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do you use sand in your tufa mix???

16 years ago

Hi tufa fans! I'm sure this has been discussed here many times but I'm at loss as far as to what I would put in the search box without getting 400+ replies. Have 3 different recipes on hand and only one of them calls for sand. Also what difference does it make other being heavier?? "Is it still called tufa etc"? TIA -Wendy

Comments (16)

  • 16 years ago

    If 2 out of 3 don't use sand, then 66% of the recipes don't use sand. I don't use sand. Your choice, your call, and who cares if it is "called" HT or not? I mean - really? I am not sure what you are seeking??? How many opinions?

    My recipe: equal parts peat, perlite, portland cement
    pretty simple

    That is just MY opinion - my recipe.

    You will learn as you go and develop your own preferences based on your own experiences. I even tried using coffee instead of perlite. LMAO - won't do that again.

    Have fun doing whatever it is that you want to do, Wendy!!

  • 16 years ago

    I've never used sand. And, I don't intend to use sand. Why make something heavier when you don't have to. Wow, coffee instead of perlite. That's interesting. I guess if I were making stepping stones, I would want to use sand, just because it would make them sturdier...

  • 16 years ago

    thanks for the quick response here.
    wannadc,(and who cares if it is "called" HT or not? I mean - really?) No, it does not really matter to me, the reason I was asking; in June I will be attending a garden event where I and several other vendors will have small areas where we will sale our 'wares' so to speak, I mainly will have crete leaves a couple of spheres also a few 'tufa' pots, these small basins are made with a sand recipe, you know how it is there is always someone out there asking "what kinda pots are these? what did you use to make them?" and I don't want to call them Hypertufa pots if that's not what they really are. Like I said above it do-not make no difference to me. Being small they are still light enough to lift with the added sand Wendy

  • 16 years ago

    The sand adds alot of strength. I think 1/1/1 is overkill. that is cement/perlite/peat. that is a 1part cement to 2 parts other and cement is plenty strong with 5 parts other. Why not make it 1 1/2cement 2 perlite and 2 peat and 1 sand. IT would still be light.
    My latest batch was 2 cement/2 peat/3 perlite/2 sand and it is nice and light.
    There are many recipes that are 1 /1 1/2perlite/ 1 1/2 pea.
    I just hve to add the sand because it is here and I know what it does. My pots are heavy but by the time I get soil and plants in them they will be real heavy and in place.

  • 16 years ago

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Equal parts works for me. Whatever works for others is equally right and good.

  • 15 years ago

    Hi Elephantear

    There are several kinds of sand. Masons sand, play sand, river sand, beach sand, pit sand. If you decide to use sand the Mason sand is probably best because it is clean and it has nice "sharp" surfaces that bond well with cement. You can buy Mason sand at hardware stores in 80 pound bags for about $5. Beach sand with salt is definately out. If you were making a concrete mixture sand would probably be considered a good small partical size aggregate. With hypertufa, a lot of people report success without using sand. If you are making stuff for fun, I wouldn't worry about including sand. Sand is much heavier than peat or perlite.

  • 15 years ago

    Elephantear this is the short version.

    Hypertufa From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (edited)

    Hypertufa is an anthropic rock made from various aggregates bonded together using Portland cement.
    Basic recipe
    Using the classic proportions for mortar (1 part cement: 3 parts aggregate) hypertufa is composed of
    3 parts Portland cement - Type I
    4 parts peat
    5 parts perlite
    (3 parts cement: 9 parts aggregate) Â 1:3 ratio
    Other recipes may call for sand or gravel as aggregates, but they add unwanted weight without necessarily adding strength.

    Call them elephantcrete, you'll still have to explain the mix. h h h h


  • 15 years ago

    Are you the Wendy with the Webshot page and the unbelievable sphere's and leaf castings and that lantern? I left comments on how smooth the finish was.
    Is that you?????

  • 15 years ago

    Hypertufa name was used because the porous texture from the added peat moss made it similar to the natural tufa stone. Other organic materials, because they don't "set" in the concrete, can be used, pine needle, sawdust,grass, etc. Coffee grind too, but not to replace the perlite what is an aggregate. You can make a lightweight concrete 3-4 parts of perlite and 1 part of Portland.

    I use peatmoss because I like the surface and texture with it.

    Without peatmoss or other organic material it is a light concrete, not hypertufa, but everybody is using the Hypertufa name and why not. More important is the use, the hand made nature.

  • 15 years ago

    I agree with kobold - it's the peat and cement that makes this hypertufa. The aggregate can vary.

    I use sand for strength and because I like the way sugar sand sparkles. I like vermiculite more than perlite, both for texture and appearance.

    I've mostly heard sand & cement alone referred to as "sand cement" although technically it is a concrete. With steel mesh or chickenwire, it becomes ferrocement which has real structural strength (way overkill for a leaf). Add lime to sand cement and you get mortar.

    For leaves, sand cement is most suitable, to me, because the peat is porous and will rot out. For rustic pots, hypertufa is superior because it is more porous, especially if no latex or acrylic additives are used, which allows more air-water exchange.

