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Question DetailsAsked on 9/14/2016

what type sand is recommended prior to pouring concrete sidewalks

I have been told screen cushion sand, white sand, concrete sand to name a few. A least expensive better grade would be ideal. I am in far north dallas texas, so I don't know if that makes any difference. Any suggestions?

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None - while sand is used under pavers to enable you to get them levelled up relative to each other, concrete should be placed on a compacted base - commonly a 1" or 3/4" (for driveways) or 3/4" or 1/2" (for sidewalks) minus crushed stone with not over about 3% "fines" - which is the portion passing a #200 screen - basically silt/dust portion. Limiting the fines prevents it from becoming boggy or too soft when wet, and reduces the chance of frost heave in winter.


The base material provides bearing support to the drive/sidewalk, and also provides drainage so the concrete does not sink into clauyey or silty soil - normally 4-8" thick non driveways, 2-4" on sidewalks depending on how fine grained the native soil is. This product would commonly be called driveway or sidewalk base material, and would meet the specifications of your local streets/highway department - a common material at any pit or most concrete plants who also sell screened product. The "base" is compacted and graded to the desired finish grade (minus the thickness of concrete to be poured), then dampened (to avoid pulling the water out of the concrete, and the concrete poured on top of the base. This provides a good bonding with the base - concrete cast on sand can migrate around too easy, and if water runs along the side of the sidewalk/drive it can erode out the sand and cause settlement. Also, sand does not generally have the load capacity for proper support of a driveway. Base material is generally only available in bulk - rarely in bagged form for your type use.


For a small DIY job, IF in soft/fine grained soil and you need a good bearing and drainage layer (like over Texas red clay or gumbo or river silt) you can use a fine opening non-biodegradable geotextile over the native soil, then pea gravel over that compacted as a base material - will compact denser and stronger and more scuff-resistant while working if mixed 50% with multi purpose sand.


For a very small DIY job, looking for just a minor levelling course for a sidewalk in coarse rocky soil or clayey soil that may not drain particularly well, you could use a quarter to half inch or so of sand available in bags from home improvement stores and some lumberyards - commonly called Mason's or All-Purpose Sand, though Traction Sand (used for winter drive and walkway traction) works better where available because it is a crushed product and coarser, so less likely to wash out readily - also generally cheaper. They are both typically about $3-5/bag at building supply places and $5-7 at greenhouses and some hardware type stores like Ace, bag typically weighs 60# and contains 1/2 cubic foot of material though locally sometimes comes in 50 or 100# bags which hold about 0.4 or 0.8 cubic feet, respectively. Typically about $12-20/CY in bulk at a lumberyard or concrete plant or gravel pit that sells screened materials - crushed product as opposed to river sand will work better for your use if available. I would NOT use ocean beach sand (not a problem in your area) because of the salt effect on the concrete and rebar.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD




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