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How to Save Wooden Railway Sleepers from Decay

Posted in Railway Sleeper News by Admin on February 19th 2016

Wood products like railway sleepers are naturally prone to decay, especially when exposed to excessive heat and moisture. In order to preserve their beauty and to avoid fading, apply a good wood preserver to the sleeper where required. Alternatively, cheap railway sleepers that are already treated are also available.

The kind of wood preservative to use will depend on whether the sleeper is made from hardwood or softwood.

Difference between Hardwood and Softwood

The difference between hardwood and softwood is not classified based on its texture or its hardness and softness attributes; it depends on the seed. If the tree’s seed has a covering like a nut shell or fruit coat it is hardwood, while if the seed is bare and open to the elements it is softwood.

Wood Preservatives


This treatment is traditionally used to preserve and protect sleepers. However, due to its effect on the environment, people are now discouraged from using it. Although it is proven to be very effective in terms of wood preservation, its carbon rate is too high. In addition, creosote is flammable and a potential fire hazard.


Creocote is an oil-based creosote that is safer to use and more environmentally friendly. It is proven to be effective when applied to exterior wood projects such as garden sheds and fences.

Acid Copper Chromate (ACC)

This treatment is only suitable for industrial and commercial applications. It has high toxicity levels and can be harmful to anyone exposed to the treated wood. In fact, protective equipment is required when handling ACC treated wood.


The borate wood preservative is composed of natural minerals which protect wood from fungus, termites and other organisms that may cause wood decomposition. This preservative can be used indoors.

Whether hardwood or softwood, railway sleepers tend to turn grey if not treated. In order to make railway sleepers last longer, the right treatment and maintenance should be applied.

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