Assuming that you are talking about timber sleepers (ties) the hazards that
I would look out for are uneven surfaces that could lead to people tripping
on the stairs or pollution due to chemical preservative treatment. You need
to know the provenance and condition of the material before you decide.
As for the setting you have only said that it is commercial which doesn't
give much to go on. Is it indoors or outdoors? How long are the stairs?
Will you be doing the construction yourself? Will there be a
self-supporting stair and ballustrade or will they be laid on the ground?
You have a garden of edibles on a slope so large it needs stairs, and
it's at a commercial property? Okay, I've seen that. Rosemary bushes
around large apartment buildings in southern California, right?
The creosote is not good for the soil but you're in a semi-arid region
so there won't be all that much leaching. Railroad ties work okay in
Because of the chemical treatment I would rather use gardening timbers.
They make for smaller steps up the slope but they aren't harmful to the
soil unless you get the green arsenic treated ones.
You do NOT want them for use by the regular tenants. Just for the
gardening staff. Too much of a trip hazard.
I used to think railroad ties were great. Until I tried to use them as
borders. They work fine, then they rot, then moles move in. And ants .
Then they suck digging them up. And getting rid of the moles. A decade
later I find that they leech preservative too. So I don't want them around
Now if you're trying to do some type of rough cut style stairs with new
ties. Feng Shwei style or something. Maybe.
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