Improving Railroad Tie Steps With Brick – A Complete Guide

Railroad ties are a crucial component of railway infrastructure, providing support and stability to the tracks. However, over time, these ties can deteriorate, leading to safety concerns and decreased efficiency. One effective way to enhance the durability and aesthetic appeal of railroad tie steps is by incorporating brick elements. Introducing bricks into the construction process can significantly improve the overall functionality and appearance of these vital structures. By seamlessly integrating bricks with the existing ties, railway authorities can ensure a more sustainable, long-lasting, and visually pleasing solution. Incorporating bricks offers the opportunity to reinforce the integrity of the steps while simultaneously enhancing their aesthetic value, benefiting both railway users and the surrounding environment.

Do They Make Plastic Railroad Ties?

Railroad ties made of 100 percent reinforced recycled plastic are indeed available in the market today. These innovative alternatives provide numerous benefits over traditional wooden ties. Firstly, the use of recycled plastic material significantly reduces installation, maintenance, and replacement costs. As these ties are made from recycled materials, they contribute to a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution for railway infrastructure.

Moreover, these plastic ties provide substantial energy and production cost savings. The manufacturing process for plastic ties generally requires less energy and fewer resources compared to traditional methods of wooden tie production. This not only reduces energy consumption but also decreases the overall carbon footprint associated with rail infrastructure development.

Using gravel under railroad ties can provide several benefits. One of the main advantages is it’s ability to absorb excess water, preventing potential warping or shifting of the retaining wall. When installing the first railroad tie, it’s important to leave sufficient space around it that can be filled with gravel. This helps to enhance the stability and durability of the structure.

Should I Put Gravel Under Railroad Ties?

This will help to provide proper drainage and prevent water from accumulating and causing damage to the railroad ties. Additionally, putting gravel under the railroad ties can help to stabilize them and prevent them from sinking or shifting over time. The gravel acts as a solid base that helps to distribute the weight of the ties evenly, reducing the risk of any movement or displacement.

Furthermore, the use of gravel also helps to improve the overall stability and durability of the retaining wall. By providing a solid foundation, the gravel helps to support the weight and pressure exerted on the wall, reducing the risk of cracks or collapse. It also helps to minimize the impact of freeze-thaw cycles, as the gravel allows any water to drain away, preventing the expansion and contraction that can damage the wall.

When selecting gravel for this purpose, it’s important to choose a size that’s appropriate for the application. Typically, a medium-sized gravel, such as pea gravel or crushed stone, is recommended. It’s also important to ensure that the gravel is properly compacted to avoid any settling or shifting over time.

Railroads have long relied on concrete ties for several reasons. While wooden ties may offer resilience and leave only a wheel mark on the track, concrete ties prove more durable on sharp curves where rails tend to wear out and require frequent replacement.

Why Do Railroads Use Concrete Ties?

Railroads choose to use concrete ties for a variety of reasons. One significant advantage of concrete ties is their durability and longevity compared to wooden ties. Their ability to withstand the constant weight of trains without breaking or deteriorating makes them an attractive option for railroads seeking long-term investment and cost-effectiveness.

Moreover, concrete ties offer improved resistance to environmental conditions and natural disasters. They’re less susceptible to rot, corrosion, and damage from pests, which are common issues faced by wooden ties.

They don’t need to be treated or replaced as frequently, saving both time and resources for railroads.

Their widespread use contributes to the overall efficiency and safety of railroad systems worldwide.

In addition to naturally durable woods like redwood, cedar, cypress, and black locust, there are other alternatives to creosote-soaked railroad ties in landscaping. Pressure-treated wood is available for purchase, or you can choose to buy clear wood and treat the timbers yourself. These options provide a safer and more environmentally-friendly alternative for your landscaping projects.

What Are Alternative to Railroad Ties in Landscaping?

Another alternative to railroad ties in landscaping is using concrete blocks or bricks. These materials are durable and can be stacked or laid in various patterns to create retaining walls, raised beds, or edging. Concrete blocks and bricks come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, allowing for flexibility in design and creating a visually appealing landscape.

Another option is using natural stone or rocks. These materials provide a unique and natural look to the landscape. They can be used to build retaining walls, pathways, or decorative features. Natural stones and rocks are durable and require minimal maintenance, making them a long-lasting and sustainable choice for landscaping projects.

Additionally, recycled plastic or composite materials can be used as an alternative to railroad ties. They’re resistant to termites, rot, and decay, making them a low-maintenance option. Recycled plastic or composite materials are also environmentally friendly, as they reduce plastic waste and can be recycled again at the end of their lifespan.

Another alternative is using metal or steel edging. Metal edging provides a sleek and modern look to the landscape. It can be used to create boundaries between different areas, define pathways, or retain soil. Metal or steel edging is durable, long-lasting, and requires minimal maintenance. It also allows for flexibility in terms of shape and design.

Lastly, using woven willow or bamboo can be an eco-friendly alternative to railroad ties. These natural materials are renewable and can be bent or woven into various shapes and structures. Woven willow or bamboo can be used for creating raised beds, borders, or trellises. They provide a rustic and organic look to the landscape and blend well with natural surroundings.

Source: Railroad tie alternatives – please advice

One common and practical way to build steps in your outdoor space is by using wood and gravel. This method provides a sturdy and aesthetically pleasing solution. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of building wood and gravel steps, from excavating the area to securing the steps together. So let’s get started!

How Do You Build Wood and Gravel Steps?

Building wood and gravel steps can be a simple and rewarding DIY project. To start, youll need to excavate the area where you want to place the steps. This involves removing any existing steps or large rocks that may be in the way. A shovel and sledgehammer will come in handy for this step.

After excavation, it’s important to grade the area to ensure a level surface for your steps. This can be done by adding or removing soil as needed. Take the time to double-check the levelness using a level or other measuring tool.

Next, youll need to cut posts that will serve as the support for your steps. These posts can be made from pressure-treated lumber, which is resistant to moisture and rot. Cut the posts to the desired height and make sure they’re all the same length.

Once the posts are ready, assemble them by attaching horizontal boards between them. This will create a frame structure for your steps. Use nails or screws to securely attach the boards to the posts.

Position the bottom step by placing it on top of the frame structure. Make sure it’s centered and level. You can use a level or measuring tool to ensure accuracy.

To secure the frame placement, use stakes or anchors to attach it firmly to the ground. This will prevent any movement or shifting of the steps over time.

Now it’s time to secure the steps together. Use nails or screws to attach the treads to the frame structure. Make sure they’re evenly spaced and securely fastened.

Before adding the gravel, lay a weed block or landscape fabric on the ground. This will help prevent weeds from growing between the steps.

Finally, add gravel to the steps, filling the spaces between the treads. Use a shovel or rake to spread the gravel evenly and make sure it’s compacted.

Alternative Materials for the Treads of the Steps, Such as Stone or Concrete

  • Stone treads
  • Concrete treads


It provides stability and durability, ensuring safe passage for individuals. Integrating proper drainage techniques can prevent soil erosion and maintain the integrity of the steps over time. Attention to detail, such as ensuring proper measurements, level installation, and secure attachment, is crucial in creating long-lasting and reliable steps. Additionally, periodic maintenance, including sealing and cleaning, can prolong the lifespan of the bricks and keep the steps looking pristine.

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