How to Use Railroad Ties as Privacy Fence

Railroad ties, also known as sleepers, are thick, durable wooden beams originally used to support railroad tracks but have now become a popular material for various landscaping projects. Their robust construction, affordable cost, and rustic appeal make them an ideal choice to construct a privacy fence that not only shields your property from prying eyes but also adds a unique and charming aesthetic to your landscape design.

Can I Use Railroad Ties for Fence?

Railroad ties can indeed be used as a great alternative for privacy fence construction. These heavy and sturdy pieces of lumber can provide an attractive and rustic look to your property while serving as an effective barrier. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before utilizing railroad ties for fencing.

First and foremost, it’s important to consider the potential health hazards associated with these materials. Old railroad ties are often treated with creosote, a chemical preservative that helps prevent decay and insect damage. While this treatment extends the life of the wood, it can also pose risks if not handled properly. Creosote contains toxic substances that can be harmful to humans and animals. Therefore, it’s recommended to avoid using railroad ties near water supplies, as the chemicals can contaminate the water. Additionally, it’s advisable to keep them away from areas where humans and animals will directly come into contact with them using bare skin.

Another crucial aspect to think about is the longevity and durability of the ties themselves. Since railroad ties have already been subjected to harsh outdoor conditions, they’re generally designed to withstand the elements fairly well. However, it’s important to inspect each tie thoroughly before using them in your fence project. Look out for signs of rot, cracks, or other damage that may compromise their integrity. This will ensure that your fence remains stable and secure for a longer period of time.

When utilizing railroad ties for fencing, it’s recommended to remove any remaining railroad spikes or hardware from the ties. These protrusions can pose potential safety risks, both during installation and afterwards. Removing them will prevent injuries and make the ties easier to work with.

To set up your privacy fence, you’ll need to properly anchor the railroad ties into the ground. It’s advisable to dig a hole for each post and set them with concrete to ensure stability.

However, it’s crucial to handle these materials with caution due to the potential health risks associated with their treatment. By avoiding water supplies and direct skin contact, and by thoroughly inspecting the ties for damage, you can create a beautiful fence that not only ensures privacy but also meets safety standards for your property.

Alternatives to Using Railroad Ties for Fencing

  • Concrete blocks
  • Vinyl fencing
  • Corrugated metal sheets
  • Rail panels
  • Bamboo poles
  • Stone walls
  • Wooden pallets
  • Chain-link fencing
  • Brick columns
  • Gabion walls
  • Composite materials
  • Living fences
  • Wrought iron fences
  • Plastic lumber

However, if you’re interested in repurposing railroad ties for your landscaping needs, it’s essential to understand that burying them isn’t an appropriate disposal method. Due to their designation as regulated waste, railroad ties shouldn’t be burned, mulched, or buried. Instead, they should be disposed of in a sanitary landfill to ensure proper environmental management.

Can I Bury Railroad Ties?

Railroad ties have been widely embraced in landscaping for their durability and rustic appeal. However, it’s important to note that these ties are considered regulated waste and must be disposed of properly. Burying, burning, or mulching them isn’t recommended, as they can release toxic chemicals into the environment.

If youre seeking to repurpose railroad ties as a privacy fence, it’s crucial to follow proper guidelines. Firstly, avoid burying the ties. Although it may seem like an easy solution, it can lead to environmental contamination and is likely to be against regulations. Instead, focus on using them above ground in a safe and responsible manner.

When installing your railroad tie privacy fence, it’s important to maintain a suitable distance from the ground. Ensure that the ties are kept at least a couple of inches above the soil to prevent direct contact with moisture, which can speed up decay and compromise their structural integrity. Additionally, regular inspection and maintenance are crucial to address any signs of decay, insect infestations, or other potential issues.

Lastly, it’s worth emphasizing the importance of proper disposal if you decide to remove or replace your railroad tie fence in the future. Remember to contact the appropriate waste management authorities in your area for guidance on responsible disposal methods. This won’t only ensure compliance with regulations but also help protect the environment and public health.

Instead, focus on utilizing them above ground and employing proper installation techniques for a secure and durable fence.

Securing railroad ties to a wall requires a reliable approach, and our recommended method utilizes pre-cut lengths of rebar, ensuring stability. By inserting the rebar through two railroad ties at a time, beginning with the base layer, you can extend this technique as you progress upwards along the wall. With this systematic approach, you can secure the railroad ties effectively and enhance their overall support.

How Do You Secure Railroad Ties to the Wall?

When it comes to securing railroad ties to a wall, the best method is to use pre-cut lengths of rebar. This sturdy metal rod can be driven through two railroad ties at a time, providing a strong and reliable connection. To begin, start with your base railroad ties and work your way up the height of the wall from there.

