How To Build A Sand Pit Using New Railway Sleepers

Published: 11th November 2011
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First things first; you'll have to decide where you'd like to place your new sand pit. Start by measuring out your desired areas. Ideally this will be away from any over hanging trees which could potentially will drop leaves into the sand. An important thing to bear in mind when placing the sand pit is that it should be visible from indoors, or a nearby patio. This ensures that the kids can still be easily seen while playing from while you relax outdoors.

Preparing the Ground:

Once you've settled on the size and location of your new sand pit, the next task is to you will need to prepare the ground. It's important to ensure that the sleeper sand pit sits completely flat on the ground, and doesn't run downhill or at an angle.

Start by removing any turf then rake and level the ground where you intend to place the sand pit. If you already have an existing patio or outside deck there should be no reason why you can't be built directly onto this. As long as the area or structure can safely bear the weight of the railway sleepers, the sand and, of course, your children, then it should be fine to use.

List of Material:

If you're happy that the ground has been adequately prepared; you'll next need to purchase the materials for building the pit. These are:

- Untreated hardwood railway sleepers or untreated softwood railway sleepers
- Timberlok screws/sleeper fixing brackets
- Decking Screws
- Play sand

You'll also need to buy a fabric membrane. This stops weeds and other pest plants from growing through the sandpit from underneath, but allows rain water to easily drain out. The child-friendly bags of sand you'll need to fill the bit are available online or through high street kid's stores.

Measuring and cutting railway sleepers:

Measure and cut your railway sleepers to the required size for your sand pit. They can be cut using a circular saw, handsaw or even a chainsaw if you feel confident using this type of machinery. Once cut to size, lay the sleepers roughly around the perimeter of the planned sandpit area. Railway sleepers, even cut ones, are extremely heavy and it's advisable to have someone help you move them.

Once you're happy with the layout fix them together using the railway sleeper screws, Timberlok fixings, or metal brackets and decking screws. Depending on the size and depth of sandpit required, the railway sleepers can be placed on edge or with laid flat in two layers, with staged joints in a brick bond pattern. Screwing them together will ensure that the structure is firm enough for children to play inside without the sides moving. If you want to paint the sleepers, now is the best time to do this and to leave them to dry before you place the membrane inside.

Measure the weed suppressing membrane to fit within the sandpit frame and up the inside edges to contain the sand, and then cut to size. If multiple lengths of membrane are required, make sure their edges overlap by at least 20cm to prevent weeds from getting through. Once the membrane is in place you will need to attach it to your sand pit to stop it from moving about when the children are jumping in out. This can be achieved using a staple gun and it can be useful to fill the sandpit before stapling, as the sand will naturally push the membrane to the very edges of the railway sleeper edges.

Finishing the sandpit:

When you are happy that the membrane is fitted correctly, you are now ready to add the rest of the play sand and place them in the sand pit. You can fill the sand pit with as much or as little sand as you like but a depth of at least three inches (75mm) across the base will prevent contact with the underlying ground. To ensure that your sand pit doesn't get any unwanted visitors or debris blown into it, you can make a lid by using a fabric waterproof cover or building with timber, for example shiplap with an edging frame to keep it in place. Once complete, just add buckets and spades and let your children enjoy.

Josh Whiten writes for TimberClick - one of the UK's leading suppliers of garden decking, railway sleepers, garden fencing and a wide variety of timber. TimberClick is proud to offer some of the best trade and retail prices available in the UK. For more information please visit

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