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View Poll Results: OK To Use Railroad Ties As Floor For Pole Barn/Shop?
Don't Know 1 6.25%
No - bad decision 13 81.25%
Never heard of RR ties for floor 1 6.25%
Seen it before and should be fine 1 6.25%
Yes 0 0%
Voters: 16. This poll is closed

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Old 03-01-2009, 01:05 PM   #1
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I've just finished framing a 20x20 garage/shop and would like to use railroad ties as the floor. Wanted to know if anyone has had experience or heard of using RR ties as floor versus traditional concrete slab. On a budget right now and seems I can get the RR ties for $3 apiece compared to much more for concrete. I'm thinking RR ties would be strong and I can level them well one by one with my base frame. Any thoughts or ideas are welcomed.


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Old 03-01-2009, 02:26 PM   #2
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The creosote smell would be unbearable on hot days.


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Old 03-01-2009, 02:28 PM   #3
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Wow! That's going to take some wrapping my brain around. Truly interesting concept. Seems like you will be doing a lot of tongue and groove fabrication to key (lock) them together. And then about three days of sanding with 36 grit to begin with.

Probably have to resaw all of them first, too. I can see a beautiful, but stinky floor. Don't breathe the dust while you're sawing and sanding; it'll burn your throat raw! (Don't ask how I know. )
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Old 03-01-2009, 06:40 PM   #4
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Put in a stone floor. If you do it correct it will be a suitable base for concrete when you get the cash.
You could also asphalt it. Cheaper than concrete.
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Old 03-01-2009, 07:09 PM   #5
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You will never be able to effectively sweep a railroad tie floor. Plus getting it level would be a pain. I would go for compacted 3/4" tb before I would put down railroad ties.
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Old 03-01-2009, 07:53 PM   #6
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It sounds like a really cool idea, it would look rustic. But, there are some health risks associated with railroad ties. I found this info on the MSU-Bozeman website. It's not the entire article, just bits and pieces of it.

Creosote is the black gue that railroad ties are treated with. Creosote has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a probable carcinogen. Studies have shown increased risk of cancer and respiratory problems in plant workers repeatedly exposed to creosote. Exposure to creosote on the skin has been shown to cause rash and irritation and in an extreme case, cancer. Direct skin contact with creosote poses the most likely health risks to people outside industrial applications. When handling creosote treated wood, wear gloves and long sleeves and try to minimize time spent working with ties. Work in well ventilated areas and avoid working in hot conditions when vapors are most potent.
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Old 03-01-2009, 09:06 PM   #7
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Toe stubs, splinters, and poison. Sounds like a damn fine floor to me.
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Old 03-01-2009, 09:39 PM   #8
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I have seen old shop floors made with beams like cross ties, but they had cut them into short pcs. and laid them end grain up.
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Old 03-02-2009, 08:00 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Tscarborough View Post
Toe stubs, splinters, and poison. Sounds like a damn fine floor to me.
Agree, with the health hazards
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Old 03-02-2009, 08:48 AM   #10
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I have seen it before. It does smell, and I wouldn't want to spend much time in there knowing it is a potential health hazard. I'd go with stone as mentioned and pour over it when you have the cash. You could lay down some patio blocks in work / parking areas.
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Old 03-02-2009, 09:01 AM   #11
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concrete might not be as expensive as you think you still need a gravel base for the ties plus they tend to dull blades very quickly and are very heavy getting them all level and lined up could take awhile.redi-mix couple of hrs its done start using your shop alot quicker
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Old 03-02-2009, 12:19 PM   #12
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I agree, it would smell bad...
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Old 04-09-2009, 08:17 PM   #13
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Thank you for the feedback on the railroad ties. I going with the majority and forget about this project. Probably stick to plywood or straight packed gravel.

Good luck on your projects.

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Old 04-10-2009, 06:06 AM   #14
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Along the lines stated by 7echo, I also have seen many industrial floors built prior to "a long time ago" that were hardwood wooden blocks laid ends up. They, somehow, cut these back then so square that when laid they were very solid. I did some contract work in a textile mill back in the early '70's that had one entire floor, approximately 30,000 sq. ft. made entirely of this type flooring. They were driving fork lifts, and motorized pallet jacks on this floor. We were reluctant to drive in our 60K forklift and they insisted "you can't hurt this floor". It turned out we didn't even dent it. They used to coat this floor with the oils/fuel used to fire their huge boilers. That stuff was like molasses at normal S. GA. July temps. I really can't imagine the problems with making a floor with RR crossties laid flat, rounded edges, humped sides, etc.


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