The use of manufactured sand (M sand) in construction: All you need to know

[] Owing to the shortage of naturally -available river sand, manufactured sand or M sand is becoming a sustainable alternative for construction purposes

Owing to rapid urbanisation and large-scale construction activities, the demand for sand has increased tremendously. However, sand scarcity is a problem affecting many countries, including India. With natural sand, which is found in riverbeds and coastal regions, becoming inadequate to meet the huge demand and the environmental impact caused due to sand extraction from natural sources, M sand or manufactured sand has emerged as a sustainable option.

You are reading: The use of manufactured sand (M sand) in construction: All you need to know

The construction sector in India is now relying on manufactured sand instead of river sand. Many real estate developers across major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Pune have shifted to using M sand, as it is affordable and eco-friendly.

M sand meaning

M sand is a form of artificial sand, manufactured by crushing large hard stones, mainly rocks or granite, into fine particles, which is then washed and finely graded. It is widely used as a substitute for river sand for construction purposes, mostly in the production of concrete and mortar mix.

M sand

The manufacturing process of M sand

The manufacturing process for M sand takes place in three stages:

  • Firstly, it involves crushing stones of varying sizes into aggregates using vertical shaft impact (VSI) crushers.
  • The material is then fed into a Rotopactor for crushing the aggregates into sand to the desired grain size.
  • Finally, the process of screening, to remove dust particles and washing of sand for eliminating minute particles, is carried out.

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M sand vs river sand properties

M sand differs significantly in physical and mineralogical properties, as compared to river sand. Here are the main properties of manufactured sand:

  • The shape of this artificial sand is cube-like or angular.
  • It has a rough texture. Thus, it is preferred for making concrete.
  • The water absorption capacity of manufactured sand is 2% to 4%.
  • As it is artificially produced, there are no oversized particles.
  • There are lesser impurities in crushed sand compared to river sand.
  • The bulk density is 1.75 gm per cubic cm.
  • The specific gravity of manufactured sand is 2.5 to 2.9, depending on the parent rock.
  • Permissible limit of fines below 75 microns is up to 15%.
  • The controlled gradation of Zone-II is possible, making it ideal for concrete.

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M sand advantages

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High strength of concrete

Manufactured sand possesses the desired properties like shape, smooth texture and consistency and required gradation of fines. These qualities lend greater strength to the concrete structure.

Improved quality of concrete

Due to low impurities such as clay, dust, etc., the sand helps produce better quality concrete. Moreover, the use of manufactured sand reduces construction defects in concrete, such as segregation, bleeding, honeycombing, voids and capillarity.

Durability of concrete

Since the sand is produced using a selected quality of granite, it possesses the right physical and chemical properties for making concrete structures. Due to its unique properties, manufactured sand enables structures to withstand extreme weather conditions and prevents corrosion of reinforcement steel.

Better workability of concrete

Manufactured sand requires a lower water-to-cement ratio, thus, providing workable concrete. It improves the consistency of the concrete, increases the strength and requires less effort for mixing and placement of concrete, therefore, improving productivity.


Since there are no impurities, there is no wastage. Moreover, the cost of transportation of M sand is 30% to 50% lower than the transportation cost required for river sand.

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The use of manufactured sand eliminates the need for dredging of riverbeds for extracting river sand, which can have an adverse environmental impact, such as water depletion threat and impact on the safety of dams and bridges.

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Other advantages of M sand

  • Around 30% increase in masonry strength is achieved using manufactured sand.
  • Some studies prove that concrete made using M sand has 6% to 9% higher compressive strength and 12% to 15% higher flexural strength than river sand material of the same grade.

M sand: Disadvantages

  • The angular texture or flaky particles obtained from improper crushing may lead to increased water and cement requirements, thus making it unsuitable for concrete production.
  • Non-availability of adequate set up for crushers in some parts of the country, such as West Bengal, can be a problem, owing to the higher costs as compared to river sand.
  • The requirement of cement is higher as compared to river sand for high-grade pumpable concrete in high-rise structures, which may not be economical.

M sand types

Manufactured sand is classified into the following types:

  • M sand for concreting: This type of M sand is used in concrete. The granule thickness or the sieve size is 150 microns – 4.75 mm. It conforms to IS Code 383:1970.
  • M sand for plastering: This type of sand finds application in tiling and wall plastering purposes. The granule thickness or sieve size is 150 microns – 2.36 mm. It conforms to IS Code 1542: 1992.
  • M sand for brick or block work: This type of sand is mainly used for masonry or brick or block-laying works. The granule thickness or sieve size is 150 microns – 3.55 mm. It conforms to IS Code 2116: 1980.

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Difference between M sand and river sand

Factors M sand River sand


M sand is produced by crushing large aggregate pieces, rocks, or quarry stones in a quarry or factory River sand is a type of sand that is naturally available and extracted from riverbanks or riverbeds
Shape Angular or cubical Rounded
Texture Rough Smooth
Moisture content It has less or no moisture content There is a presence of moisture
Presence of marine products No 1% to 2% of seashells, tree barks, etc.
Dry density 1.75 kg per cubic m 1.44 kg per cubic m
Particle passing 75 micron Up to 15% (IS: 383 – 1970) Up to 3% (IS: 383 – 1970)
Specific gravity 2.73, depending on the parent rock 2.65, depending on the rocks in the catchment area
Adulteration Less impurities High impurities
Applications It is highly recommended for RCC work, brick work and block works, as compared to river sand. It is suitable for RCC work, brick work and block works.
Environmental impact Eco-friendly as compared to natural sand The use of river sand can reduce groundwater levels and lead to the drying up of river water.

M sand price in India

The cost of manufactured sand in a city like Bangalore is mentioned below:

Cost M Sand River sand
Market price Rs 600 to Rs 700 per metric ton Rs 1,200 per metric ton (approximately)
In concrete Rs 500 per cubic metre (approximately) Rs 900 per cubic metre (approximately)
In mortar (1:5) for 100 kgs Rs 160 (approximately) Rs 200 (approximately)

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M sand latest updates

The Tamil Nadu government is planning to draft a new policy for manufacturing artificial sand and regulate its sales. In January 2021, the state’s Public Works Department submitted the final draft of the M-sand policy to the government. The objective of the proposed policy, would be to promote the use of manufactured sand as an alternative construction material. Once the policy comes into effect, it will be mandatory for manufacturers to obtain approvals for the quality of material being used. It will also help in the regulation of the trade and keep a check on adulteration and violations of norms.


What is the full form of M sand?

The full form of M sand is manufactured sand.

Is river sand cheaper than M sand?

River sand is around 50% costlier than manufactured sand.

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Category: Lifestyle

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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