Building Sand: When To Use It And How Much You Need

What is Building Sand?

Building sand is soft sand used to make mortar for bricklaying, rendering, and pointing. It has small, smooth, and even particles, which makes it easy to identify. Builders’ sand is the same type of sand as that found on the beach and at the bottom of rivers, lakes, and oceans. It is also known as bricklayer’s sand, builders’ sand, soft sand, and masonry sand.

What is Building Sand Used For?

Building sand is commonly used for:

– Bricklaying
– Pointing
– Plastering
– Rendering
– Screeds
– Lining ponds
– Laying patio slabs
– General masonry work
– Precasting paving blocks
– Ducting

It has a fine grain, usually no larger than 2mm, and is therefore used on building work where a smooth finish is required.

What is Building Sand Made From?

Building sand is made from fine grains of quartz rock and can also include particles of gravel, gritstone, granite, limestone, coral, and shells. This is because it often comes from sea and river beds. As a result, the exact mix of materials varies depending on where it comes from.

It is also commonly extracted from quarries. The particles should be no more than 2mm and its moisture content is typically around 7.5%.

How Much Building Sand Do I Need For Mortar?

You need a 4:1 ratio of building sand to cement to create a mix for bricklaying mortar. This means you will require 100kg of builder’s sand for every 25kg bag of cement. If you have an 800kg bulk bag of sand you would need 200kg of cement, which equals eight 25kg cement bags.

How Much is Building Sand?

Building sand costs £3.97 per 25kg bag and £64.69 per 800kg bulk bag. This works out at £0.16 per kg and £0.08 per kg, respectively. These costs are based on retail prices from builders merchants and include VAT. Customers can get a more competitive price if they sign up for a trade account or buy in bulk.

Does Building Sand Go Out of Date?

It will not go out of date if stored correctly. However, if it has been exposed to the elements, it may not be suitable for use. This is because smaller grains that weigh less may have been washed away, which means it will not compact as well as a batch with a wider variety of grain sizes.

How to Dispose of Building Sand?

It is possible to dispose of sand and other aggregates at some household waste recycling centres. Check your local council’s website to see if they accept hardcore rubble. If they do not, you could try to give it away to someone that has a project planned so they can use it.

How Much Building Sand Per 1000 Bricks?

You will need 1,000kg of building sand and 250kg of cement to create enough mortar for 1,000 bricks. This has been calculated using a 4:1 ratio of sand to cement and assumes you are using bricks without frogs or perforations. This means you will need 10 bags of 25kg cement per 1,000kg of builders’ sand.

Difference Between Building Sand and Sharp Sand

Sharp sand is rougher than building sand, has larger grains, and is also heavier, which is why it makes stronger concrete. Building sand on the other hand is smooth and is more suited for creating mortar. Sharp sand has much better drainage properties and is often used as a bed for pavements, patios, and driveways.

Difference Between Building Sand and Plastering Sand

Building sand and plastering sand are very similar, however, plastering sand contains less salt, silt, and clay. It is washed more thoroughly to remove these minerals, which helps to reduce cracking and shrinkage when it has dried. It also reduces the white patches that appear on masonry, known as efflorescence.

Difference Between Building Sand and Play Sand

Play sand is washed and sieved to ensure it has fine, smooth, and clean grains that are safe for children. It undergoes a much more rigorous cleaning process that blunts sharp grains and removes clay and other minerals that would otherwise stain the skin.

Why is There a Shortage of Building Sand?

There is a shortage of builders’ sand because it is used by the construction industry in such vast quantities. Around 50 billion tonnes of sand is used every year and demand is only increasing. This causes problems as there is only so much sand that can be taken from the ocean bed before causing environmental problems.

You can read more about the sand shortage on the BBC.

What Colour Is Building Sand?

Most building sand is red or yellow but it does come in a range of different colours including white, grey, and brown. You can also get a black product, which is coloured using a pigment. Colour preferences exist within different regions of the country.

The yellow version is usually softer than the red variety.

Does Building Sand Stop Weeds Growing?

It may slow down the growth of weeds, but will not stop them completely. Instead, you should use specialist sand that contains natural weed killers. These types of sand include minerals with high PH levels to combat weeds growing through cracks in pavements and patios.

Can You Lay Paving Slabs on Building Sand?

You should not lay paving slabs on building sand as it is too soft and not strong enough to hold the load. As a result, it will move over time, become uneven, and need to be relaid. It is also poor at draining away water and therefore retains too much water. Even when mixed with cement, it may be too weak.

Sharp sand should be used when laying paving slabs as it is much stronger and allows water to escape.

Can You Use Building Sand For Concrete?

You should not use this type of sand for concrete. This is because it is soft sand and does not have the sharp edges required to create a strong bond. If you are using sand in a concrete mix, it should be sharp sand. However, it is much easier to buy ballast, which is a mixture of stones, gravel, and sharp sand.

Can You Use Building Sand on Artificial Grass as an Infill?

Building sand is not the best type of sand to use on artificial grass. This is because of its poor drainage properties. After heavy rainfall, it will be soggy and contribute to waterlogging. You should use silica sand as an infill for best results.

Can You Lay Turf on Building Sand?

Laying turf on top of building sand is not recommended. It retains lots of water which means your turf will not drain properly. This will lead to a lot of long-lasting puddles, especially in winter. Instead, you should use sharp sand, which is better at allowing water to filter through.

Related Building Materials

Kiln Dried Sand
Railway Ballast
Horticultural Sand