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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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How to Treat Railway Sleepers

How to Treat Railway Sleepers

Railway sleepers are a very popular garden landscaping material because they are attractive, hard-wearing and very versatile. They can be used to build retaining walls, garden borders and even benches. Wooden railway sleepers offer durability and a natural rustic look to any outdoor space, however, like your garden fence they do require some maintenance to help protect them from the elements.

Read on to learn our top tips on how best to treat your railway sleepers…


Protect new and old wooden railway sleepers from mould and rot with decking oils. These allow the sleepers to naturally age to a beautiful colour, whilst keeping them protected from the elements. Decking oils help to enhance and nourish many types of wood and are great for offering added protection against mould and various types of wood insects.


You may find that some reclaimed railway sleepers have been treated with creosote. This is now considered a toxic and potentially harmful substance and is no longer available to buy. It is important that a sleeper that has been treated with creosote is not used in any areas where it may come into contact with people or pets.

However if you like that dark grain creosote effect, a modern replacement has been developed called Creocote. Barrettine Creocote is available in both light and dark shades and provides a safer and more environmentally friendly alternative for treating railway sleepers.

Wood Preserver

Reclaimed railway sleepers can last for decades without being treated. However, to help nourish and protect the timber from decay it is a good idea to apply a wood preservative.

Wood preservative treatments provide garden sleepers with protective properties that help prevent rot, mould and fungal growth, as well as help to form a defence against the elements.

It is best to apply a wood preservative before installation of your sleeper, so that you can paint all sides. It is also important that you add a thicker coat of the preservative to any sawn ends.