Reclaimed railway sleeper grading: What does it mean?

Railway sleepers are thick pieces of wood, ideal for home and garden DIY projects.

In the home, sleepers are popularly used to make fireplace mantels, tables, chairs, and benches of all shapes and sizes.

Outside in the garden railway sleepers are commonly used to edge lawns and flowers beds, make garden furniture, raised flower beds, and even pathways and steps.

Their durability, longevity, and consistent size and shape make them the ideal building material, even for a beginner.

Not all reclaimed railway sleepers are equal though so it’s important to know what to look out for when buying. Sleepers can be purchased new or reclaimed, in hardwood or softwood, and in a variety of different grades.

Reclaimed railway sleeper grading explained

Depending where you buy your railway sleepers, they may be graded either A-C or 1-3. With Grade A or Grade 1 being the highest grade and Grade C or Grade 3 being the lowest.

The higher the grade of the sleeper the more you can expect to pay and the better condition it will be in.

Grade A / Grade 1

Generally, these sleepers will be in very good condition for their age. They may have a small amount of damage to one edge, but the other edges should be in sound condition and the whole sleeper should be free from rot. Sleepers will still feature bolt holes from where they were previously attached to the railway tracks.

Grade B / Grade 2

Grade B sleepers are usually also in very good condition but may feature some damage to one side of the sleeper and a small amount of rot on the underside. These sleepers should still have at least two good straight edges, allowing them to be stacked.

Grade C / Grade 3

Grade C sleepers may have more significant damage to most sides and a larger amount of rot. These sleepers should still feature at least one good side.

The grade of sleeper that you require will depend on the nature of your project and the look that you’re going for. Browse our reclaimed railway sleepers.