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Railway Sleeper Grades Explained

Railway sleeper grades are the quality gradings of the sturdy wooden beams traditionally used to support train tracks called railway sleepers. Their robust construction and weather-resistant qualities make them a fantastic resource for creative DIY enthusiasts.  

By repurposing railway sleepers, you can transform them into rustic, stylish elements for your home such as garden edges, furniture pieces or even unique shelving, adding a touch of timeless charm to your interior and outdoor spaces.  

The sleeper's grade – ranging from AAA to C - will determine the degree of cracking and imperfections as well as the squareness of the edges. Grading a railway sleeper is not an exact science as many factors can contribute to this such as hardwood or softwood and rate of deterioration.  

AAA Grade

Very high quality with square edges and minimal natural deterioration/cracking. AAA grade sleepers will have 4 ‘good sides’ that appear mainly square. They will have minimal cracking or warping. Best for stacking together to create garden bed walls or small landscape structures like retaining walls. 

AA Grade

Good quality with mainly square edges and slight natural deterioration/cracking. AA grade railway sleepers will have 3-4 sides that are considered square. They may have a small amount of cracking. Suitable to be stacked for garden bed walls or furniture like outdoor tables and benches.  

A Grade

Fair quality with some edges that are square and signs of natural deterioration and cracking/warping. A grade railway sleepers will have 2-3 good sides that are mostly square along the edge. Suitable for garden edges, steps, paths or furniture like outdoor tables and benches.  

B Grade

Average quality where all 4 corners are intact but not square. There may be some structural damage and cracking/deterioration will be evident. Suitable for applications where the structural integrity of the sleeper will not be needed like garden edges and pathways or car parking posts. 

C Grade

Low quality with the same characteristics as B Grade; however, may show signs of rot and deterioration on the underside as well as serious damage to most sides. Suitable to edge driveways or support small portable buildings or shipping containers.