  • 15 years ago

    I agree with with much of what was said above, but here is my spin on it: You can ask as many questions as you want, but you will only get satisfactory answers if you experiment and try many things yourself.
    I would not dismiss using anything in a mix. I have used cement, perlite, virmiculite, sand, bark, compost, potting soil, and coffee. Who knows what you might learn even if it is a failure. Sand does make pieces heavier and stronger, but that is not necessarily good or bad.
    I would like light weight pieces, but never have molded with weight as a prime concern. I always mold for appearance, and I keep looking fot the perfect result. Make a lot of small pieces using different molds and mixes, and I think many questions will be answered.
    Remember, how you finish of a piece has much to do with whether it looks good or bad regardless of the mix used.

  • 15 years ago

    I use 1/2 peatmoss and 1/2 play sand in my 'tufa, but that's just my preference. I like the coarse look.


  • 15 years ago

    Thanks so much for all the advice given here I do so appreciate this! What I did find out while making troughs is that two of my more larger troughs (that I made this spring) the ones without the added sand have developed a couple of small cracks BUT only around the tops? so I'm thinking either this top area dried out way too fast as I possible could have put these outside to soon? or without the sand they do not have the strength? who knows, anyways I will be using recipes with sand from now on. Thinking if those cracks do stay close to the top as they are now I do intend to fix with a little slurry of glue and cement-with a plant hanging over the repairs, who's to know except me...I don't intend to sell or give away as these are 2 of my favorites, just an update to this post! Wendy

    Here is a link that might be useful: Webshot

  • 15 years ago

    Hi everyone!
    I did post this (below)before, but thought I would do so again. Now with winter approaching was wondering if everyone is like me casting lots of leaves while we still have some??? I do so appreciate all the advice given here, and what I did find out while making my first hypertufa troughs is that two or more of my more larger troughs (that I made this spring) the ones without the added sand have developed a couple of 1" narrow cracks,close to the top? so I'm thinking either this top area dried out way too fast as I possible could have put these outside to soon? or without the sand they do not have the strength? who knows, any ways I will be using recipes with sand from now on, I'm thinking if these cracks do stay close to the top as they are now, I could just leave as is and hope they won't spread further? or I could fix with a little slurry of glue and cement- plus with a plant hanging over the tops, who's to know except me, as I wouldn't sell or give away as I like them in spite of this-just hope it don't happen again.
    This forum has gone soooo very quite lately? Wendy

    Here is a link that might be useful: Webshot

    Here is a link that might be useful: Webshots

  • 15 years ago

    Thought I was re-posting this in a new thread-Sorry-it's been a long day! Wendy

  • 3 years ago

    This is the deal... sand adds strength and it will last double the length of time over those made with just sphagnum peat Moss, vermiculite, or perlite, or even coir (coconut coir - the stuffing type stuff, string like, not the potting mix type). I have had sand ones last 20-30 years sitting outside. Note - I used a penetrating (not a film) sealer on mine (in any cement) to prevent freezing and thawing - you spray after final uncovering before letting them sit for 6-8 months outside. After the soaking, I will spray again, let dry a few days before putting soil in. They need to sit outside to stay damp. All of those items do well but they breakdown over time causing weakness and the more porous, the more vigorous roots can get in the crevices, push through, and cause it to eventually crumble. I have used the perlite, peat Moss, portland cement and if properly cured (cover with heavy plastic until time to unmold, then keeping for 1-2 weeks staying damp (daily misting) under plastic in the shade, then uncovering, putting in the shade and spraying 1-2x daily if the temps are above 85-90+F, just 1x day if under that, let them cure and strengthen for 6-8 months outside before doing a 3 day soak changing the water daily) before using. The soak and daily change is to get rid of the excess lime. Use a pH meter (cheap) or test strips and keep changing until the water gets down around 7-8 or let sit outside for another 4-6 months — you can decorate with them around your porch or only plant something really alkaline loving. But it’s best for long life not to plant in them for the first 6-8 months just staying damp and in the shade. Most plants like 5.5-6.5, a few like snaps, beans, asparagus, alpines, carnations, lilacs, etc like 6.5-7.5. Nothing likes over 8 and it will leach into the potting mix. Your potting mixes will be initially charged with lime to be 5.5-6.5 depending on the manufacturer but that leaches out in about 6-8+ months if outside. Concrete or cement has a pH of 12-13 and will leach into the potting mix or into the water of a bird bath. That is highly corrosive and not good for anything, and it will easily eat through paint. I like the ones with peat Moss, perlite etc, don’t get me wrong - because I can make them look older and I always use grey portland - white looks too unnatural. If I have to use white, I use grey concrete dye. If I use sand which it’s been 40 years since I made and sold them... I use also concrete dyes non toxic cause I like it to be grey and brown looking. And maybe use some of the other things like the coir to add texture and also some strength. The coir you can cut up with shears too to make smaller pieces and singe later if peeking out or just let alone. True coconut coir fiber (it’s from between the outer and inner shells..’s not coco peat) is used to make rugs/sleeping mats, mattress stuffing, ship rigging and ropes or for fishing nets. I don’t know if it would be stronger than the synthetic fibers but it would be natural. Not sure where to get small amounts but from mature coconuts it’s very strong. Read and a picture in the following

    If you have done 6 months (over the winter is best - it also helps you not to get impatient and use too quickly, make in mid to late summer, go through the steps and have the uncovered time from say Sept-May. But if the pH is still high, and you don’t want to wait anymore time - use artificial plants (some are pretty believable) or plant Lily of the Valley
    Viper’s Bugloss
    Trifolium (clovers)
    Wild marjoram
    California Poppies

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