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The Different Types of Sand and Their Uses

June 15, 2023 10:11 pm Published by

For some people, sand is simply the stuff you lie on when you’re on holiday. But there’s so much more to sand, with lots of different types of sand available for a wide range of purposes when it comes to construction and landscaping. 

This month at Bosaco, we wanted to run through the most common types of sand out there and what their uses are beyond building sandcastles. Below, you’ll find five different sand types explained in more detail, along with their most common uses.

But first, let’s take a moment to discuss what sand is or, more precisely, what sand is made of.

What is sand made of?

The sand we know and depend on so much is actually larger rocks ground down into tiny particles. This grinding down of larger rocks and minerals is something that can naturally occur over many thousands of years to create sand, usually through erosion by moving water, winds or by rocks naturally moving against each other. It can, however, be man-made, which throws an extra category of sand into the equation.

There are plenty of sand types to explore for construction, but it should be pointed out that any sand from the ocean isn’t likely the sand you’ll find in major construction since it contains too much salt. Meanwhile, the massive amounts of sand you see in the desert is also not likely to be used since it is too small and fine. 

Let’s now take a look at the five most common types of sand you’ll come across in commercial construction and DIY.

Sharp sand 

Sharp sand has grains that are a lot larger than most other types, which is why you might see it referred to as coarse sand. This also means it’s ideal for use in a concrete mixture because of the more angular texture it provides, lending itself well as a binding agent. When using sharp sand in concrete mixtures, you’re more likely to get a strong and durable finish.

Since sharp sand is sourced by digging it from within a pit, you might also know this type as ‘pit sand’. You can spot pit sand thanks to a more reddish-orange colour which is gained from having been in ground that is rich with iron oxide.

Building sand

Building sand is considered to be a finer grade of sand than sharp sand, and those smaller grains make it a more useful addition in the mixture of mortar. Whether it’s simple bricklaying, paving or rendering, a smoother mixture is always easier to work with. It also allows for a smoother finish, which also means it can be used in plastering works.

This sand type can often be sourced from river beds and river banks and is usually a light brown colour. 

Kiln-dried sand

Kiln-dried sand is a type of sand that has been thoroughly dried in a kiln to rid it of any water it contains. Traditionally sourced from beaches, that means it has a fair bit of water content that needs to be removed before it can be used. As we previously mentioned, beach sand can be salty and fine, which means it’s usually only put into use as a dry filler between your paving slabs – which has earned it the name ‘jointing sand’ – or as sand for the kids to play with in a sand pit. 

Artificial sand

Artificial sand is actually a similar grain size to building sand, which means you can use it for a lot of the same jobs in construction and landscaping. As the name indicates, artificial sand is not naturally occurring and has to instead be created by crushing together rocks such as basalt or granite until it becomes the right grain size. You might also see this type of sand referred to as M sand, where the ‘M’ indicates that it has been ‘manufactured’.

Plastering sand

While a lot of sand types might overlap and have a lot of different names, one to pick out is plastering sand. This is similar to river sand, except that it will have been thoroughly cleaned and washed before being sold. Again, as you might have guessed from the name, this type of sand is ideal for use in plastering and rendering due to its fine grade.

Choose a local, reliable construction company

If you’re not sure what the different types of sand and their uses are, we hope this has been helpful. However, if you’re still not feeling confident but have landscaping, gardening or construction work you need carrying out for your property in Nottingham, look no further than our friendly, expert team here at Bosaco.

As experienced tradesmen carrying out a wide variety of building and construction work, we always know the right sand grade and grain to use for different projects. This means you get the best possible attributes for a fantastic, lasting finish. 

Contact us today to talk to us about any building works or landscaping you have in mind and get a free, no-obligation quote.

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