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Building a Sand Pit using Railway Sleepers

Building a Sand Pit using Railway Sleepers


Building a sandpit using railway sleepers is probably one of the easiest tasks to undertake in your garden and will provide your children with hours of fun. This project shouldn’t take you any longer than a day to complete and can be made to any specific shape or size you require.

Sandpit placement

Firstly you will need to decide where you want to place your sand pit and measure out the area. Ideally this should be away from over hanging trees that will drop leaves into the sand and somewhere that can be seen from indoors or nearby patio / decking spaces. This ensures that the kids can be easily seen while playing from the house or a place you can spend time, but still keep them in view.

Ground preparation

Once you have decided on the size of the sand pit you will need to prepare the ground to ensure that the sleeper sand pit will sit completely flat on the ground. Start by removing any turf then rake and level the ground for the sand pit to be placed on top. If you already have a prepared patio or decking area, there’s no reason why a sand pit can’t be built directly onto this, as long as it can bear the weight of the sleepers, sand and children when in use.

Sandpit materials list

Once you are happy that the ground is prepared, you’ll need to purchase the materials for building. These are:

  • Hardwood railway sleepers or softwood railway sleepers (untreated)
  • Timberlok screws / fixing brackets and decking screws
  • Play sand
  • Bucket and spade

You will also need to buy a fabric membrane to stop weeds growing through the sandpit from underneath and allow water to drain out if it rains. The final things to buy are the many bags of children’s play sand that you will need and buckets and spades for the children to play with.

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 railway sleeper / Timberlok screws 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.