To ensure a secure attachment, it’s important to properly align the railroad ties and drive the rebar through both ties. This will create a sturdy bond that can withstand the test of time. After placing the first pair of railroad ties in position, use a hammer or mallet to drive the pre-cut rebar into the ground. Make sure the rebar is inserted at a sufficient depth to provide stability.

Repeat the process of aligning the ties and driving the rebar through them. This will provide even more stability and ensure that the ties don’t sag or come loose over time.

Continue this process until you’ve secured all the railroad ties in place. Be sure to check the alignment and stability of each tie as you go along. It may be necessary to use a level to ensure that the wall remains straight and even.

By using this method of securing railroad ties with pre-cut lengths of rebar, you can create a sturdy and reliable privacy fence. This type of fence can provide both privacy and visual appeal to your outdoor space, while also being durable enough to withstand the elements. With proper installation and maintenance, your railroad tie privacy fence can provide years of enjoyment and security.

How to Remove or Replace Railroad Ties That Have Been Secured to a Wall.

  • Start by gathering the necessary tools: a pry bar, a hammer, a reciprocating saw, and safety gear.
  • Use the pry bar to loosen the railroad ties from the wall. Apply pressure and gently pry them away.
  • If the ties are firmly secured, use the hammer to tap the pry bar and create a gap between the wall and the ties.
  • Once you’ve a gap, take the reciprocating saw and cut through any screws or nails securing the ties to the wall.
  • Remove the ties one by one, making sure to support them as you go to prevent any injuries or damage.
  • If you wish to replace the ties, measure the length and thickness of the old ones and purchase new ones accordingly.
  • Install the new ties by positioning them against the wall and securing them with screws or nails.
  • Make sure to check the levelness and alignment of the ties as you go to ensure a proper installation.
  • Once all the new ties are in place, clean up any debris and enjoy your refreshed wall space.

Source: How to Build Retaining Wall Using Railroad Ties

When it comes to cutting old railroad ties, safety should be your top priority. These hefty wooden blocks may present some hazards that require careful consideration. For instance, some railroad ties are coated with creosote, a dangerous chemical known to be carcinogenic. Others may have rocks and gravel embedded in them, which can pose a risk to your tools. With these potential dangers in mind, it’s crucial to approach the task of cutting railroad ties with caution and take the necessary precautions.

Is It Safe to Cut Old Railroad Ties?

When considering whether it’s safe to cut old railroad ties, it’s crucial to approach the task with caution. Cutting railroad ties isn’t an easy task and requires proper care and attention. One important aspect to consider is that some railroad ties may be coated in a carcinogenic chemical called creosote. Creosote is used as a preservative and can pose health risks if inhaled or if it comes into contact with the skin. To ensure your safety during cutting, it’s strongly suggested to wear protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and a face mask.

It’s worth noting that disposing of the cut railroad ties can also be a concern. Due to their potentially hazardous nature, it’s advisable to contact your local waste management facility or authorities to inquire about specific disposal methods for railroad ties in your area. They’ll be able to provide guidance on the appropriate way to handle and dispose of this material safely and responsibly.

By wearing protective gear, inspecting the ties for potential hazards and utilizing the right tools, you can mitigate the risks associated with this task. Additionally, consulting local authorities regarding proper disposal methods will ensure that you handle the material responsibly, promoting both safety and environmental well-being.

Railroad ties, once removed from the tracks, undergo a process to determine their quality and condition. The railroads then sell them to contractors who collect and transport them for various purposes. Those ties that can still be re-used and are in good condition find their way into the market, as they’re sorted and sold to businesses that cater to consumers who often utilize them for landscaping projects and other creative uses.

What Do Railroads Do With Old Railroad Ties?

Railroad ties have a long and storied history within the railway industry, but what happens to them once they’re no longer needed? These discarded ties are usually sold to contractors who specialize in collecting them.

Upon collection, the ties are sorted to identify their condition and potential for re-use. Ties that are still in good condition and suitable for re-use are segregated from those that are not. The viable ties are then sold to businesses that specifically deal in re-selling them to consumers, often for various landscaping purposes.

Consumers and homeowners can find a multitude of uses for railroad ties, especially as a privacy fence. They offer a rustic and sturdy appearance that can enhance the overall look of a property while providing privacy and security.

Next, dig holes for the fence posts, making sure to go deep enough to ensure stability and longevity. Insert the posts into the holes and backfill them with gravel or concrete for additional support. Once the posts have been securely installed, attach the railroad ties horizontally, using screws or brackets, creating a solid and continuous fence structure.

The sturdy nature of these ties ensures your fence will stand the test of time, providing you with privacy, security, and a visually appealing backdrop for years to come.


By following the steps discussed, you can successfully create a sturdy and secure barrier that provides privacy, noise reduction, and a rustic aesthetic. Furthermore, incorporating vegetation or decorative elements can further enhance the fence's appeal, creating an inviting and secluded atmosphere.

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