About Railway Sleepers

Railway Sleepers have become very popular over recent years with landscape gardeners and builders. They are a very versatile product that may be used in many different ways to enhance the landscape. Some of the most common uses of Railway Sleepers are:~

Raised Borders

Raised Beds

Vegaetable Gardens





Retaining Walls



Garden Furniture

Deck Areas

Fire Mantle Piece

Types of Railway Sleepers

There are 3 main types of Railway Sleepers, Reclaimed or Used Railway Sleepers, New Softwood Railway Sleepers and New Oak Railway Sleepers. Here at Sleepers Kent we specialise in New Railway Sleepers but can offer Reclaimed ones if required so please do ask and we will be pleased to offer you a quotation.

Reclaimed or Used Railway Sleepers

The majoirty of reclaimed or Used Railway Sleepers are 250mm x 150mm x 2.6m and are of course creasoted. A common question that we are frequently asked in respect of Used or Reclaimed Railway Sleepers is are the safe due to the creasote and the simple answer is yes they are quite safe to use but the EU directive states that they should not be used in areas where there may be frequent skin contact.

Generally speaking there are 3 grades of Reclaimed or Used Railway Sleepers on the market, all visually graded for landscaping and gardening purposes, as follows:~

Grade 1 -  The best of the Reclaimed Railway Sleepers on the market. Good quality with few defects. Ideal if they are to form a central feature of the garden or landscape.

Grade 2 - Less regular than the top grade and will contain more defects and will not be as straight. Suitable again for projects that are central to the garden or landscape.

Grade 3 - Generally speaking these are quite poor with little regularity and not recommended for projects as mentioned above. Ideal for projects that are hidden from the eye, ie bases for garden buildings, edging or kerbing and where part of the sleeper is hidden below the ground.

New Softwood Treated Railway Sleepers

New Softwood Treated Railway Sleepers have become very popular in recent years, they offer greater regularity and consistency than Reclaimed or Used Railway Sleepers whilst also being free from creasote and much lighter and easier to handle. One of the key features with New Railway Sleepers is that they are sawn for the gardening and landscaping market and as such are sawn to both traditional sizes and also smaller sizes that are easier to handle and work with, ie here at Sleepers Kent we offer not only a full size New Softwood Treated Railway Sleeper at 245mm x 120mm x 2.4m but also a very economical easy to handle 200mm x 100mm x 2.4m. New Softwood Treated Railway Sleepers are treated with either a green or brown pressure treatment (Tanalith green or Tanatone brown), both have similar properties and will on average last 15 - 20 years. The treatment colour will however weather to grey within 12 - 18 months.

New Treated Softwood Railway Sleepers are extremely versatile and can be used in many gardening and landscaping applications, ideal for raised beds and planters, retaining walls, steps and edging to name but a few. Relatively new to the market within this catergory of Railway Sleeper is a range of planed all round Softwood Treated Railway Sleepers, designed specifically for use in areas where there may be frequent contact and activity, ie childrens play areas or sand pits. These Railway Sleepers are ideal in such instances as they are smooth planed all round with eased edges, pleasing to the eye and of course less risk of splinters or injury. A photo of these Planed all round Softwood Treated Railway Sleepers may be seen below.

Sleepers Kent offers these planed all round Softwood Treated Railway Sleepers in 2 sizes, 240mm x 115mm x 2.4m and 240mm x 115mm x 1.2m

New Oak Railway Sleepers

Like New Softwood Treated Railway Sleepers these have also become very popular in recent years within the gardening and landscaping market. New Oak Railway Sleepers have been fresh sawn from green oak logs specifically for the gardening and landscape market. As such it is important to remember that they are 'green' and will contain some splits, shakes and have a rustic effect. Generally speaking, despite the aforementioned effects New Oak Railway Sleepers are sawn relatively straight and square and are ideal for both internal and external projects. Internally they are useful for constructing fire mantles or even rustic furniture, again bare in mind that once placed inside the timber will expand and contract allowing further splits and shakes to develop. Externally they may be used for raised beds which they are of course ideal for given that they are free from any treatment, steps, retaining walls, edging, kerbing, pathways and even surrounds to ponds and water features.

New Oak Railway Sleepers are extremely durable so require no further treatment and will last for many many years, up to 30 or 40. As they are very durable they are very dense and heavy which can make working with them quite difficult but again here at Sleepers Kent we acknowledge this and offer a economical, easy to handle and work with size of 200mm x 100mm x 2.4m.

Helpful Points On Railway Sleepers

  • Railway Sleepers, even the smaller new version are heavy and will require 2 people to lift and manoeuvre.
  • When handling Railway Sleepers always wear gloves.
  • Be wary of cutting or sawing Reclaimed or Used Railway Sleepers, quite often it is unclear as to how clean the Sleeper is on the inside and many of them will contain metal and defects collected from the tracks.
  • New Treated Softwood and New Oak Railway Sleepers are suitable for cutting and sawing but it is advisable when sawing a New treated Softwood Railway Sleeper to retreat the exposed or cut end.
  • All New Railway Sleepers will weather to a grey silver colour.
  • Railway Sleepers are by nature rustic, they will have or will develop splits and shakes.
  • Railway Sleepers are best fixed by using Timberlok fixings - whilst we do not offer these fixings through Sleepers Kent our associated outlets through TimberClick do offer.

Project Guide

Please visit our sister site to learn how to build a sandpit using Railway Sleepers 

Sleepers Kent is here to help you with any questions or queries that you may have surrounding Railway Sleepers so please feel free to call us on 01474 444182.