Asked on Aug 08, 2017

Can railroad ties be painted successfully?

I don't have enough money to replace the ties. So I was wondering if they could be painted by an oil-based paint? They are so old school and I would love to use those stack-able bricks with the pattern on the front. But they are way too expensive for m

  10 answers
  • Rose Broadway Rose Broadway on Aug 08, 2017

    They are soaked in creosote and aren't successfully painted. That black, oily stuff always seeps to the surface.

  • C. D. Scallan C. D. Scallan on Aug 08, 2017

    If they are primed properly , I'm sure you can use an outdoor paint on them .

  • 2dogal 2dogal on Aug 08, 2017

    I wouldn't do it. They will end up being a pain to keep painted - if they will let paint adhere even with priming as they are soaked in creosote. Some things look better left natural. And sometimes there's a reason that you don't see painted railroad ties.

  • Pandalana Williams Pandalana Williams on Aug 08, 2017

    Be careful with this; as the old ones are treated with arsnic. You do not want to put them anywhere near anything you would grow to eat. Why would you want to paint them, they look nice not painted. You are better with the safer new one though.

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Aug 08, 2017

    are they the real railroad ties or the general ones used as retaining walls?

  • Ana Natyshak Ana Natyshak on Aug 08, 2017

    Go to your local recycle centre and pick uo a large pail of combination paints....nice colours....

  • Sandi Blair Sandi Blair on Aug 09, 2017

    Not a good idea. It would take tons of paint and probably end up looking worse than the original. Check end of season sales for landscape blocks. We found a great deal at Home depot last year.

  • David Harris David Harris on Jun 21, 2019

    The purists aren't going to like this, but here's how to do it.

    creasote is toxic, so coat it with another toxic substance, lol.

    Get some burnt motor oil and mop it on all sides. You can thin it with diesel fuel or kerosene if you wish. You'll have to do this about once a year, but it will blacken and preserve your posts.

  • James Laug James Laug on Sep 05, 2021

    I have had a railroad tie retaining wall for 35 years. It was built with used ties. By this time I see very little of the creosote oozing out. Over the years I have probably painted it 6 or 7 times with the only purpose to give it a fresher, uniform black look. I power wash and let dry prior to painting. I have used several products including foundation coating, and asphalt sealer. I have used both water base and oil base products and don't find oil lasts and longer. I think I like asphalt sealer the best. I use a large wallpaper paste brush to slop it on heavy. I generally get 4 to 6 years before I add another coat. I also use asphalt crack repair product to smooth irregularities and fill areas of decay. It improves the appearance and I think extends the life.

  • Marianne Baldwin Marianne Baldwin on Jun 26, 2022

    I used James Lang suggestion and painted w asphalt sealer/diesel great finish just a bit too black but will probably tone down a bit thanks James great advice- it’s quite a job but worth it. Thank you for opportunity to share!