Build a Tie Wall
Finding suitable railroad ties for my tie wall was easy once I found the right used railroad tie supplier. I searched all the local landscaping companies with no luck. The landscaping companies that did sell railroad ties only stocked the worst of quality. I wanted to build a tie wall that would be both functional and good looking.
After searching the net and many phone calls I was able to narrow down my search to A & K Railroad company. A & K stocks a huge selection used of railroad ties to choose from. The price per tie goes up with the quality, obviously.
At the time I chose a medium quality railraod tie. The quality was good and the price was fair to keep my retaining tie wall project cost at a minimum.
For my situation, I needed to build a retaining tie wall for the back end of a new driveway I was installing. The ground sloped down from the street area requiring a tie wall to keep the driveway level.
As you can see, I had to add a lot of fill concrete to keep the parking area level.
There are many other uses for tie walls such as decorative landscaping, garden beds and stair steppping a sloping hill in your backyard. For whatever you need to build a tie wall, tie walls are all basically built the same.
- See my Tie Wall Construction Notes for more details.
- Tie dimensions 6" X 8" X 8'.
- I used a string line to mark the general tie wall dimensions.
- Use string line and a line level to find your highest tie wall point .
- Start your tie wall from the lowest point and work your way out.
- Instead of setting ties directly even on top of each other, stagger the next row toward the fill about 1 inch.
- I used 3/8" (DIA) X 12" (LONG) galvanized nails to secure each tie row to the underlying tie row.
Tie wall construction is relatively simple. The key here is keep it level!
Using a string line and line level, I marked out the dimensions for my retaining tie wall. Use some stakes to hold the string line and to mark out the dimensions. With the line level I levelled the string at all runs of the tie wall and was able to find the lowest point by measuring from the string to the ground. In my case it was at the back corner of the tie wall. The lowest point is where I started laying the railroad ties.
Once I had the first row of railroad ties set in place I simply laid a second row over the top of the first. Each additional row of ties was set back toward the fill side about one inch, as if to lean the tie wall toward the fill side. For strength, I staggered the seams by overlapping any butt joint of two ties.
Before adding the third row of ties I used a power drill with a 5/16 bit to drill pilot holes for the 3/8" X 12" galvanized nails. The nails were used to secure each row of railroad ties to the row below. Using a sledge hammer, I generally set 3 nails per railroad tie.