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What You Should Know About Sand and Gravel

Friday, March 11, 2016

Unless you are working on a construction project, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about sand and gravel.   Easily accessible natural resources, sand and gravel are basic raw materials that are an important component used in construction.   The 2016 mineral commodity summary put out by the USGS tells that $7.2 billion worth of sand and gravel was produced by 6, 300 operations in 2015. That was 702 million tons of sand and gravel shipped in just the first nine months of the year. Simply put, sand and gravel may be basic materials, but they are major resources used in the United States.  

How It Was Used

702 million tons of sand and gravel is a lot of sand and gravel.   It was used in a variety of ways, Including:

  • 45% concrete aggregates
  • 25% road base
  • 12% construction fill
  • 2% filtration, golf courses, railroad ballast, roofing granules, other miscellaneous uses
  • 1% concrete products: blocks, bricks, pipes, plaster, snow & ice control 

What are sand and gravel aggregates?

Natural gravel and sand are dug up from pits, lakes, rivers and seabeds.   Aggregates can be a mix of materials such as sand, gravel, crushed stone, and slag.     Aggregates make up 60 to 75% percent of concrete mix.   Fine aggregates have smaller particles, while coarse aggregates have particles larger than a ¼ inch.     Crushed aggregate is created by crushing larger boulders, stones, gravel or rocks taken from quarries.   States often need to approve material before it is used in highway construction projects.   Shoreline offers INDOT, IDOT and MDOT state approved aggregates for Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.  

What is road base?

Roads use a base of sand and gravel as a bottom layer that the road is built upon.   This layer helps the road support the weight of cars and trucks that travel on it and creates a stable base for the road.   Highways, roads, and driveways all start with a base layer of crushed rock or gravel.   Make sure to use state approved aggregates by purchasing INDOT, IDOT and MDOT state approved aggregates from Shoreline.  

What is construction fill?

Construction fill is often needed on a construction site to fill in depressions or holes in the ground, elevate the property, or build up shoulders next to highways.   Sand and gravel are often used with soil as the fill material.  

What is railroad ballast?

Railroad ballast has an important job to keep the tracks stabilized and secure. The ballast is the crushed rocks that make a bed for the tracks and sit to the side of the tracks.   It is often made of crushed granite, and can be referred to as granite ballast. Limestone can also make good railroad ballast.  

What other projects use sand and gravel?

Most sand and gravel is used for concrete aggregates, but there are many more uses.   Sand and gravel are also used for the following projects.

  • Golf Courses--It is obvious that sand is used to create the bunkers found along the golf course, but bunker sand is not the only place where sand is used.   Used for top dressing, divot mixes, and root zone construction mixes, sand is an important golf course material to make the ideal golfing surface.  
  • Equestrian Sand--Equestrian arenas are more than just a sand-filled area.   Much work goes into making the ideal surface for an equestrian arena and quality equestrian sand is very important.  
  • Pool Sand--Pool filters use special pool sand to trap dirt and keep your pool clean.  
  • Volleyball Sand--The right sand will make your volleyball court great. Not just any sand will do, since it is important to get sand that won’t be too dusty, too coarse or compact too much.  
  • Landscaping--Don’t forget the landscape. Gravel looks great lining flower beds or paths. Pea gravel is a great option for adding beauty to any landscaping project.

Sand and Gravel Suppliers

Shoreline is a sand and gravel supplier that only delivers quality products.   Whether you are completing a large or small project, Shoreline will bring you quality products at a great price.   For highway projects, we offer state approved aggregates and rip rap.   If you need to build a golf course or keep it maintained, Shoreline has the products you needs.   We are the sand and gravel supplier you need to help with your next project. Contact Shoreline today to learn more about our services and to order material.