Understanding rock and gravel grades and uses

Understanding rock and gravel grades and uses

Crushed rock and gravel can be used for many different projects—from driveway construction to erosion control to decorative mulch.

Common sizes

You will need different sizes of crushed stone depending on your project.

  • Larger pieces, of say 2½ inches or more, can be used for erosion control and can also work well as decorative stone cover.
  • Crushed stone between 1 and 2½ inches is often used in construction, for instance, to make cement or control mud.
  • Rock that’s 3/4–1 inch can replace a traditional lawn or be used as an edging material or to call attention to water features. It’s the most popular size for homeowners and is typically available in many colors.
  • At the 1/4–3/8 inch size, crushed rock can be walked on and driven over, so it may be used in pathways or driveways. You can also use it as mulch around plants. Unlike traditional mulch, such as wood chips, it won’t decay or draw pests.
  • Crushed rock that’s smaller than 1/4 inch can be used to improve traction on icy surfaces and to fill in the spaces between larger stones.

Crushed rock comes in different grades depending on the percentage of “fines” in the mix. Fines are any bits of rock smaller than the size indicated. So for 3/4-inch rock, for instance, fines would mean anything less than 3/4 inch all the way down to dust.

Grades of material

These are the grades you’ll typically see:

  • Minus: This grade can contain up to 80% fines.
  • Screened: This means some of the fines have been sifted out, leaving perhaps 20%–40% fines in the batch.
  • Sized. This grade should have no more than 15% fines.
  • Washed. These rocks are usually a pretty uniform size because they’ve been washed to remove the fines.

Crushed rock costs

Costs for rock can vary widely depending on the type of material you’re using and how much you’re purchasing.

One survey of suppliers around the country found prices ranged from $27.50 per ton for basic crushed stone (when purchased in a large quantity of 23 tons or more) to as much as $64.20 per ton for white marble crushed stone.

MDI Rock supplies a wide range of products for all sorts of uses at competitive prices. If you’re not sure what kind of rock you need or how much, we’re happy to give you our expert advice based on 30 years of experience. We carry over 50 colors of decorative groundcover as well as rip rap, flagstone, topsoil, sand, gravel, and a huge selection of boulders. 

Call us at 602-569-8722 or contact us online. We deliver anywhere from across the street to across the country!