Aggregate allows you to tackle a wide range of construction, engineering, agriculture, and landscaping issues. They come in a surprisingly wide range of types, though, and that can make it hard when you're looking at aggregate for sale. However, you should understand some of the basic factors that differentiate the available products.
In the broadest possible sense, aggregates break up into three groups based on their sources. These are natural, crushed, and artificial products.
A natural aggregate is a material that requires little to no processing. River sand, for example, has largely been processed by thousands of years of pounding by wind and water. Companies recover the materials directly from nature, and they filter or wash them a bit to prepare them for sale.
Crushed aggregates are still natural products. The big difference is that someone has mined or quarried the materials and then crushed them. Most large stone aggregates fit into this category.
Finally, there are artificial products. Many common construction materials can become aggregates. The simplest is crushing concrete the same way you would crush stone. There are also ways to use clays, cinders, slag, and ash. Similarly, iron sometimes appears in artificial products.
Aggregates fall into two categories based on refinement. You have coarse materials, and these are defined as ones that won't pass through a 3/8 inch sieve. Anything that could pass through is deemed a fine aggregate.
You can also classify aggregate materials based on shape. Rounded materials are things like river rocks. Most crushed materials are considered angular unless they've been artificially rounded. There are also flaky aggregates that are long and thin. Finally, there are irregular products.
How you use the aggregate matters, too. Topsoil is the term people use for materials that allow sufficient water permeation for farming or gardening. It usually includes a mixture of sand and either soil or compost. Labels express these in terms of ratios like 70/30 or 50/50.
MOT is a material used for creating bases. The acronym stands for Ministry of Transport, and it refers to long-established UK standards that are frequently in use elsewhere in the world. Type 1 MOT works best for fills, while Type 2 is for subbases. Type 3 is the coarsest material with little to no fine aggregate. It is for applications where fine materials could limit drainage.
Finally, you have ballast. It is a crushed stone product ideal for heavy-duty applications like gravel roads, driveways, and parking areas.
Contact a local aggregate supplier to learn more.