Technical News

Exclusively for Allan Block Design Professionals

September 2021

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ABU Online

Our Design Professional ABU Online events were created to help you with your retaining wall needs. Our local production and sales partners will be happy to schedule in person training on any topics you see below (call us if you are looking for those individuals) but feel free to use these to help with immediate needs.

training opportunities

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All eligible for 0.1 CEU/1.0 PDH
60 minute sessions

Held at:
8AM, 11AM, 1PM or 4PM CDT
on the date listed

Best Practices for SRW Design
Tuesday 10/12, 10/19, 12/7, 12/14

AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Thursday 9/22, 10/14, 10/21, 12/9, 12/16

SRW Inspectors Presentation
Tuesday 11/2, 12/28

Segmental Retaining Wall Design
Thursday 10/28

SRW Architectural Presentation
Thursday 11/4, 12/30

AB Fence and Installation
Tuesday 10/26, 12/21

Water Management and AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Thursday 10/7, 12/2

Complex Composite Structures (CCS) and AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Tuesday 11/9

No-Fines Concrete and AB Walls
Thursday 9/16, 11/11

Terraces and Global Stability in AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Tuesday 9/21, 11/16

Above Wall Considerations in AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Thursday 9/23, 11/18

Seismic Consideration in AB Walls
Tuesday 9/28, 10/26, 11/23

Submittals and AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Thursday 9/30

3D Modeling and AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Tuesday 10/5, 11/30

Go To Webinar


Once registered for an ABU Online event, you will receive an email notification with a calendar invite attached. Simply open that calendar invite and save it to your calendar for easy access in the future. In addition, you should receive 2-3 email reminders about the event.

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Inspiring Project Ideas

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AB Fence

In this Issue:

Adding Value to Luxury Living with AB Fence

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"Luxury Living" is the best way to describe 24 At Bloomfield, a newly built apartment complex in Bloomfield Township, Michigan. 24 At Bloomfield, along with many other luxury apartment communities, has "The Works" when it comes to amenities; an outdoor pool, fully enclosed dog park, several common areas, and modernized living units. Now, thanks to an AB Fence project that was completed last year, one of the most valuable amenities they are able to offer is the comfort of privacy with the added benefit of a beautiful aesthetic.

Often times, new construction of housing developments or apartment complexes are sandwiched between existing residential areas. Because of their close proximity to other living spaces, it is very common for owners of these new buildings to place added value on the ability to offer their community their own "private" space. One of the most common ways to create this private space is with the addition of privacy fences, used to separate the property of the complex from the surrounding residential areas. The trick to adding these privacy fences is that residents have an expectation that whatever separation is installed, it needs to look great. This is where AB Fence comes in.

When 24 At Bloomfield was planning their luxury apartments, they needed an attractive, reliable, and effective solution to meet their privacy needs. The product that they ended up selecting was the AB Fence product. The AB Fence system has been a proven system for years, requires little to no maintenance, and the look of the striated/split face surface of the blocks is second to none in terms of aesthetics. The developers for 24 At Bloomfield needed this 6 ft. (1.8 m) fence to be built perfectly, so they contacted Darren Yanke from Yanke Construction Inc.

Fortunately, Darren understood the importance of having his AB Fence project designed by a quality engineer, so he reached out to his local Allan Block representative from Consumers Concrete, Randy Vreeman. Randy Vreeman. Randy recommended that the fence be designed by GeoWall Designs.

Case Sudy Bloomfield Finished Fence

Case Study Bloomfield Fence Side

The engineers at GeoWall Designs got to work designing the 1,200 linear ft. (366 m) fence to run along the eastern side of the property. Based on the soils and wind loading present on site, the fence was designed with a 3-course bond beam at the bottom of the fence, and a 2-course bond beam on the top courses. With proper adherence to AB Fence design recommendations, all step-ups and step-downs, post spacings, and bond beam placements were expertly implemented into the construction drawings. Darren and the installers at Yanke Construction Inc. could then use the drawings to ensure that they were getting the fence installed perfectly.

When privacy is in high demand, and luxury living requires top-notch aesthetics, AB Fence will always be the go-to solution for your privacy fence needs.

See the Full Project Case Study

Case Study  Bloomflied Fence Back

AB Fence Tech Sheets - Useful Info at Your Fingertips!

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Ever wondered how the AB Fence system works? Do you have a sound fence project coming up and need testing info? Allan Block has multiple technical sheets available covering topics ranging from installation to testing results.

