Railroad ties play an important role in providing support for railroad tracks.
Eventually, they become too worn for use on the railroad, but many homeowners find a use for them.
They’re ideal for marking property lines, becoming planters, or even retaining earth.
If you’re thinking of buying some railroad ties, then you may wonder how heavy they are to move around.
Here’s what you need to know about the weight of railroad ties.
How Much Does a Railroad Tie Weigh?
The average railroad tie weighs around 200 pounds.
That said, they can also weigh as little as 100 pounds and as much as 300 pounds.
Considering its weight, it’s a good idea to know how much your car or truck can carry before it becomes overloaded.
Keep in mind, too, that each railroad tie is going to add another 200 pounds, at least.
Overloading your car or truck can cause serious damage to its engine.
There are a few factors that can make the weight of a railroad tie fluctuate.
Here are some of those factors.
The size of the railroad tie determines how much it’s going to weigh.
You can find railroad ties as small as six feet in length and as long as eight or nine feet.
Certain companies can also trim the railroad tie to make them even shorter.
The bigger the tie is, the heavier it’s going to be.
That’s simply because it has more materials.
Another big part of the size is the thickness of the railroad tie.
You can have a tie that’s only four feet in length, but if it’s incredibly thick, then it’s still likely to be very heavy.
The thicker a tie is, the heavier it’s going to be.
That’s because the tie still has a lot of materials making up its composition even if it’s short.
It’s all contained in the thickness of the tie.
If you plan on hauling a lot of ties, then you should consider if it’s possible to trim them down.
As long as it doesn’t make your project impossible to complete, smaller railroad ties are easier to carry because they weigh less.
Another big factor that can make a railroad tie weigh more or less is its composition.
Traditionally, railroad ties used wood in their construction.
Many prefer wooden railroad ties to this day because they’re cheap to make and ideal for rustic interior or exterior decorating.
There are two main types of wood used in creating railroad ties.
The most common is hardwood because it’s more durable and able to withstand the abuse given to it by passing trains.
The other type is softwood.
Softwood is more common and thus cheaper to make.
However, softwood doesn’t hold up as well against the abuse of train travel.
As such, companies have to often replace them.
Softwood is lighter than hardwood.
As such, ties made of softwood are going to be lighter than those made of hardwood.
A new type of railroad tie that’s common in Europe and Asia is concrete ties or sleepers.
They use pre-stressed concrete filled with steel rods to form stable and durable ties.
Since it uses concrete and steel, you can bet that these types of ties are going to be some of the heaviest on the market.
The average weight of a concrete railroad tie is around 800 pounds.
Finally, some companies have started using plastic or composite ties.
These are also durable with the added benefit of being recyclable.
Ties made with either of these materials tend to be cheaper than concrete but vary in weight compared to wooden ties.
Depending on the material of the tie, you could have extremely heavy ties or decently light ties.
A final factor that influences the weight of a railroad tie is its age.
A brand new railroad tie is quite heavy since it hasn’t degraded at all.
Older ties, on the other hand, tend to weigh a little less.
That’s because time and wear have made it lose some of its composition and strength.
Dry rot, in particular, can make a railroad tie a lot lighter since it’s basically hollowing it out.
The same goes for ties that have infestations of termites or other pests.
The bugs have slowly started to eat away at the wood, which makes it lighter.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the tie’s ability to resist water also impacts its weight.
As ties become older, their wood treatments also fade.
This makes them less resistant to water.
As a result, they absorb water instead.
It can take some time to dry out.
If you try to pick up an old railroad tie after it’s just rained, you’re not only picking up heavy wood, but you’re also picking up all the water it soaked into itself.
Age plays a major role in determining how heavy the railroad tie is actually going to be.
Can You Lift A Railroad Tie On Your Own?
Considering that the average weight of a single railroad tie is 200 pounds, it can be difficult to carry one on your own.
At best, you can drag it along the ground to its destination.
However, because of its size and weight, carrying a railroad tie on your own is extremely difficult.
Since it’s possible to injure yourself by carrying extremely heavy objects, it’s a better idea to have someone help you carry a railroad tie.
The best method is for one person to be on each end of the tie and carry it between the two of you.
If you don’t have another person around, then the next best option is to rent a forklift.
A forklift can pick up and carry the railroad tie wherever you need it.
Keep in mind that forklifts come with weight restrictions.
You’ll need to rent one that can lift at least 300 pounds.
Besides a forklift, there are also other various lifting machines that you can rent to carry the railroad tie where you need it.
At the very least, you should have someone around to help since carrying it on your own is difficult and dangerous for your body.
How Much Does A Used Railroad Tie Weigh?
While some companies allow you to buy new railroad ties, you may be looking for something that’s more distressed.
Used railroad ties are also generally cheaper than new ones.
If you’re in the market for used railroad ties, then you may wonder if they weigh any less than new ones.
In most cases, yes, a used railroad tie will weigh less than a new one.
While a new railroad tie can weigh anywhere from 200 to 300 pounds, a used one will weigh anywhere from 100 to 200 pounds.
It mostly has to do with its age and condition.
If the tie is particularly old, then it will likely be far lighter than a new railroad tie.
