whether it is with AB Courtyard  to build a sitting area, fire pit and grill surround or with AB retaining wall products to create planters, water features or to separate rooms on the roof.

rooftop planter



An Allan Block Master Wall Builder is an individual who has reached the third and final step in the  AB Contractor Certification Program (level 1 = Certified Installer and level 2 = Experienced Wall Installer). Contractors that reach this level have both the knowledge and the skills to build top quality Allan Block walls. To learn more about the details associated with each certification level, please visit our AB Contractor Certification Program Details.

Josiah Macleod
Sunny Slopes Landscape and Custom Design

Josiah Macleod began Sunny Slopes Landscape and Custom Design in 1996 in Kelowna, British Columbia and is still doing business there today. He has built the business from the beginning on integrity and quality work – “my work has to be right and it has to stay that way for the owner.” His passion to make each project right for each owner he works with has created a great deal of repeat and referral business that drives his operation today.

sunny slope

Josiah started in the landscape business in the early 1990’s and really began to hone his skills prior to beginning his business in ’96. He became an Allan Block Master Wall Builder in 2006 shortly after beginning his working relationship with Expocrete’s Cecil Fitzpatrick.

Today he uses the certification program and his credentials when he is meeting with a new customer – “when I show my credentials it helps my customer understand the quality and depth of my business.” He has been using Allan Block products for longer than he can remember and “appreciates how they work.” In addition, he feels Allan Block retaining wall products create a “very structural wall that will last.”

Sunny Slopes Landscape and Custom Design spends approximately 40% of their time completing residential work for builders and homeowners and 60% of their time on commercial projects.

Josiah is getting ready to start a 27 ft. (9 m ) tall AB project which will be the tallest single structure he has built – though a 44 ft. (13.5 m) tall terraced structure is the tallest on his resume.

Josiah – thanks for making Allan Block part of your business over the past 20+ years. We look forward too many more great projects and our continued partnership as we move forward and would like you to know that we greatly appreciate your business!

Contractor Talk: Fences Above a Retaining Wall

Fences and railings are a common sight around retaining walls. 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. Usually what happens is that the fence or railing is 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 more expensive.

All fences can withstand some type of load. A typical fence has the capacity to withstand loads from wind, pedestrians, or even vehicles in the case of commercial projects. By installing a fence or railing above the wall you are adding a requirement for the wall to withstand the additional overturning force in the top courses when somebody or something is pushing on the railing. If the wall has not been properly designed and built, this creates a potential that the load from the fence footing could move, bulge, or even worse, topple the top portion of the wall. The key is to consider the fence during the design phase of the wall project to ensure the retaining wall has an adequate amount of resistance to the additional force that the fence will apply. Below are three options for the location of the fence.

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.

Installed 3 feet (0.9 m) Behind the Block

Installed Behind the Block

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. As a fence gets closer to the wall, the excess strength from the geogrid reinforcement is required to withstand the overturning forces applied by the fence or railing post footing. A great option for this application is Sleeve-It.

Option 3: Installed Within the Block

Installing a fence or railing within the block itself is by far the most challenging application and an engineer should analyze the wall. For this type of installation, the cores around each post, or even the entire top few courses of block, must be grouted solid to add enough stability to the top of the wall. Using geogrid within the top three courses of block is required to aid in the resistance of the overturning forced created by the posts. This application should not be used for fences where large wooden posts are used.

Installed Within the Block

Installing a construction tube for the 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 construction tube for the fence during retaining wall construction

It may be permissible to make a small cut in the reinforcement to accommodate the obstruction. Talk to your geogrid supplier to confirm the process for cutting the reinforcement. Care should be taken to minimize the cutting of the geogrid strands that run in the strength direction and the geogrid should be wrapped tightly around the obstruction. Stake the grid tightly before placing any backfill.

Finally, if the penetration is relatively shallow it may be possible to angle the reinforcements below the obstruction. The angle  in the reinforcement should be less than a 5 to 1 slope or roughly 11 degrees.

Installing a fence after the wall is built:

Installing a fence after the wall is built becomes a more challenging application than if the sonotubes 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. Also, it becomes extremely challenging for a fence installer to build the fence directly into the block. Allan Block does not recommend installing a fence post directly within the block cores after the retaining wall is built.

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