One specific tech sheet available to you is the AB Fence Testing Results, which outlines wind load testing conducted on an Allan Block fence panel. This testing concluded that the AB Panel Bond Beam, when constructed with sand mix grout, has the incredible ability to resist wind forces while remaining plastic enough to rebound 100% from +150 mph (241 kph) wind or 1.575 in (40 mm) deflections. The ability to reseat itself helps to release pressure that would otherwise build up inside of rigid panel systems.

AB Fence Tech Sheet

Here is a list of some tech sheets available to you:

For more information on our AB Fence system and available tech sheets, check out or feel free to reach out to our engineering department at 800-899-5309 ext. 3 or email

Breaking Down an AB Fence Build

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Retaining walls and paver projects are the foundations of the mortarless concrete industry, but they are not the whole story. Dry stack fencing projects have been popping up more and more frequently in the past few years. The ability to construct a beautiful sound barrier or privacy fence brings value to your company and to the customers. Download the full AB Fence Installation Manual here.

There are five major components to an AB Fence Installation:

  • Excavation
  • Fence Construction
  • Jigs and Tools
  • Patterned fencing
  • Pile / Pier Footing Construction
Fence Jig

Jigs and Tools- Allan Block has come up with a few jigs that are easy to build that will help speed up construction while minimizing errors on your project. The Funnel Jig assists in placing the grout within the panel blocks during the construction of the bond beams. This jig will help prevent the grout from reaching the face of the panels leaving a cleaner finished product. Other jigs include the Pile Layout Jig, which is the most important jig, since it is used to ensure accuracy of the vertical steel in the posts, the Post Spacing Jig used to help keep the AB Fence Post Blocks aligned as the posts are positioned and the Stirrup Jig to assist with the production of stirrups used in the bond beams.

Excavation - For panel foundations a 6 in. (150 mm) deep by 12 in. (300 mm) wide trench is typically excavated and filled with well-graded compactable aggregate. The panel trench's centerline should match the centerline of the AB Fence Placement. Filling and compacting the well-graded aggregate in the Panel trench should occur after the Pile/Pier footing as had time to harden.

After the panel trench is excavated, ensure the Pile/Pier footing locations are correct and bore out the pile/pier holes to the required depth based on approved construction plans. Prior to pouring your pile, ensure there is no loose material at the bottom of the hole and compact with a tamper when necessary. Positioning the holes is a critical step with a maximum allowable horizontal tolerance of + 1 in. (25 cm).

Pile/Pier Footing Construction - A concrete form with the same inside diameter as the design pile and minimum depth 12 in. (300 mm) should be used during the construction of the pile/pier footing. The centerline of the concrete form should match that of the AB Fence. The Pile Layout Jig can be used immediately after the concrete is poured to assist in the proper spacing of each AB Fence post. Place the required sized rebar following an approved construction plan within + 0.5 in. (13 mm) of the design horizontal locations.

Fence Construction - Begin stacking post blocks using the Post Spacing Jig to keep the posts square and aligned while also checking level in all directions. After the first few post blocks are installed, place a course of AB Fence Panel Blocks from post to post extending a minimum of 1 in. (25 mm) into each post block. Use a string line to ensure accurate level.

Fence Installation

A single bond beam consists of two courses of AB Fence Panel Block that have their cores filled with sand mix grout using stirrups for increased strength. A continuous piece of rebar should be placed between the recess of the two courses. Bond beams are typically used at the top and bottom of the fence panel to create a unified fence panel structure. Intermediate bond beams may be required as the AB Fence height increases. Prior to building a bond beam section, place a 4 in. (100 mm) strip of material such as duct tape or building paper, to prevent the grout mix from falling into the lower courses.

Stack additional panel courses and post blocks until the finished height or the next bond beam is reached. For esthetics and ease of construction, use a castellated design with the AB Fence Post Blocks extending one additional block above the final panel course. Finish by attaching the AB Fence Caps above the panel course and posts using a flexible construction adhesive.

Pattern Fence - Patterned fence panels resemble hand-laid stone walls and add even more character to your AB Fence Project. To assist in fence estimating and to ease the construction process, there are pre-set fence patterns available. Flip some split-faced sides to maintain a beautiful pattern on both sides. For additional tools for estimating your project, download the FREE AB Estimating Tool.

Engineering Talk: How to Design an AB Fence

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The first step in any design is to determine the purpose of the project. There are many reasons to build an AB Fence. Some such reasons are:

  • Security Fences
  • Sound Barriers
  • Screening/Containment
  • Adding Aesthetics/Beautification
  • Or a combination of the above
Fence Installation   Fence Installation


The height of the fence can be determined by local ordinance limitations, sound abatement calculations or by the client's desires. Once the desired height is finalized, the loading on the wall can be calculated. The controlling design load for most AB Fence projects is wind. The wind loading (pressure) can be calculated by using the wind speed (reference local code requirements), site conditions and exposure effect. Be aware that design codes might dictate a minimum wind pressure; ASCE 7-10 29.8 and IBC 2012 1609.6.3 has a minimum pressure of 16 psf.

