Masonry Sand Vs. Play Sand (2023): Comprehensive Differences

Are you trying to make a sandbox? 

Then, you have to go through the process of choosing the right kind of sand. Typically, with sandboxes, there is a choice of choosing between masonry sand vs play sand.

You can’t decide on one of them without knowing about the sands and how they impact your builds. So, that’s why I will be going through an in-depth comparison between the two types of sands to give you a clear picture of what you are dealing with. 

Let’s get started with it.

Comparison Table Of The Masonry Sand And Play Sand 

Let’s take a quick look at the table to compare the different choices. This will be helpful if you are short on time to choose a sand option.

Specification Masonry sand Play sand 
Grains Fine Finer 
Usability Multipurpose  Not suitable for a lot of purposes 
Safety Not the safest Comparatively safe 
Processing Decent Thorough  
Price Reasonable Expensive 

While this is good for getting a general idea, it’s not the best way to find out the better option for your needs. Following up with that, I will be diving deep into the comparison, so I recommend you check that out to see how each choice comes out.

In-detail Comparison Of Masonry Sand And Play Sand 

Well, in reality, both of them are sands, right? 

So, you won’t get too many differences between the two options. Some of the differences that they portray are just things that impact the application of the sands. Let’s get through them quickly –

  • Purpose of Use 
masonry sand

The first and major difference you get to see between the two grains of sand is in their application. Where you use each of these sands is different.

Usually, masonry sand is all-purpose sand that you can use in various scenarios.

You can use the sand for making mortar or smooth concrete used for brick layering. 

People also use these sands for filling up playgrounds and volleyball fields too.

On the other hand, playing sand is just the perfect option for sandboxes. Other than that, there aren’t many uses for playing sands. 

This means in terms of versatility, playing sand is not the option. But if you are making sandbox, then it’s the go-to pick.

  • Grains 

Now, let’s talk about the grain element for both the sands. Typically, you will know that masonry sand has some of the finest grains in the construction sands category. 

However, play sands take that further and produce even finer grains.

Because of that, they are much more comfortable to sit and play on compared to masonry sand. Still, masonry sand is quite fine in the grains compared to the other kinds of sands out there.

  • Content of The Sands 

The kind of content sands has mostly depends on where it comes from. Usually, the rocks from the quarry decide the content they will have. 

For example, you can get sand from limestone, granite, quartz, and other rocks. Note that these are some of the most common ones.

Having said that, there another element that can be present in the sand is crystalline silica. Now, this is an element that can raise some safety questions. 

When you inhale this crystalline silica, you are essentially putting your respiratory system at risk.

Both the sand types have this content in them. However, some variants of play sand don’t seem to have any silica. This makes those play sands much more preferable when you think about safe usage of the sand.

  • Sand Source 
play sand

Well, just like any other sand, both these grains of sand come from either rock mines or quarries.

There are no other options for getting sands. 

Now, it’s not like you get all the sands ready-made. They go through some processing to make the sands something that you can use for your particular purposes.

The difference you get to see between these two sands types is their processing.

Masonry sands don’t go through a thorough process like play sands. 

So, they are a little bit rougher than the play sands. However, they have their use as well, so you can’t count them out either.

  • Availability 

In terms of availability, I would say masonry sand is much more common and available almost wherever you go. But play sands aren’t that available. Especially if you are looking for silica-free play sand, you will go through a much harder time getting them.

As for the place, you can easily look for them online or at a hardware store. Or you can also try out the sand suppliers to check their availability.

In short, masonry sand is something that you will find almost everywhere. Play sand is something that you may need to look for a bit.

  • Price 

There is a clear difference between the two choices in the price factor. Usually, playing sands are pretty expensive. Now, the reason for that is simple; play sands go through thorough processing, which costs quite a bit.

On the other hand, masonry sands are very easy to process, so they don’t cost as much. Also, if you are thinking of silica-free play sands, you may even need to pay a lot more.

As you can see, since they both are sands, you don’t get that many differences. Still, few differences can impact the choice a lot. 

Also, you have to think about the usage factor and the purpose of using your sand.

What Is The Suitable Pick For You? 

There is no one true pick that you can just use for any case. It mostly depends on the purpose of your use. 

For example, if you are making a sandbox for your kids, there is no better pick than playing sand. Other than that, I would say masonry sand is the better pick. 

Also, if you are thinking about a budget option in any case, then masonry sand is much more affordable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

People often ask some common questions regarding masonry sand and play sand –

Is masonry sand the same as play sand?

No, play sand tends to be much finer than masonry sand. You get finer grains on play sands that are more comfortable on your skin. Also, some play sand can be silica free, so they are much safer to use.

Can I use play sand for mortar mix? 

No, you can’t use play sand for making mortar mix for concrete because the grains on the play sand are much finer than other sands. But concrete or mortar mixes require some rough edges. Otherwise, they are not effective.

Can play sand be used in concrete?

While it may not be the ideal pick, you can use play sand in concrete for almost any project. It will not yield the best results because of the finer grain on them. But it indeed works out.

What is the difference between play sand and builder’s sand?

The most fundamental difference you get between play sand and builders’ sand is the grains. Play sands are much finer than builders’ sand, and that’s what makes them suitable for sandboxes.


To sum things up, I would say masonry sand vs play sand isn’t even a debate to talk about. It’s very clear; if you make a sandbox, you pick play sand. 

If you are doing anything other than that, masonry sand is a better pick. Is masonry safe for sandbox? 

Well, no, but can you use it to save up some money? Yes. That’s pretty much the end of it.

Ralph Wade

Hey...Ralph is here! So, did you find this article useful? If so, please leave a comment and let me know. If not, please tell me how I can improve this article. Your feedback is always appreciated. Take love :)

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