Looking for the perfect aggregate for your construction project? Read ‘sand aggregate in building construction explained’, and learn what you need to know about using sand in your project.

At Limebase, we have a wide selection of sands and different aggregates to choose from to help bring your construction project to life. Whether you want to do restoration work or start an entirely new project, you are going to need the right materials – and we have them.

Types of Aggregates

There are many different types of sand aggregates that can be used in construction work, with some of the most common being sand, stone dust, gravel, crushed stone, pebbles, and ballast sand. There are also synthetic materials that can be used as aggregates, such as metal, plastic, or fibreglass.

In construction, aggregates can be a variety of materials (like those mentioned above) that are used to create a variety of materials. They are individual materials that get combined in order to create a cohesive material, which will then be used in a variety of projects. For example, at Limebase, we combine sand and stone-dust aggregates with lime putty to produce lime mortars and plasters.

While the applications of aggregates are endless, they are typically used to construct roads, paths and buildings. Aggregates are a crucial part of construction in today’s world.

What is Sand Aggregate?

Sand aggregate is the most common type of aggregate in construction. It is both affordable and readily available for construction. You would be hard-pressed to visit any construction site – especially in the UK – and not see sand being used as the aggregate of choice.

Sand Aggregate in Building Construction Explained

The role of aggregate is to make mortars, plasters, and concrete stronger. A well-balanced sand will have a good amount of small, medium and coarse particles. Because the sand is well-balanced, the finished mix will have fewer gaps between these particles. This makes the material stronger and more resistant to environmental conditions like freeze thaw cycles. Aggregates also add mechanical strength to lime mortars, plasters and cement based mortars which helps add to the overall longevity of buildings.

Sands are mixed with cement or lime, which are known as “binders”. They are the part of the mix which causes the material to form a hard set. Without the use of binders, many construction projects you see today simply wouldn’t be possible. ​

Sands and Aggregates for Different Uses – When to Use What

Depending on the project, you will want to use different sands or aggregates to create the perfect building or restoration material. You can use different aggregates to change the colour or texture for example.

Below are some popular sands and aggregates that can get you different effects in your construction projects:

  • Black grit – used for aesthetic reasons to add a black fleck appearance to mortar joints and to create tough, durable finishes.

  • Ginger sand (G.S.) – a fine sand which can be used to make warm honey coloured mortars. Its fine particle size means it’s perfect for pointing or construction where the joints are especially tight. Additionally, ginger sand can be added to mixes to add colour.
  • Coarse washed building sand (CWS2) – a coarse general purpose sand. It is especially good for use with stone or masonry where there are larger joints. The bigger particle sizes mean the mortar is stronger and more suitable for wider joints a finer sand.
  • Green sand – a type of stone-dust usually used as a sort of pigment, to give the mortars a green appearance. The amount used determines how deep the colour is.
  • Medium course white sand (MPS) – often used to create base coat lime plasters or brick mortars. Our GM65 white brick pointing mortar uses this sand as well as our UP4 base coat plaster.
  • Red sand – Coarse red sand (CRS) or fine red sand (FRS) are used to create red mortars. These sands are sharp and fantastic for use with lime.
  • Stone dust – Stone dusts produced here at Limebase are made from crushed, pulverized and sieved stone. For example, bath stone dust is crushed bath stone. Stone dusts can be sieved to a variety of specifications and are used to help plasticise mortars and plasters. Additionally, stone dusts are used to add colour to building materials.
  • Gravel – made up of loose stone particles larger than 2 mm. Gravel is usually composed of larger pieces of broken and crushed stone, and is typically angular. It is popular in landscaping, making concrete, and is used in various other areas of construction.

Picking the Correct Sand Type for a Project

In order to pick the perfect sand aggregate for any given project, you need to know what to factor into your decision. Not every sand will work the same or look the same, so you need to do your research and speak to professionals if you are not sure about which direction to go in.

  • Sand size – this is probably the most important aspect to consider when choosing the right sand for your project. For example, if you are building with bricks the joints are normally small, and therefore you will need a finer sand. Construction with natural stone will have bigger joints and therefore require a coarser sand.

  • Sharp or soft sand – secondly, you need to choose whether the sand is “sharp” or “soft”. For use with lime, it’s almost always recommended that sand be sharp, as it helps add strength. Lime mortars made with soft “builder’s sand” can sometimes fail. Soft sand can be used with lime, but this is normally only when making plasters or renders.
  • Aesthetics – next are the aesthetics to consider. There are many varieties of sand, all with different colours and textures. You must consider how you want the finished project to look when choosing sands. Making sample mortars/plasters can be a good idea to get a feel for the finished result.
  • Price – finally, you always need to bear in mind the price and your overall budget. Like everything, different sands will have different price tags attached, and you need to make sure that you stay within your means.

Alternatives to Sand Aggregate

Sand is the most common aggregate for a variety of construction projects, but there are alternatives to consider if you prefer. For example, minerals such as crushed stone and gravel are popular aggregate options and are commonly used for pathways, roads, and the foundations of buildings.

You may also want to consider synthetic options instead of sand aggregate. There are options such as fibreglass, plastic, and recycled material aggregates, which can make suitable alternatives to sand. Do some further research to find out if these aggregates are suitable for your needs before jumping in and making a purchase.

Where Limebase Comes in

At Limebase, we offer a wide variety of high-quality sands and aggregates to suit any project. Our range includes green sand, black grit, Mendip grit, Portland chips, and much more. Whatever you need, we can help you get it.

We also offer all kinds of blogs and guides to help you make good decisions and keep you informed. For example, some of our latest pieces have covered where to buy lime mortar for pointing, guides to limes, and lime plaster.

Feel free to contact us to find out more about us, and follow our news for all the latest information, including guides, services, and additional information. We would love to hear from you now that you understand sand aggregate in building construction explained, and see your project come to life.