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Roger's Question about Railroad Ties

Hi John,

In an earlier post you wrote:
"I don't even care if the railroad tie, with termites, is a foot or two from the house.  It ain't the house.  So that's my take on RR ties.  BTW, I have railroad ties all around my house, and patio, and yes, some surely have termites, but I'm certainly not worried about it."

I have railroad ties with termites and like you said, I'm not worried about the house.  But in my case, the railroad ties are a structural part of the terracing for where I park the car & and really the layout of where people come and go.  (picture a step/edge, the bottom and one vertical of a tie is in the ground, the top and other vertical is exposed, the top is flush with the ground level).  So how do I stop the termites and save these railroad ties?

Thanks.  Roger H.  (in Bloomington, Indiana)

And I wrote back with....

Hello, Rog:

How to save the ties?  You probably can't.  If they're pretty far gone, I wouldn't even try.  And I wouldn't waste money or chemical treating RR ties anyway, just replace them.  Are they REAL RR ties?  The REAL ones are pressure treated with creosote - like the old-type telephone pole.  

There is another type:  Those pressure treated with arsenate compounds.  They usually have a "green" appearance.

Lastly, there are landscaping ties.  Those are generally not pressure treated at all, merely painted, dipped or soaked in some treatment solution.  This last type will last only a few years, (6-10) while the pressure treated varieties may last from 30 to 80 years.

It would be best to determine which you have.  If you have REAL ties, and they are disintegrating, maybe you should use concrete curbs to build this up instead of RR ties.  There are several types of decorative block for landscaping which can be erected and installed quite solidly without concrete.

If you have just the landscaping ties, you could replace with the proper materials and get 30-40 years, if it's properly installed and in that case you would not need any termite control treatments.

Nice to hear from you.  Get back to me if you have more questions.


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