When constructing a shed, the base can often make up a large part of the overall costs.

Putting down a sturdy base can not only be expensive, but if it’s not fit for purpose, your shed will be less stable and will begin to rot a lot sooner.

It can often be well worth looking around for some heavy-duty, reusable materials to help build a shed with some staying power.

Can I Use Railway Sleepers For A Shed Base?

Railway sleepers for a shed base

Railway sleepers are very effective to use as a shed base as long as they have recently been treated and they are laid down level on gravel, or some other system that allows water to drain away from the base of your shed.

Actually, railway sleepers provide great airflow and can be used as a base for all sorts of structures.

If you plan to use them as the base for your shed, there are a few things you should know first.

Related: Is It Cheaper To Buy Or Build A Shed?

How To Use Railway Sleepers For Your Shed Base?

While it’s safe and very cost-effective to use sleepers for a shed base, there are a few things you should do to get the most out of them.

Plan For The Wind

Once you have your general location picked out, it’s important to try to determine the most common direction of the prevailing winds.

Once you know which direction the wind usually blows from, you should set your shed up so the back faces the wind.

This will reduce the risk of heavy winds grabbing a hold of your shed and lifting it.

Prepare The Ground

First, you’ll need to clear out the area where your shed base will sit and get it nice and level.

Remove all grass, roots and debris.

Dig out a rectangle a few inches below the surface of the grass where your shed will sit and level it.

Next you can dig out three trenches, pack them in tightly with gravel and level them.

The railway sleepers will sit on top of these gravel trenches, within the rectangle bed that you dug out and leveled.

Once you’ve laid down and leveled the sleepers on top of the gravel trenches, you can lay down a plastic vapor barrier in between the sleepers and fill in the area with gravel so that just the sleepers are sticking up and about level with the rest of the surface of your yard.

The system will ensure that no moisture will build up around the base of your shed and cause premature rotting.

Secure Your Shed

Wind is going to be one of the biggest enemies of your shed.

To better prepare your shed for those windy days you may want to fix some high-quality lag bolts with strong hooks to the sleepers in order to latch the shed down.

If wind is a major concern and you don’t have a concrete base to anchor your shed to you could dig a hole and fill it with concrete for a more secure point to anchor to.

What Are The Pros Of Using Railway Sleepers As A Base?

They Allow Airflow And Prevent Rot

One of the reasons people like to use railway sleepers as a base for their shed is because they allow very good airflow.

This is very helpful in the summertime and has prevented many shed floors from rotting.

They Are Easy To Set Up

Railway sleepers are very easy to set up, they can be placed on pallets, gravel, or on concrete blocks.

Cons Of Using Railway Sleepers As A Shed Base?


One of the things you must be careful about when using railway sleepers is that they could have creosote on them.

Not only is this substance poisonous, but it also has a very potent smell to it.

Anytime it’s hot outside, there’s a chance that the building could smell like creosote.

As long as you are only using the railway sleepers as a base, there shouldn’t be an issue.

However, it’s important that you make sure to install a heavy plastic barrier between the base and the floor.

This barrier will prevent any contamination that may affect the rest of your shed.

It’s important to know that only old railway sleepers came into contact with creosote.

Modern sleepers are less likely to have been in contact with the harsh chemical.

Can You Lay Railway Sleepers On Soil?

You can lay railway sleepers directly onto soil and they should bed in and steady themselves over time.

But, it is better to place them on gravel or lift them up off the surface of the soil using something like concrete blocks.

This will stop water building up around the bottom of the sleepers and help to reduce the risk of rot and mold setting in.

Gravel also makes it easier to maneuver the sleepers and get them level.

Final Thoughts

Railway sleepers are very effective to use as a shed base.

They are easy to install, sturdy, provide excellent airflow, and will last for years as your shed’s base.