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Lawsons are the largest independent timber, building & fencing merchants in London and the South East of England. Established in 1921 Lawsons now have a number of branches offering the complete range of building materials.

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Can I Use Railway Sleepers to Build a Garden Deck?

Railway sleepers are both very easy to use and incredibly versatile; our clients have used them for everything from making garden paths through to creating one-of-a-kind piece of furniture for their homes or gardens. That versatility means that people often want to use them for numerous items throughout the garden so that they match, or they can buy in bulk to save money. That said, there are limits to their uses and while railway sleepers can help you build a deck, they are not an ideal material for the entire decking surface.

Creating a Raised Deck

If you’re making a raised deck, railway sleepers are an excellent material for building up the platform and creating neat edges for your decking area. We strongly recommend using new rather than used railway sleepers for this as used railway sleepers have a coating that makes them more difficult to use for this function. Sleepers are also ideal for building walls or balustrades for your decking area.

The Challenges of Using Sleepers for Decking

It’s possible to build a decking area using railway sleepers for the surface itself, but you will come up against a number of challenges. Securing the railway sleepers in place and keeping them flat may be difficult (especially if you have made a concrete foundation for the decking area). Used sleepers have also not been designed specifically for this purpose, so unlike wooden or composite decking boards, there are no grooves to prevent your deck from becoming slippery over time. However, you can change the texture of your sleepers yourself, which will allow you to keep your decking safe and slip-resistant. Alternatively, you could use new sleepers for the entire deck.

Finally, a deck made entirely from railway sleepers will be more expensive than a deck made with traditional decking materials. However, many homeowners like the overall effect and believe that it’s worth the extra cash.

Building a Sleeper Deck

If you choose to build a deck using railway sleepers, it can be completed in the same way as a railway sleeper path, but with a larger area. Remember to add sand to keep your sleepers in position and secure each sleeper properly. You will also need to seal and maintain your deck properly to ensure that the sleepers last and to prevent family members or guests from slipping on the wood.