After the wind pressure is determined, the maximum post spacing can be found through calculating the compressive strength, tensile strength, design strength and concrete shear of the posts and panels along with the foundation footing design. For an example calculation, check out our AB Fence Engineering Manual.

Reach out to for more information, scenarios or a preliminary design.

AB Fence Engineering Manual

AB Walls with AB CADD is Available! It now has even more options

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AB Walls with AB CADD was released earlier this year. Allan Block's Computer Aided Design and Drafting (AB CADD) will allow you, the design professional, to utilize the wall information from your site plans and create professional construction drawings for your retaining wall designs - in a fraction of the time. See an example output of AB Walls with AB CADD.

  1. A proper design is only as good as it is built. Proper communication to the contractor is critical for success. AB CADD will provide the following:
    • A 3D visual of your retaining wall
    • Incorporation of a site plan to communicate wall locations
    • Full material estimates for each wall
    • General specifications and project special consideration notes that highlight specific requirements
    • Plan, Elevation, Panel and Panel Section views that are easy to read and communicate wall conditions
    • Typical details that outline concepts for construction
    • Complete cross referencing of all specifications, notes, and details to appropriate portions of the project
  2. This program can assist in obtaining permits, approvals, detailed calculations, shop drawings, and 3D drawings. It has the ability to handle various site-specific loading conditions, including alternative reinforcement like no-fines concrete. Keep in mind, this is the first ever SRW software to address terraced wall designs(AB Walls Flyer).
  3. We know your time is extremely valuable, and this program allows you to be more productive. Along with support from Allan Block Corporate, it also helps ensure they stay on the right path. The inclusion ofAB CADD will streamline the design steps and provide the flexibility you are looking for as you quickly prepare the submittals and final designs. Again, saving time and money.

New - Now we have a 24 x 36 printout options to compliment the original 11 x 17 construction drawings.

A 24 x 36 set of construction drawings will allow you to provide the full story that a contractor or inspector would need to meet your precise design requirements on site. This tool will elevate the design standards we have in the industry and provide the most direct path to satisfy the requirements established by the industry and the Allan Block Best Practice approach to SRW design.

How do you get AB CADD?

For those of you that already have AB Walls, this will be a simple update to the program the next time you use it. If you have any questions, check out ourhelp files. To receive your AB CADD code to access that part of the design software, please contact the Allan Block engineering team at 800-899-5309 ext. 3 or at

If you do not have a copy of AB Walls, let us know as we are excited to provide and show you the value this tool can bring.

Contact us to receive a copy of AB Walls and/or schedule a tutorial! It is one of the best tools in the industry and you can utilize it to set you on the path of success.

Engineer Spotlight: Miles Champion

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Miles Champion is considered one of Allan Block's top designers in North Carolina, but how did he get there?

Miles went to the University of North Carolina - Charlotte as a Mechanical engineer. After he graduated, Miles was hired at a civil engineering firm that worked for the City of Hickory in North Carolina. While employed there, he learned the civil side of engineering and hasn't looked back.

Miles got into retaining wall designs through a non-conventional route. One of his clients asked for a boat dock design which turned into 3 designs. Miles would work on the boat dock designs in the evenings for his side work, this eventually led to sea wall designs for the same clients. Once he started designing sea walls, landscape contractors started to reach out to him for retaining wall designs. Miles started out with cast in place (CIP) walls but soon added segmental retaining walls (SRW's) and boulder walls to his repertoire.

When it comes to designing SRW's, Miles prefers to use Allan Block because of the support and software (AB Walls) Allan Block provides. "AB Walls Design Software made my job a lot easier as it removed the grunt work out of the calculations and provided a peace of mind that the calculations from one project to the next were consistent." Miles also likes the fact that AB Walls has been constantly updated with new features such as terraces, 3D modeling, and AB CADD. He also saw value in the fact that AB Walls allowed him to efficiently provide solutions for different scenarios. "For all retaining wall circumstances, I recommend Allan Block because they have solutions to accommodate the projects such as no fines concrete (NFC), double block walls and complex composite structures (CSS)."

Miles offered some advice for any engineer starting out in retaining walls: "Check out Allan Block for their support and software on available material. Get what you need when you need it."

Allan Block would like to thank Miles for his dedication to learning more about the industry and to promote proper SRW design.

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