New, as well as reclaimed railway sleepers have become very useful to many landscapers as they can be used in a number of ways in to improve the look of a garden. Seen as something similar to oversized pieces of Lego, the main benefit of them is that they last for decades. Not only can they be used for outdoor, many people use them for indoor use, for example above your fireplace or around windows. If you are considering using railway sleepers for any of these uses, here is your guide of everything you need to know before you buy:
Sleepers are available in a range of different lengths and so they can be purchased to fit the space that you need them to-they can also be cut by your supplier. The most common length is 2.6 metres, however they can be found in both longer and shorter lengths. The width is fairly standard but can vary slightly, the same with the depth, however there is a slight difference between British and European sleepers.
Their weight will also vary and this will mostly depend on the wood that you are using. They can come in softwood and hardwood, and a number of specific types in each case. This will give them a different look both in colour and robustness. For example purchasing ones with a timeless appearance will give your garden a more rustic look than a new, softwood sleeper.
The main difference between new and reclaimed sleepers is that the reclaimed ones are not treated with creosote. This is what will change the look of them to a darker finish, however uses of reclaimed sleepers are slightly more restricted as there has been some speculation of the safety uses of creosote. Such hardwood sleepers should not be used for indoor use or somewhere where they could come into contact with the skin, or food-this includes surrounding a vegetable patch. They should also be handled with gloves if cutting and building them yourself.
Their use in the garden can include a range of things such as using them for raised flower beds, to edge a pond, for steps, furniture or for building decking. However as pointed out above, the use of railway sleepers for certain things will be restricted if you are using reclaimed hardwood sleepers. It is always best to double check with your supplier about the intentions you have for reclaimed railway sleepers and they can advise accordingly.