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Can You Paint Railroad Ties? (All You Need to Know)

Whether designing the new landscape or renewing the stairs, you might think of using railroad ties. They are great for getting a reliable and outstanding design within a limited budget. You may buy the 30 years old railroad ties and want to fix them.

But can you paint them? Let’s find out.

Can you paint railroad ties?

You can paint railroad ties with a paintbrush and wood paint. Mostly, the railroad ties come with wood. If you want to paint it, you have to use wood paint over the railroad ties. You can either use latex paint or oil-based paint. Both will give you a durable and excellent finish.

But the latex paint will be a wise choice if you use the railroad ties inside your home. The latex paint can give you a great finish over the 30+ years old wood ties. They may not be suitable for oil-based paint since they are very old and not even.

In most cases, you will find uneven ties from the buyers. Then, it would be not easy to use the oil-based paint without using the primer. Moreover, spray paint could be another option for your railroad ties.

If you have old ties and don’t know how to use them properly, the process will be tiresome. You need to remove the very old part of the ties and then use the primer coat. Once the wood is dried, you can even paint over it.

Spray paint:

Painting railroad ties would be much easier than before. You need to use the spray paint can to do it quickly and use it soon. When you have fresh and even not damaged ties, you can buy the spray can and paint over the ties quickly.

It will give you an excellent finish within a while. It’s easier than manual painting and will save a lot of time and effort. You must buy a durable and high-quality spray can to get the best finish on the railroad ties.

Can you paint creosote railroad ties?

You can paint creosote railroad ties. But you will require specialized base paint, several coats of sealer primer, and possibly even several coats of paint to finish the task. This will ensure that the project is completed to the highest standard.

However, the procedure used to cover up creosote can also cover up stains or discoloration caused by petroleum-based products in other home areas.

Creosote is a wood preservative. Pesticides with creosote as an active ingredient protect outdoor wood.

Creosote is prohibited for residential use. They have the potential to be damaging people and plants around. Make certain that you are aware of the risks of using creosote railroad ties in your landscaping.

Can old railroad ties be stained?

Old railroad ties can be stained prior to employing wooden railroad ties in your project; it is good to stain them so that the finish will seal the wood and preserve it from the environment.

Long, wooden cross ties are used to build railroad tracks. Railroad ties are made of wood.

When people live in homes, these beams are often used for retaining walls and framing gardens. Railroad ties can rot and split over time, no matter how used.

The trouble with staining or painting is that they need to be maintained regularly every few years.

If these are genuine reused railroad ties, exercise with caution because they would have been treated with creosote. Paint or stain will most likely not attach to them due to their porous nature.

3 reasons why you can paint railroad ties

If you ask why you can paint on railroad ties, you will find three reasons. Wood surface, suitable & available paint and the primer are core reasons behind it. But the main reason is the wood surface. You can paint all the wood surfaces with wood paint or wood primer.

It’s time to explore them and get to know the reasons better.

Wood Surface:

Most of the railroad ties are made with wood. They are in high-quality and good shape. Therefore, it’s easier to paint over the wood surface than metal or anything else.

The wood surface is the main reason why you can paint railroad ties. You can modify it and give it the best finish with suitable spray paint.

Easy to Paint:

You can paint over the ties with the right paint. You will find both the latex and oil-based paint on the railroad ties. They have the ingredients that will stick to the ties and give you the best shining finish.

The latex paint would be your best choice. It will stick to the wood surface and give you an outstanding result within a while. If you have too old ties, you must use latex paint to make them new. 

Using Primer:

If your railroad ties are too old and you can’t get the desired finishing from the paint, you can use the wood primer. Sometimes, the wood primer can solve your issues dramatically. If you have uneven ties, applying the primer would be a must.

Only then the ties will be ready to apply the paint. So, primer is the third reason you can paint over the railroad ties.

What paint are railroad ties sprayed with?

Three paints are railroad ties sprayed with, namely latex, oil, and spray paint. Let’s explore them.

Latex Paint:

You can use the latex paint on the railroad ties. It’s one of the best competitive paints you will ever find for railroad ties. You can buy the premium quality latex paint and paint on the railroad ties.

Before painting, you have to clean the railroad ties and apply the primer if the ties are too old and uneven. Then, it will be a perfect surface for latex paint.

Oil-Based Paint:

You can use oil-based paint on the railroad ties. They also have the sticky ingredients to work on all the surfaces. If you want to use railroad ties outside the home, oil-based paints or synthetic paint might be good.

Spray paint Can:

You can also spray paint on your railroad ties. They also come with high-quality material and can be used on different surfaces. Also, spray paint will be a good choice if you want to quickly paint on the railroad ties.

How to paint railroad ties?

Painting the railroad ties would be much appreciated. You can use both the latex paint and the oil-based paint on the railroad ties.

Clean the Ties & Apply Primer:

You must clean the railroad ties before applying the primer or paint over them. Cleaning means removing the dirt and debris from the surface deeply. Only then you can use the primer.

Here the primer will be a great relief to make the ties usable and prepare for the paint. You need to find the perfect primer that can cover the entire railroad ties.

Prepare the Paint:

You need to prepare the paint and the ties. Both need to be perfect; otherwise, it will be a mess, or the finishing will be messy. You need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and prepare the paint accordingly.

Apply the Paint:

Once the railroad ties and the paint is ready, you can apply the paint over them. Then, apply the paint with a roller or a paintbrush. You have to cover the entire surface with the paint and paint the corners properly.

Once you finish applying, you must wait for several hours to dry the ties. Maybe it will take several hours if you use the latex paint. On the other hand, spray paint might be a good choice if you want to dry the railroad ties quickly.

How do you restore old railroad ties?

To restore old railroad ties, you should assess the damage and determine the size and the depth of any holes or slits of any deteriorating railroad ties. Mend the rift. Sand or grind off any surface splintering on the tie.

Moreover, you must sand or saw off any rot. If the tie has holes, fill them using the spike-hole filler compound designed for railroad ties. You need to protect the railroad tie with a transparent compound.

The compound acts as a sealant between the elements and the railroad tie. Consider using an outdoor coating on wood. Alternatively, choose ecologically friendly paint made for outdoor use.

Final Thoughts

You can paint railroad ties with latex paint or oil-based paint. They both are suitable forties. The spray paint could be another great way to paint your old wood ties within a while. Before that, you can apply the wood primer and prepare the surface. Then, the paint will stick to the ties.