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Barn Reno Pt. 3 | Flooring & Layout

 Part of my barn's floor is dirt, and part is railroad ties. Personally, I really like the ties - they're a bit of a pain to sweep if they're going the 'wrong' way from the direction I'm sweeping, but regardless I have had absolutely zero issues with slipping, and so on.  Railroad ties are a little controversial because they're coated in creosote, which is believed to be a carcinogen, but it gives them an oily texture that repels moisture very well.  After some thought, we made the decision to put Railroad ties under the stalls, with a brief layer of sand to 'smooth it out', fill in the cracks, and help with some drainage, followed by mats on top.  

As a result of our decision, we wanted to move some ties around to complete 1 side of stalls for the time being while we source more ties, but they are still frozen to the ground.  On a whim, I happened to find some for sale on the Facebook Marketplace in a town 2.5 hours away, which my brother-in-law just happened to be travelling to, to pick up a new flat-deck trailer.  The stars really couldn't have aligned any better, so they picked up 1 bundle of 25 ties for us. My sister-in-law wanted a few for some yard projects, so I told her to take which ever ones she wanted and we would keep the rest in exchange for picking them up for us, and lucky for me she picked the junkiest/most beat up/most cracked ones.  

The ties are very cumbersome to work with - they're heavy, dirty and awkward to maneuver, especially by yourself.  First we had to prep the site where we were laying them by levelling the ground by hand. We did this with a variety of hand tools that included axes to chop the frozen clay, pitch forks, shovels, shavings forks and brooms, and once we put a tie in place we hammered it into place to ensure it was as close to the other ties and back wall as possible.  Occasionally, we laid a tie and had to move it to work on the ground more, to ensure they were stable under foot.   It was time consuming, but luckily we only had a portion of one side to do, because it was already previously done.

In the photo above, we had already laid a handful of ties in addition to what was already there.

We had to trim a few to make them as even as possible

Once we had them in length-wise, we added two going in the opposite direction which will support the front of the stalls, and make up our final depth of roughly 9.5 feet.  While we decided to just work with what we had knowing the stall depth wasn't ideal, it continued to way heavy on my mind.  That, coupled with the fact that I can't visualize building objects to save my life, I pulled out my trusty measuring stick to ease my brain.

The log on the ground that blends into the floor is where the dividing wall will fall, when in use.

Overall, it's still not ideal, but seeing Sierra comfortable both in the depth and roof height (she is standing under the lowest part of the roof in the photos, and it slopes upwards fairly steeply) of the future-stalls gave me peace of mind.  Realistically, we don't or won't stall regularly, and when both sides of the stalls are done they will likely be left "open" with the dividing wall folded back against the wall more often than not unless we need 3 - 4 stalls at once, I think it will be okay.

Currently, we are waiting for materials and our electrician so we are at a bit of a stand-still.  I'm really trying to push things along, because as Spring creeps in my husband is itching to go play on tractors and fix things to prepare for haying season and harvest.  The electrician is due to come this week and install several more lights and electrical outlets.  Once that is complete, we will move to insulating and closing in the walls and roof, while we continue to pick-away at the unique framing of the stall fronts.

For clarification of the future layout, please enjoy my very poorly scaled 'blueprint' courtesy of Microsoft Paint.


  1. I haven't seen railroad ties used as flooring before - it is quite smart! The moisture factor is a bonus for sure. Glad your renos are moving along. Hopefully you can get enough done before hay season! :-)

  2. There are a few people around here that swear by the railroad ties - Danny (farrier) uses them in his paddocks as a "walkway" so that when it turns into mud season, the horses can simply walk on the ties.


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