Types of Sand Used in Construction for Stronger Buildings

  • May 22, 2024

As per a UNEP study, the global demand for sand reached a massive 50 billion tonnes a year in 2019. These numbers are a reflection of how the demand for sand has been rising exponentially, as it is the most vital ingredient used in building construction. 

Sand is a mix of tiny grains of rocks, soil, and other granular material created either naturally by the erosion of large rocks or artificially. Sand provides strength and structure for concrete structures. It is extensively used in building construction, wall reinforcement, flooring, roadwork, and many other areas of construction.

Types of sand used in constructionDifferent types of sand are used in construction depending on its composition, source, and use. Let us look at the different types of sand used in construction and how they are identified.

Types of Sand in Construction

In addition to the right proportions, the quality and type of sand are also important in a concrete mix. Sands can be categorised into different types based on their source, texture, and utility. Let us have a look at the different types of sand used in construction for our better understanding.

Natural River Sand

As the name suggests, Natural sand or River sand is found on the banks of rivers and streams. It is white-greyish and is a sand of fine-grained variant. Primarily used in masonry and concrete work, natural sand is also suitable for a range of other areas, including bricklaying, plastering, RCC, etc.

Natural river sandRiver sand for construction is made of eroded rocks, minerals, and organic materials brought down by the river over its course. Its grains are naturally fine and uniformly rounded in texture. On average, it contains 5% to 20% silt. It traps moisture naturally and thus needs comparatively less water during convergent scale.

Large-scale sand mining has significantly impacted river sand reserves and is becoming an environmental issue. Therefore, the use of natural sand today is strictly regulated. Some states have even implemented bans on it.


M-sand, or Manufactured sand, is manufactured in factories. It is more widely used today as a substitute for river sand. It is used in various construction activities, such as structure making, bricklaying, etc.

M-sand is prepared by crushing large blocks of granite. It is available closer to the construction site and does not have to be transported from far away, making it more affordable than river sand. The particles are mostly angular shaped, interlocking with each other in the concrete mix. 

Manufactured sandThus, it is stronger, but it requires more water during mixing. Since it is made by crushing stones in a factory, its silt content is zero.

P Sand

Plastering sand, or P-sand,  is a type of processed sand used primarily for the more refined aspects of construction, such as plastering and finishing.

According to the Indian Standards Code, P-sand is very fine-grained, with particle sizes ranging between 0.15 mm and 2.36 mm. It has a much smoother and more uniform texture than plain manufactured sand. 

P-sand consumes little water and is very workable, making it perfect for plastering works. However, its very nature makes it less suitable for other uses, such as structural concrete.

Concrete Sand

This type of sand is made by crushing concrete and filtering it to remove large chunks and rocks. It is a coarse-grained sand suitable for various applications, including building construction, base layers, pavements, highways, walkways, etc.

Concrete sand is versatile since its grains are smaller than M-sand but larger than white sand. Builders can use it to build walkways and pavements that need soft sand or as a filling material in building foundations that need rigid sand. 

Concrete sandWhen mixed with cement and water, concrete sand forms a nice solid mass to fill up any gaps in the final concrete. The result is a solid, strong foundation for a structurally stable construction.

Pit Sand

Pit sand is another type of coarse-grained sand primarily used in building construction. It occurs naturally at depths about 2 metres below ground level and is collected by digging deep pits; hence, it is called pit sand.

Pit sand grains are coarse and sharply angular in shape. These grains interlock in the concrete mix, which lends this sand strong binding properties. It is used to make PCC (plain cement concrete ). It generally contains iron oxide and is thus slightly orange-red in colour. 

Moreover, it lacks salt particles or impurities and does not react with air moisture. Thus, concrete mixes with Pit sand are structurally strong and stable.

Fill Sand

As the name suggests, Fill sand is a type of sand used mainly as a filler in building construction. It is coarse-textured and can be compacted easily, making it perfect for making base layers for further construction.

Fill sand contains a mixture of different sizes of grains made from eroded, larger rock particles. Since it compacts very well, Fill sand is an ideal base material for construction activities like foundation building, pavement laying, or filling up large excavated holes. 

It also has excellent drainage properties, making it perfect for work involving water reservoirs and septic tanks.

Mason Sand

Mason is another type of sand that is smooth and fine-grained. It is used for specialised construction activities such as pavement laying, masonry, playing courts, landscaping, etc.

Mason sandMason sand is made by crushing large rocks like granite, limestone, etc. It is fine-grained and versatile, making it equally suitable for mixing with mortar or filling in pavement joints. It is most commonly used in projects where aesthetic beauty is necessary.

Moram  Sand

Moram sand is one of the fine-grained artificial sand types made from hard stones like granite. It is reddish in colour. This type of sand is commonly used to prepare pavements, mortar mixes with concrete, and masonry work due to its fine texture.

Utility Sand

Utility sand is a uniform-grained sand that is commonly used in construction. Similar to fill sand, it is used as a filler for building foundations, pavements, etc. 

This sand is made out of high-quality industrial quartz. It supports mechanical stress very well due to its easily compact nature. Its non-reactive property allows it to be used in toxic chemical construction projects. Utility sand imparts strength and stability to the building when used for foundation laying.

How are Sands Categorised in India?

In India, sand is classified into three types based on grain size:

Fine sand:

Grain size: 0.075 mm to 0.425 mm

Medium sand:

Grain size: 0.425 mm to 2.0 mm

Coarse sand:

Grain size: 2.0 mm to 4.75 mm

In construction, different grades of sand are used for specific purposes. The type of sand is also vital for landscaping, as one needs to create different textures and appearances with the sand. You must choose between fine sand and coarse sand for construction projects; medium sand is mostly used as bedding sand.

How to Identify the Best Quality of Sand for Construction?

There are certain factors to keep in mind when selecting the best quality of sand for construction, including:

  • Particle Size:

    The size of the sand particles is vital since this determines the strength and ease of working of the concrete mix.

  • Gradation:

    Sand’s gradation measures the distribution of particles of different sizes. Good quality sand has a proper distribution of differently-sized particles.

  • Silt:

    Silt is a very fine-grained organic matter that is commonly found in river sand. These particles are similar to clay. Construction sand should have less than 3% silt.

  • Shape and Texture:

    The shape and texture of sand particles have a big impact on their quality.

  • Source:

    The source and location of the sand can influence its suitability. River sand for construction is different from quarry sand, which is again different from manufactured sand.

Bottom Line

The different types of sand used for construction depend on the different scenarios in which each sand type is being used.

Sand is a crucial determinant of the strength of construction. Therefore, selecting the right type of sand for construction projects is critical. AsmitA India Realty, our engineers ensure that the right and best possible sand is used for construction purposes to provide standard infrastructural services. With our highly acclaimed projects like the AsmitA Grand Maison, we are committed to offering our clients smart homes complemented by modern technology.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many types of sand are available in India?

India has about 6 types of sand that are used in construction work, including river sand, pit sand, concrete sand, fill sand, and manufactured sand.

  • Which type of sand is best for construction?

It depends on the nature of the construction activity in question. Some types of sand, like concrete sand and river sand, can be used for multiple purposes. On the other hand, some types of sand are of special utility. For example, fill sand is used mostly as a filler or base layer for further construction.

  • How can I check the quality of different sand types?

Several procedures are used to check the construction sand quality of different types of sand. Depending on the need, sand quality can be tested by sieve analysis, moisture content, compressive strength, specific gravity, bulk density, and permeability. A couple of other tests, such as soundness, organic content analysis, and shape and texture tests, are also performed.

By asmitarealty
By asmitarealty
By asmitarealty

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