Masonry Sand vs Concrete Sand: What’s the Difference?
Sand is a vital part of both concrete and mortar mixes. It is used to provide both the texture and the bonding needed to give these mixtures added strength and durability.
Most people assume that all construction-grade sand is created equal, but this is not the case.
- 1 Masonry Sand vs Concrete Sand: What’s the Difference?
- 1.1 What is Masonry Sand?
- 1.2 What is Concrete Sand?
- 1.3 What are the differences between masonry sand and concrete sand?
- 1.4 Can you use Masonry Sand and Concrete Sand interchangeably?
- 1.5 Should You Mix Masonry Sand and Concrete Sand?
- 1.6 Conclusion
There are actually different types of sand for different construction applications. The two most common types of sand used in the building industry are concrete sand and masonry sand.
So, what’s the difference between these two types of sand? And how you can you tell which type of sand you are using?
Without any further ado, here is the main difference between concrete sand and masonry sand:
Concrete sand is a type of sand that is specifically designed to be used in concrete mixes.
It is typically used in applications where a high level of strength and durability is required, such as in foundations, walls, and slabs.
On the other hand, masonry sand is a finer and more uniform type of sand that is can be used in both mortar and concrete mixes.
It is used in applications where a smooth, finished surface is desired while still retaining the strength and durability of concrete.
What is Masonry Sand?
Masonry sand is a type of sand that is specifically designed to be used in mortar mixes. It is designed to help create a smooth, finished surface when used in masonry applications.
Masonry sand may consist of natural sand or manufactured sand. Natural sand is what you would typically find at a beach or river. While manufactured sand is created in a quarry, where the rock is crushed into smaller pieces to form sand.
In the US, masonry sand is expected to meet ASTM C144-18 Standard Specification for Aggregate for Masonry Mortar. This specification addresses the minimum requirements for masonry sand, including its grain size, shape, and roundness.
What is Concrete Sand?
Concrete sand is a type of sand that is specifically designed to be used in concrete mixes. It is typically used in applications where strength and durability are the most important factors, such as foundations and slabs.
Concrete sand is much coarser than masonry sand due to the fact that it has larger grains.
Concrete sand can also be natural sand, manufactured sand, or a combination of the two.
This coarseness helps to give concrete mixes added strength and durability. In the US, concrete sand is expected to meet ASTM C33 Standard Specification for Concrete Aggregate. This specification addresses the minimum requirements for concrete sand, including the size, grading, and shape of the sand.
According to the standard, fine aggregate should not have any organic impurities. Otherwise, existent impurities may affect the physical and chemical properties of the concrete mixture.
Concrete sand must also be free from deleterious materials that are reactive to the alkalis in the cement.
What are the differences between masonry sand and concrete sand?
The most notable difference between masonry sand and concrete sand is that they are used in different applications.
But here is a quick list of some other differences between these two types of sand:
Masonry sand is a much finer and more uniform type of sand that has very small grains. As such, masonry sands have the ability to create a smooth, finished surface when used in mortar and concrete mixes.
Concrete sand has larger grains that are much coarser than masonry sand. The larger grains are what give concrete mixes added strength and durability.
Shape & Roundness
Masonry sand granules have a more uniform shape and roundness. While concrete sand granules have more angular granules that aren’t as uniform.
Since masonry is the finer and more uniform type of sand, it can be used in more applications than concrete sand. There are so many interior and exterior applications where masonry sand cannot be replaced with concrete sand.
Masonry sand is typically more expensive than concrete sand because it is a finer and more uniform type of sand. The added expense comes from the fact that masonry sand typically requires more processing than concrete sand.
Masonry sand is more widely available than concrete sand. Concrete sand is typically only found in areas where there are large concrete production facilities.
Because of this, concrete sand may be a little harder to find in some parts of the country.
Can you use Masonry Sand and Concrete Sand interchangeably?
You can use masonry sand in most applications where you would use concrete sand. However, you cannot use concrete sand in applications where masonry sand is required.
For example, you can use concrete sand in a foundation mix, but you cannot use it to create a smooth surface when using mortar.
Conversely, you can use masonry sand for both applications. However, the latter option may be more expensive.
In the end, these two types of sand are dedicated products for different applications. Therefore, it is always best to use the type of sand that is specified for the given application.
Should You Mix Masonry Sand and Concrete Sand?
It is not recommended to mix masonry sand and concrete sand together. Mixing the two types of sand will degrade the properties that make each type of sand so useful.
That said you can mix some masonry sand in a concrete mix if there is no other option.
Since masonry sand is a superior type of sand, there will not likely be any performance issues with mixing it in a concrete mix. However, this is not recommended and is only done as a last resort.
The construction industry went through a lot of changes over the years. However, one thing remained constant. That is using the right type of materials for the job.
The wrong assumption of “sand is sand” is a common mistake that may lead to unexpected results. Therefore, it is important to the correct type of sand for the intended application.