Mailbag- Railroad vs. Landscape Ties

We received an email from Griffin, who writes with a question on the difference between railroad and landscape Ties:

In many projects it seems you use ‘landscape ties’. Are these the same as railroad ties or are they the pressure treated version of railroad ties? The reason I ask is that I don’t like the look or pressure treated wood but am concerned about leaking railroad ties.

A: Landscape ties are nothing more than pressure treated Douglas Fir, typically 6×8. There are a few of different methods for pressure treating- with either a greenish, reddish, or blackish tint (without getting into the different types of chemical treatments used- check with your local lumber yard for the type of pressure treatment that is best for a particular application). Railroad ties, strictly speaking are black in color and coated with Creosote and a number of other chemicals that you really wouldn’t want to use in a residential setting. I hope this explains the difference and our nomenclature.