New railway sleepers are available in either treated softwood or sawn oak, which is left untreated. The reason oak sleepers are left untreated is because oak is an incredibly dense and durable timber and does not rot readily when in ground contact. Because these railway sleepers are untreated, they can be used to build indoor furniture, such as rustic coffee tables of fireplace hearths and are great for vegetable beds in the garden.
The lower cost softwood sleepers are pressure treated for extra protection against rot, as softwood is not naturally as durable. This does mean that the new softwood sleepers are lighter to manoeuvre around your garden, but are less suitable for prolonged ground contact.
Sleepers are incredibly versatile and can be used for a wide range of projects. Some of the most common include raised beds for plants and vegetables, ponds, edging and retaining walls to support banks of soil. They are also ideal for creating stream bridges, outside benches and steps.
Reclaimed railway sleepers have been treated with creosote and are incredibly long lasting. Creosote treatment allows the timber to be used for years on a railway track and still be suitable for resale, such is the effectiveness of the treatment. They are frequently used for soil retention and are particularly durable so ideal for supporting large banks of soil, although we would not recommend they are used to make vegetable beds.
Because these sleepers have been treated with creosote, they should not be used indoors, in areas with a risk of frequent skin contact or in contact with foodstuffs. When handling these sleepers, you should wear gloves.
If you would like any advice on how to use sleepers in your project, or help on deciding which type of railway sleeper is best for you to use, please get in contact with our sales team who will be happy to assist.