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Railway Sleepers

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Introducing railway sleepers into your garden is a fantastic way to bring unique aesthetic elements and texture - from the weathered look of reclaimed timber to the crisp, new cuts of freshly cut sleepers. For decades, timber sleepers have been a staple of landscape gardeners' designs due to their hardiness and versatility. From retaining walls and flower beds to paths and steps, these natural-looking materials can add rustic charm to any landscape project. 

Find Out More About Our Types of Timber Sleepers
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What once was the backbone of railway lines is now a popular solution in landscaping. 

The reasons for this are many and varied, but suffice to say that railway sleepers (otherwise known as railroad ties) offer great versatility for gardeners and landscapers. 

These large rectangular sawn timber pieces, which were formerly used to lay railway tracks, can be utilised in a variety of garden and leisure applications such as:

  • Raised Bed Applications
  • Raised Pond
  • Drive, Lawn & Garden Edging
  • Retaining Walls
  • Paths
  • Borders
  • Garden Steps
  • Garden Furniture
  • General Landscaping
  • Garden Projects

Wooden Railway Sleeper Specifications

As their name suggests, railways sleepers were originally used as support for the rails on a railway track. There is a vast range of wooden railway sleepers available on the market: from hardwood railway sleepers (oak sleepers) and softwood railway sleepers to reclaimed railway sleepers for those who prefer a rustic, vintage look.

At Materials Market, we stock a wide range of green-treated softwood sleepers to suit any landscaping project.

Let's check the specs: 

  • Provides a natural look in any outdoor living space - natural composition subject to colour variations
  • Tanalised to withstand weather conditions, rot and insect attack 
  • Cost-effective alternative to traditional hardwood oak railway sleepers
  • Made from sustainably sourced timber (FSC-certified)
  • Ideal for creating raised beds and a wide range of landscaping projects
  • Good elasticity and light weight composition
  • Green treated to prolong service life 
  • Can be stained with a wood protective treatment to match your desired aesthetic

Reclaimed Railway Sleepers

If you're a fan of sustainability and upcycling, reclaimed sleepers offer limitless potential in the realm of landscape gardening. From raised garden beds to patio furniture or even creating a fragrant herb garden, these versatile materials will enable you to craft truly impressive pieces with minimal effort. In an age where so much is disposable and fleeting, reclaiming wooden sleepers is one way that we can both reduce our environmental impact and beautify our outdoor spaces at the same time!

How To Cut A Garden Sleeper

Although a simple hand saw can be used to cut softwood sleepers, the best method for cutting railway sleepers is with a circular saw.

However, keep in mind that you may need to make more than one pass with the blade to completely cut through the sleeper - first cut through one side, then turn the sleeper over and recut.

It's also important to remember when cutting treated softwood sleepers that cut ends should be treated with an appropriate wood preservative to ensure the timber stays weatherproofed. Time should be given to the drying process before installing the sleepers. 

Frequently Asked Timber Sleepers Questions

What Are Concrete Sleepers? 

Concrete railway sleepers are the ideal symmetrical material for building in and around farms, gardens, or other outdoor spaces. Their hardwearing construction makes them suitable for any number of heavy-duty applications from creating a retaining wall to creating a path or drive that withstands heavy traffic. 

What Are The Four Types of Railway Sleepers? 

There are four primary types of garden sleepers: 

  • Steel railway sleeper
  • Wooden sleeper
  • Concrete sleeper
  • Composite sleeper

What Is The Difference Between Green & Brown Treatments?

Brown timber receives the exact same preservation treatment as green timber, the only difference is that a brown dye is added to give it a darker hue. However, this colouring agent does not possess any additional protective properties beyond its aesthetic appeal.

What Are The Differences Between Softwood & Hardwood? 

There are all sorts of construction timbers out there on the market, each with its own unique set of properties. 

For those deciding between a softwood or hardwood sleeper, here's a quick rundown of some of the most popular options:

  • Softwoods: These are typically lighter and less expensive than hardwoods, making them a popular choice for general construction purposes. However, they're not as durable as hardwoods, so they're not ideal for applications where long-term wear and tear is a concern. Softwood is wood from gymnosperm trees such as conifers.
  • Hardwoods: Hardwoods are more durable than softwoods and are often used for flooring, decking, and other high-traffic structure areas. They can be more expensive than softwoods, but their longer lifespan often makes them a more cost-effective option in the long run.
  • Engineered Woods: Engineered woods are created by combining different types of wood fibers to create a product that is stronger and more stable than solid wood. This makes them ideal for use in areas where moisture or temperature fluctuations could cause problems for solid wood products.

What's The Difference Between Treated Timber And Non-Treated Timber?

Simply put, untreated timber is as it sounds; it is not treated with preservatives or chemicals. This makes it a more "natural" solution. Treated timber, on the other hand, is treated with chemicals and preservatives to make it last longer and protect it from rot, wear, and pests.

Pressure treatment, also known as tanalisation, is a process to ensure the longevity and durability of timber. Our treated timber is pressure treated using Tanalith ‘E', producing tanalised timber. Dried Timber has been dried to specifically reduce moisture content.

Here at Materials Market, all our timber is treated with preservatives, kiln dried, and then planed all round to give it eased edges that make it easier to handle.

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