That’s because time has worn it down and it has likely seen its share of pest infestation and dry rot remove some of the wood.
As long as you don’t try to pick up the tie after it’s rained, you’ll usually find that used railroad ties weigh less than new ones.
How Much Does A Railroad Tie Cost?
If you have your crew ready to lift some railroad ties, then you may wonder how much a few ties will cost.
That largely depends on who’s selling them.
The average price of a used railroad tie is between $18 and $40.
If you want a brand new one, then you can expect to pay far more than that.
The price of ties depends on a few things.
Here are some of the factors that can influence the price of a railroad tie.
1. New Versus Used
One of the biggest factors that influence the price of a railroad tie is whether it’s new or used.
New railroad ties are going to cost more because they have yet to see use.
Their condition is perfect and they’re set to last for a long time.
Those who buy new railroad ties tend to want to make planters or property borders that look nice rather than distressed.
You’ll get several years out of new railroad ties before they start to degrade.
Used railroad ties are cheaper because they’re not perfect.
Many of them tend to have split ends and some also have damage from where the plate was rubbing against the wood.
Some may even have signs of dry rot or pest infestation.
Because they don’t look great and they’re not ideal for structural support, they tend to be cheaper.
They won’t last as long as new railroad ties, so they’re given a discounted price.
There are also only a few uses for used railroad ties.
They’re primarily good for decoration or use in planters or stairs.
Since they have limited uses, sellers are a bit more eager to sell what they can to those who want to take them off of their hands.
That helps drive down the price.
The age of the railroad tie influences its price.
The condition is another factor that influences the price of a railroad tie.
For example, even a brand new railroad tie might come out with some problems.
The pressure treatment may not have been successful, and as such, it has an infestation of termites within it.
Even used railroad ties can sometimes come out of the ground looking almost new.
New railroad ties in perfect condition are going to have the highest price on the market.
New railroad ties that have problems are likely still going to be more expensive than used railroad ties, but they’ll also be cheaper than perfect and new railroad ties.
Used railroad ties are where you’re going to see the most fluctuation in price.
Some lumber companies put them all at flat fees.
This can be helpful since it allows you to pick the best wooden railroad ties at a cheap price.
However, other sellers will sell based on the condition.
That means if a used tie is in great condition, then it’s probably going to have a higher price tag than one that’s in poor condition.
Good and perfect conditions are more expensive because they last longer and look better.
There’s more demand for these types of conditions, and so the price for them increases.
There’s less demand for ties that won’t last more than a few years.
As such, the sellers offer them at a cheap price to encourage people to buy them and clear their inventory.
The condition of railroad ties influences their prices.
While wooden railroad ties are the most popular in America, they aren’t the only material on the market.
Wooden railroad ties tend to be the cheapest since they’re cheap to make.
Even within the wooden ties, though, there are some variations.
Softwood railroad ties are going to be cheaper because softwood is cheap.
Hardwood railroad ties are going to be more expensive because hardwood is expensive.
If a material is expensive to use, then the product is also going to be expensive.
Another popular material, at least in Europe and Asia, is pre-stressed concrete.
Concrete is a lot more expensive than wood because it requires more manufacturing.
Concrete ties are basically pure slabs of concrete over steel rods.
Since manufacturers use a lot of concrete in the production of the ties, the cost of buying them is also more expensive.
It isn’t always possible to find used concrete ties since they’re either repurposed for use in car parking lots or too damaged for use.
However, you can expect to pay a pretty expensive price if you want to use them.
Finally, you might find plastic or composite ties on the market.
These also vary in price depending on the type of plastic or composite used.
Both undergo more manufacturing steps than wooden ties.
Because of that, they tend to be more expensive than wooden railroad ties.
However, they also tend to be cheaper than concrete ties because the materials are cheaper than concrete.
The only big difference is the composite tie.
If the composite uses a particularly expensive material, then these ties may actually be more expensive concrete.
Depending on the type of material you want for your railroad tie, you’ll find yourself paying different prices for each.
As is the case with most things, the bigger something is, the more it’s going to cost.
That is true for railroad ties, too.
Most railroad ties come in similar lengths since they’re standardized for use on the railroad.
However, some companies also cut them to make them smaller.
Others might trim them down to make them less thick.
In either case, if you have a smaller railroad tie, then you can expect a cheaper price.
That’s because there’s less material to drive up the cost.
Bigger railroad ties cost more since they used more materials in their construction.
Thickness also plays a factor.
The thicker a tie is, the more expensive it’s going to be since it used a lot of materials.
Finally, if you hire a company to cut your railroad ties into custom sizes, then you might also face slightly increased prices.
That’s because you’re having the company pay special attention to your order rather than just cutting the ties down to their standard sizes.
That might mean that they have to recalibrate their machines or have an expert come in to do the cuts for you.
Since it’s going to cost them time and money to do the custom cuts, you can expect that they’re going to get that money back by charging you extra for the service.
Railroad ties can be cheaper or more expensive depending on their size.
Railroad ties are extremely heavy, and you shouldn’t try to carry one on your own.
The different materials used in a tie’s construction, size, and condition can all affect its weight.
These variables can also affect the railroad tie’s cost, too.