Comandos

Garden building from timber sleepers?

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Hello everyone,

   My first post here, been reading your forum for quite some time and wanted to thank for all of you contribute to this forum as it helps a lot of amateur's such myself towards getting something built. Around 18 months ago I pretty much knew nothing about building, then we bought our 1st house in  November 2020 and spent full year completely renovating it from top to bottom which I believe has now moved me to amateur DIY level :)

 


   What I am looking for now I could not find on the forum, therefore created new topic and hopefully somebody will be able to help.

   Basically we are planning to build another garden building for sauna and gym, already sorted paperwork with council etc and now left last steps before finally ordering stuff, doing foundation and starting the build. Due to the shape of our building (limited due to position within the garden) there is no ready to build kits for me, so we will have to do the whole build ourselves. All this time I had my mind set on using SIPS for floors, walls and ceilings, however just recently I looked into the price of cladding and was pretty shocked - easily looking at around £30sq metre just for external cladding, whether it would be composite or wooden option, as you probably know all comes up very expensive, as we want to have wood effect inside internal cladding would not be cheap either, therefore with cost of SIPS and internal and external cladding, walls already hovering around £100sq metre which is definitely more than I anticipated. 

   Due to high cost of cladding, I then went looking into log cabins, again no kit for us due to shape, but can order logs separately, however also price comes around £100sq metre for medium thickness 45mm logs.

   Then looked into timber, c16/c24 rated timber sized 47mm/150mm comes at around £40sv metre and could be used same as logs to build the wall, right?

 

   And now finally the question - was looking into thicker timber and found timber sleepers that are 100mm/200mm in size and work out to be under £50sq metre - and here is my question - is there any reason why I could not use sleepers for the walls of my garden building? I would stand them up so it would sit 200mm height and 100mm thick - this way the walls would be 100mm thick and provide more than enough insulation and actually much thicker than other log or timber options, so it would be like building with thick timber logs. Or is there something that I am missing here? We could lay them in pattern as per attached to ensure they hold in place. The only thing that I can think of is if sleepers are not perfectly straight when placing them on each other we might have some gaps between the logs or the gaps could be appear after from the movement of wood, but apart from that I cannot think as to why they could not be used? I want wood effect on both inside and outside of the building, so with right wood treatment that would be job done  without additional cladding etc. For floors and ceiling I would probably still use Sips. So is, this completely bonkers idea or actually doable? :)

 

 

Thank you in advance!


 

front (1).jpg

sleepers wall.jpg

Dimensions 1.jpg

Edited by Comandos

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Welcome - very interesting post. I've been looking at garden buildings for a while and agree that they can get very expensive very quickly!

 

I guess the main advantage of the log kits is that they are designed and manufactured to go together tightly and then stay stable as the wood expands and contracts naturally.

 

No reason you can't replicate this but depends on your joinery skills and the strategy you use to join timbers (mechanical fixings,  timber joints or mix of both).

 

Or commission a joiner to make it for you (or even get you started) and perhaps the savings in materials offset their labour.

 

Did you watch that woodworking show on C4 last year? The final project they did was garden buildings. 

 

https://www.channel4.com/programmes/handmade-britains-best-woodworker

 

 

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51 minutes ago, Comandos said:

Hello everyone,

   My first post here, been reading your forum for quite some time and wanted to thank for all of you contribute to this forum as it helps a lot of amateur's such myself towards getting something built. Around 18 months ago I pretty much knew nothing about building, then we bought our 1st house in  November 2020 and spent full year completely renovating it from top to bottom which I believe has now moved me to amateur DIY level :)

 


   What I am looking for now I could not find on the forum, therefore created new topic and hopefully somebody will be able to help.

   Basically we are planning to build another garden building for sauna and gym, already sorted paperwork with council etc and now left last steps before finally ordering stuff, doing foundation and starting the build. Due to the shape of our building (limited due to position within the garden) there is no ready to build kits for me, so we will have to do the whole build ourselves. All this time I had my mind set on using SIPS for floors, walls and ceilings, however just recently I looked into the price of cladding and was pretty shocked - easily looking at around £30sq metre just for external cladding, whether it would be composite or wooden option, as you probably know all comes up very expensive, as we want to have wood effect inside internal cladding would not be cheap either, therefore with cost of SIPS and internal and external cladding, walls already hovering around £100sq metre which is definitely more than I anticipated. 

