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Question DetailsAsked on 1/30/2016

Railroad tie wall installers

Move about 14 railroad ties about 5' and create a new wall

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2 Answers



This is Nick in Member Care. I'm happy to help!

I've found some highly rated landscapers from the List:

Bright Side
9802 Chestnut Ridge Rd
Heiskell, TN 37754
(865) 938-2863

Landscape Outfitters
Knoxville, TN 37938
(865) 922-4733

Andersonville, TN 37705
(865) 740-5189

No matter who you choose, I hope the work goes well and you take the time to leave a review.

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Answered 4 years ago by Member Services


As AL stated, Landscapers are probably the most common type of contractor to do this - with many Excavation companies also into that type of work.

Bear in mind any local Planning and Zoning regs requiring permit/review (commonly if located within 5 feet of a property line), and note that if supporting a structure or road or more than from 3-6 feet tall commonly, depending on locale, you will likely need a building permit, which will almost certainly require a design by a Structural or Civil Engineer.

If a stair-stepped or terraced wall built in segments that individually are not exceeding the height limit where a permit is required, some areas allow that without a permit as long as the overall slope does not exceed 1V:2H or 1V:2H (vertical to horizontal) - so 30 or 45 degree slope overall - others require a permit if the TOTAL height from top of backfill on the top terrace to toe of bottom of wall exceeds the height limit.

Also, many jurisdictions require a building permit if removing or placing more than a certain amount of material - typically in the 20 to 100CY range.

Can be a hassle - but you do NOT want to be in the situation I have seen all too often, of a homeowner doing a retaining wall or excavation/fill project without a permit, and then being told by the city or county that they have to remove it because of lack of structural design or because it violate one or another building or zoning regulation or code.

A couple of thoughts on the wall - timber retaining walls last a lot longer if you do several things -

1) place free-draining compacted crushed rock directly behind and under them, with free drainage to open surface for the fill, so the back side and bottom of the wall do not stay wet - prolongs the life of the ties a lot because while the creosote protects the outside pretty well it generally does not penetrate to the center, so if the wood stays wet it starts rotting from the inside out - I have torn out ties (and other treated woods) that were nothing but a creosote-glued hollow wood shell because of interior rot or insect damage. The free draining compacted fill also reduces the risk of frost heave and pushing the wall forward - generally for walls over about 3 feet high the fill behind the wall within a 45 degree wedge of soil should be free-draining fill, not clayey or topsoil or organic in nature.

2) while new application of creosote is generally prohibited in many states, for areas of the timbers that are not going to be exposed (so the sticky tar is not a problem), asphalt based bitumastic (used for foundation waterproofing) works pretty well as an alternative for recoating to prolong their life. I have even seen (on larger jobs) the finished but not yet backfilled wall sprayed with bitumastic or hot asphalt (NOT water based) driveway sealer to provide a waterproof backing.

3) if in an area with wood invasive insects (termites, carpenter ants, post borers, yellow jackets, etc) I recommend treating the hidden timber surfaces and backfill with diatomaceous earth and powdered insecticide or similar permanent insect preventatives.

4) be sure to tie the timbers together firmly - I use minimum 1/2 inch (1 inch if over 3-4 feet high) rebar every 3 feet or so, driven through drilled holes and well into the ground - and be sure to throroughly treat the holes as they open up the interior of the wood to damage. I prefer filling the holes with enough bitumastic that when you drive the rebar in it pressurizes and squeezes the bitumastic throughout the holes and into the spaces between the ties.

5) regardless of how careful you are in building it, almost all retaining walls built of ties will tilt forward a bit - plus a truly vertical retaining wall gives the optical illusion that it is leaning forward - so I recommend that retaining walls be built so they lay back on a 1:10 slope (10%) to overcome that, and so even if they tilt forward a bit they still are not forward of vertical. An alternative some use is stepping the ties back a quarter to a third of the tie width every tier.

6) key-in is critical - generally, the bottom ties should be either structurally anchored into the ground with earth anchors (not jsut rebar), or be embedded in the about 1/3 tie depth for walls not over 3 feet high, or at least 1/2 tie depth for higher walls, to prevent toe kickout.

7) don't forget that all cuts should also be retreated. In areas where creosote repair liquid is illegal, you can use copper napthenate or napthelate solution to soak the end of the timbers where cut (repair solution for treated deck timers, from Cupreanol and others), then after that is thoroughly dry, coat the surface with tar or bitumastic. There are also products like asphaltic fence coating that can be used for areas where people might sit on it or brush against it, so a tar is not suitable - like following -

8) bear in mind the vasst majority of your project cost will be labor, so if the ties are iffy (and putting in new ties is legal in your area - not so in places like California), go to the small added expense of replacing the deteriorating ones.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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