Our front porch roof is being supported by two railroad ties. About 20 years ago one started to rot at the bottom and needed to be changed, so my husband just went up to the neighborhood lumberyard and picked up a new one.
Now the other one is rotting and I have been trying to find a replacement and they don't seem to be so easy to find anymore. So far all we have found are ones that are not in good enough shape to use, but I have been given a suggestion of a place they might have them and am hopeful.
Meanwhile, creosote is supposed to be really bad; also in case I can't find a railroad tie that will work and have to get a substitute of some kind, I wonder if the substitute would be as long lasting as the railroad ties with creosote have been. They don't go into the ground but rest on our concrete porch, which gets wet with rainwater a lot.
There are still treated wood products available. It is true there were some big changes in what chemicals could be used, but you can still get treated lumber for outdoor projects. Bear in mind no wood will last forever when it is exposed to constant ground contact. If these are just upright posts, treated wood would not be necessary, just paint will provide protection. If these are supporting the porch floor, then what about concrete piers or blocks? I am having a hard time understanding why you would want to use creosoted railroad ties for the pillars that support the porch roof.
Well, it's because they were that way when we moved in and my husband changed one to match the other, now that the other is rotting I would like to change it to match the one. I have uploaded a couple pictures to Imageshack for you to see:
The house needs painting badly also, but that's next.
By the way, the picture makes it look like the post is leaning, but that was just the way my son was holding the camera, I guess.
There's probably more than one way to do this, but one way comes to my mind. Five 2x8s nailed and glued to form a 7-1/2 inch square beam would give you the posts you need. If you want them a tad wider, then face each beam with 1x10s glued to the beam faces. Use a real waterproof glue and many clamps. Another possibility is to reduce the size of the pillars and use posts that are already made. I think you can find 6x8s. You don't need specially treated wood, paint will protect the wood.
Here, there are companies that still sell railroad ties, but they are NOT lumber yards or big box stores. Do an internet search or check your phone book.
Thank you, Gary. That's an interesting plan. We'll have to think about that.
hj, we did call one place in Puyallup that several places recommended (we're in Seattle). They are not the size we need, though, even if they are in good enough shape, and there is just a point beyond which lack of cost effectiveness negates desire.
So onward to plan "B."