   Due to high cost of cladding, I then went looking into log cabins, again no kit for us due to shape, but can order logs separately, however also price comes around £100sq metre for medium thickness 45mm logs.

   Then looked into timber, c16/c24 rated timber sized 47mm/150mm comes at around £40sv metre and could be used same as logs to build the wall, right?

 

   And now finally the question - was looking into thicker timber and found timber sleepers that are 100mm/200mm in size and work out to be under £50sq metre - and here is my question - is there any reason why I could not use sleepers for the walls of my garden building? I would stand them up so it would sit 200mm height and 100mm thick - this way the walls would be 100mm thick and provide more than enough insulation and actually much thicker than other log or timber options, so it would be like building with thick timber logs. Or is there something that I am missing here? We could lay them in pattern as per attached to ensure they hold in place. The only thing that I can think of is if sleepers are not perfectly straight when placing them on each other we might have some gaps between the logs or the gaps could be appear after from the movement of wood, but apart from that I cannot think as to why they could not be used? I want wood effect on both inside and outside of the building, so with right wood treatment that would be job done  without additional cladding etc. For floors and ceiling I would probably still use Sips. So is, this completely bonkers idea or actually doable? :)

 

 

Thank you in advance!


 

 

 

 

 

Could work, however, some considerations:

 

The sleepers sit flat on top of each other, the external wall, would be susceptible to rain sitting/passing in between them and will become quite draughty, it will get worse as they dry out and the gap opens, even sealing it on construction would not last. You need to think about a method to enable water run off - options may include asking a mill to cut the sleepers with a groove and raised "key" section with a diagonal cut to the joint to create a sort of tongue and groove affair. 

 

Check the treatment of sleepers, as this is not their intended use they tend to use treatments which are not great for we humans to breath in and touch, just make sure you are not creating a gas chamber for yourself. More of a note this one.

 

How are you going to fix them together at a depth of 200mm - LONG coach bolts? 

 

I am sure there must be a cheaper option for you to achieve the same look - I did a fancy garden shed/log store with 100mm block up to 1200mm then a 2x3 frame on top of that, then clad the whole lot in breathable membrane, battens and timber with shoshugibon treatment. I went for vertical 100mm pieces but you could use 1x6 off saw treated for the external, I'd run the lengths through a table saw and cut the corner off to help make the water run out and drip down and out from the above board. Then inside you could buy a suitable internal wood and insulate the frame. 

 

Given the volume of timber in a sleeper, it would equate to about 5 pieces of board per sleeper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Carrerahill

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Thank you for a quick responses guys!

Literally watching this woodworking on C4 as I type now :)

 

Definitely did not even think about potential risk of chemicals used for the sleepers, definitely something to look into. With regards to fixing them together, I did not get up to there yet, but at 200mm depth it would definitely be a bit of an issue. 

 

Just spoke to my friend who works in construction and he said that within time he could get me enough of 4x2 or 6x2 timber for the whole build very cheap, enough to build the walls out of it. Therefore if we put the sleepers away for now until I do my research on chemicals, what do you think of using 6x2 timber for the structure build? Thickness would be 47mm which would just about do for the full year use, however what would be the main challenge? To what I can see potentially the gaps between the logs when laying together? Looking at log cabins, timber is similar apart from tongue and grooves - is that the main thing that holds those logs from lifting up and causing gaps? It would be possible to do those as well, but the price of those 6x2 would need to be very good to be worthwhile all this extra work :D 

 

I have attached couple pictures, 2 are from my BBQ table that we built this summer using 6x2s, as you see see they have been secure by screwing them at the corner posts, from distance it looks great, but when looking from close up, gaps between the logs can be seen, which would be the main issue for the build - is there any other way to secure them to remove the gaps? or maybe laying some kind of thin insulation tape in-between each log to prevent drafts?

 

3rd picture is from our log cabin that was build over 3 years ago, of course no gaps and those bevelled edges - are they done for the looks or actually for the water run off as Carrerahill suggested? Again, never even thought of potential water run off issue until now. 

 

Carrerahill - what do you mean by 2x3 frame? Build wooden frame which would then be insulated?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bbq gaps.jpg

bbq.jpg

cabin.jpg

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