"Play sand" vs. "mason's sand" [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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04-29-2005, 08:22 PM
When I went to my local building center to get materials for my deck mud and all they had for sand was "play sand". Is this different from mason's sand? It seems like this may be a courser sand. Should I try to find mason's sand instead? I tried a test batch and it seemed like it did not screed smoothly.
Thanks in advance.


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04-29-2005, 08:24 PM
Don't know the difference in specs but i make all my shower pans from the Sand/Topping Quickcrete mix. No need to add more sand


04-29-2005, 08:38 PM
Hi Rich,

Play sand would be ok to use. It comes from a rock quarry, and is course. You just don't want to use sand that comes from the beach, which is rounded.:)


I have used sand mix straight before, and it is harder to screed. I tried it once when I ran out of it in the middle of a job, and a local hardware store had the sand mix, but no sand. I works fine, but I find that it tends to pull out with the screed, rather than shave clean. Cutting it with more sand makes it much easier.:)

04-29-2005, 08:40 PM

Jason is a pro, so I can't gainsay anything he says. However, I've mixed deck and wall mud using 'play sand' and 'mason's sand,' and the only difference I can see is that mason's sand is a noticably finer grain sand.

I would defer to the Muddy Mud-Men on this forum like JB and others (amazingly too numerous to mention here), but if I had to describe the difference between the two, mason's sand makes (unsurprisingly) a smoother mud than play sand. For deck mud I can't imagine it mattering; for floating walls and curbs, it may be ta difference between playing a really fine violin and a Stradaverius. Are you a good enough 'player' to make something of the difference?

Best of luck!


04-30-2005, 06:31 AM
Hi Matt,

I can see where doing a large mud floor would be more difficult with the "richer" sand mix. I use it for shower pans so the slale is much smaller. Not worth taking extra sand for such a small job


04-30-2005, 07:21 AM
The building supply I use has two different grits of sand, both are sharp sand, one is masonry sand, the other is tile or plaster sand. The masonry sand is too fine (at least around here, could be different in your area) to make good tile mud and the tile sand is too course to make good brick mud. I have tried using mason's sand to float walls and it normally slides off the wall into the floor. Each pit is different, that supply house gets it from a pit South of Dallas, I can get sand at other supply houses that get their sand from a pit North of Dallas along the Red River, it looks cleaner, less clay in it I guess. I have mudded walls a few times with their masonry sand and it works okay, not as good as the course sand but it will work. I've never used play sand but don't see anything wrong with adding it to sand mix to weaken the mix for dry pack. :)

04-30-2005, 08:41 AM
Thanks for your input guys. I am just amazed at how quick you guys respond! This is such a great resource.
I don't know how I got "mason's sand" in my head for deck mud. It's "all purpose sand" that the recipe in the liberry calls for. I'm guessing that "play sand" is the same. As a matter of fact John B. shows a picture of Quikrete sand mix + "play sand" on page 83 of his book where he's talking about deck mud. So that answers that. Sorry John - I guess I should review the book before I jump into this forum with a question. ( It's such an addiction - I may have to seek therapy soon!)


John Bridge
04-30-2005, 01:52 PM
Sand is different everywhere you go, but when making mud for a shower floor or other small project you just use what's handy. For making mud for large projects I always order in sharp sand. :)

04-30-2005, 02:04 PM
Davy -- that very interesting what you say about mason's sand and wall mud. For two of my shower walls I used play sand. For the curb I used mason's sand and it worked great -- the mud was very smooth -- so I used it for the mud on my third wall. The mud tended to slide, but I though I had just mixed it too wet. Eventually that's the wall I tore down because it was crumbly. Maybe smooth mud is not the best mud.


John Bridge
04-30-2005, 02:33 PM

What passes for masonry sand in Houston, and probably in Dallas, is very fine like beach sand. Bricklayers use it, but it's no good for floating walls. In other parts of the country masonry sand is crushed (as is "sharp" sand). Your mason's sand is probably crushed rock which is much courser than what we have.

It's really tough talking about sand on the Internet. Pictures don't do a lot of good. ;)

Rd Tile
04-30-2005, 03:52 PM
I think we have the best sand there is.:)

It all comes local out of the ground and is screened, concrete sand, mason sand, fine sand, asphalt sand, etc.:)

It starts out called bank run, this is what is screened for sand and gravel of different sizes.:)

Just curious, what do you guys in Texas pay for sand?:)

04-30-2005, 04:24 PM
Yep, like John said, our masonry sand looks like beach sand. It's easy to find down here with all the brick work being done. Good tile sand needs to have about 1/8 size grit to it, along with some of the fine grit.

Southern California always had good and easy to find tile and plaster sand since there is more plaster work done there.

I pay about 35-40 dollars in North Texas for a cubic yard. If I need more, I can get 11 yards hauled out for 220 dollars, about half the price.