An estimated 17.5 million railway sleepers are holding up the railways in the UK. But there are many more used for a variety of other purposes.
Used and new railway sleepers are great for your garden, your new deck, art and sculptures, and much more. Railway sleepers may not be something you think about very often. However, because they can last for a long time, they are great for many home projects.
Sourcing good quality railway sleepers is the key. Making sure you get the best quality sleeper you can find will make your project a success. Whether you’re looking for new or used railway sleepers it’s worth spending time on locating quality products.
There are different sources of railway sleepers. We’ve put together this guide so that you have the information you need to find the supplier that suits your needs.
What Exactly is a Railway Sleeper?
When the first railways were built, engineers developed a new method to hold the two tracks together and to keep them in place. The system used a strong piece of wood laid every 65cm-75cm along the track-bed. The sleepers keep the two tracks at the right distance, or gauge, apart.
Modern railways tend to use concrete or composite sleepers. But the traditional material was wood. Both softwood and hardwood are used in railway sleepers. The choice depends on the location of the track and the speed and load requirements.
Unless you’re building a heavy-duty fallout bunker or are dabbling in constructionist art, you’re going to prefer wooden railway sleepers for your home project!
Potential Uses for Your Railway Sleepers
One of the great things about sourcing wooden railway sleepers is that you can use them for many different and fun projects. They are versatile and attractive.
People have used sleepers for everything from raised vegetable gardens to an alternative to stone or gravel paving. Other potential uses include:
- Edging your garden
- Dividing walls
- Posts on which to hang art or bird feeders
The great thing is that potential uses for properly sourced railway sleepers are almost limitless. Simply let your imagination run wild.
Make Sure You Have the Best Quality for Your Project
No matter what project you have in mind, it’s important to use high-quality railway sleepers. It’s also important to treat your sleepers with something to help them last a long time. A properly treated sleeper can last as long as fifty years.
Treating sleepers is usually done with creosote. Yes, it’s smelly, but it works. You don’t want your new project to fall apart because your lovely sleepers start rotting. You can also use decking oils or wood preservatives.
You also need to choose whether to use new sleepers or used ones.
Choosing to source new railway sleepers gives you peace of mind. You’ll know exactly where the sleepers come from. You’ll also know you’re getting a quality product.
Suppliers of new railway sleepers stock typically stock pine or spruce sleepers. These are softwoods. They won’t last quite as long as a hardwood sleeper but they are lighter and so easier to manoeuvre.
You will also have more choice over how your finished project looks. New railway sleepers come in various colours. You can also choose the treatment and finish on the sleeper.
Used (or Reclaimed) Sleepers
One of the great things about using used, or reclaimed, railway sleepers is that it’s good for the environment. No new tree was felled for your lovely sleeper. They also look fantastic because of ageing and wear they already have.
Used railway sleepers tend to be made of hardwood. They are more durable than new, softwood, sleepers. If you need clean, straight edges and uniform size and shape for your project you might not want reclaimed sleepers.
Reclaimed sleepers are usually cheaper than new ones. So, if you choose to use reclaimed sleepers you’re amazing project will likely be more economical.
Where to Source Good Quality Railway Sleepers
There are many good sources of railway sleepers in the UK. A quick online search will bring up many options. If you live in the Bristol area, we’d be honoured to help you find the best new sleepers for your project. We deliver your new sleepers to you within 3 to 5 days.
Again, there are many sources of reclaimed railway sleepers. Do your research because used sleepers have a wider variance in quality than new ones. Prices are also more varied.
You will also find you can source used railway sleepers from private sellers. Again, we recommend you do your research. While you may get a better price from a private seller you might not get the same quality guarantees as you would from a dealer.
Our Sleepers, Your Project
Building something with your own hands on your own property is a lot of fun. Building that project with new or used railway sleepers will give your new raised garden bed, landscaping, or bench a timeless look. It will last and it will do the job you want it to.
Sourcing quality railway sleepers from businesses you can trust is important. Make sure you are picking and getting the right kind of sleeper for the job. Use what you learned in this article and you’ll have all the information you need to make the best choice.
We believe that the high-quality, reasonably priced new railway sleepers we stock are second to none. We have years of experience providing satisfied customers with railway sleepers. We’d like to work with you on your next project so that you’ll end up satisfied, too.
We have a great team. We’ll help you estimate your needs and costs. Give us a call today to learn more about our railway sleepers.