How do tiebacks work?

Tiebacks are used to provide lateral support to an excavation support system or retaining wall by anchoring into the soil behind an excavation. Tiedowns are similar to tiebacks, but are used to provide vertical support to a foundation to resist hydrostatic uplift, wind and seismic loads.

Schnabel has the expertise to help you determine the solution you need.



Tiebacks are used to provide the lateral resisting force for many of the excavation support systems and retaining walls that Schnabel builds. They are constructed by grouting a high strength steel bar or strand bundle into the soil or rock behind the failure surface of the retaining wall. After the grout has cured, every tieback is tested and the load is locked in to limit movement.

In addition to their use in the construction of new retaining structures, tiebacks are also used to stabilize existing retaining walls which are moving or deteriorating. Schnabel has patented systems for the tieback connections and facings used for the repair of distressed MSE, Bin and cantilevered retaining walls and has specialized equipment for drilling tiebacks through failing bulheads along the waterfront. Tiebacks are also used to stabilize landslides where the tieback can be anchored in the soil or rock below the slide failure plane.

Tiebacks can be used for both temporary and permanent applications. Permanent tiebacks differ from temporary tiebacks in that the critical components of the tieback tendon and anchor head are protected from corrosion. Tiebacks can be anchored into most types of soil and rock. The capacity of the anchors in soil will vary depending upon soil type and installation method. Denser, granular soils will typically produce higher capacity tiebacks. Schnabel has installed tiebacks with lengths in excess of 200 feet and tested capacities of over 500 kips.

A slight variation of the tieback is the tiedown. The construction is similar, but the direction of the force is primarily vertical rather than horizontal. Tiedowns are used to resist hydrostatic uplift on structures built below the water table, seismic loads created by earthquakes and uplift forces caused by wind loading on a building.

To learn how Schnabel’s years of experience can help you, please contact one of our regional offices.

Sub-surface to street level, safely and efficiently.

Port of Houston

Schnabel stabilized two existing 25-ft tall sheet pile walls at the Port of Houston in Texas using permanent tiebacks after one wall failed and threatened to cause congestion at the Port.

Pepperdine Graduate Campus

Schnabel stabilized a landslide at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California using six rows of permanent tieback anchors.

The key to success on the Port of Houston project was having the right equipment to reach up and install the tiebacks. Our engineering design eliminated the need for walers which really helped the schedule. Encasement of the anchor heads in concrete was critical to the long-term corrosion protection of the tiebacks especially in the marine environment. Forde Construction planned and coordinated the project exceptionally well so the work could be done safely while not disrupting the vital truck and railroad traffic flow at the very busy Port of Houston.

Ernie Brandl, P.E., Port of Houston Project

The Port of Houston was an exciting project, that demanded continuous attention to detail. At some sections of our tieback walls,  rock was encountered at a higher elevation than originally considered. To keep the project moving, Schnabel collected and reviewed data on a daily basis, then updated our design as needed in preparation for the next day’s operations.

Michael Vaughan


Schnabel is the sector’s most operationally efficient Geostuctural Design & Construction contractor. We optimize efficiencies by everaging decades of experience and design/build expertise, to innovate processes and approaches that are consistently proven to deliver optimal outcomes for our clients.

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