Calculating Cubic Yards vs. Tons

Purchasing Material by CY vs TON, and how they Compare

Here at Gorham Sand & Gravel we often get questions relating to purchasing material by the cubic yard versus purchasing material by ton and how the rates compare. It is important when pricing material that you understand the difference to ensure you are getting the best bang for the buck.

For someone who is not brushed up on their units, note the following:

1. A cubic yard is a measurement by volume (Or most simply put, a measurement by size)                             

2. A ton is a measurement by weight.                                                                                                                                          

    3. A “/” sign means ‘per,’ so 1.5 TONS/CY reads 1.5 TONS per Cubic yard which simply means there are 1.5 tons per (for) every cubic yard of material.

Fortunately, a cubic yard of material has a conversion factor (unit weight) so a cubic yard can easily be converted to a ton or vice versa.

Here in Southern Maine, the following unit weights can be used for rough conversion calculation:

1 CY of Sand weighs approx. 1.3 TONS (1.3TONS/CY)                                                                                                    

1 CY of DOT Gravel weighs approx. 1.4 TONS (1.4 TONS/CY)                                                                              

1 CY of Stone weighs approx. 1.5 TONS (1.5 TONS/CY)

                (Note that there is more material in a 1 CY vs a 1 TON)

Quantity Example:

Quote: 10 CY of Sand                                                                                                                                          = 10 CY * 1.3 TONS/Cubic Yard = 13 TONS of Sand.                                                                               

                Or backwards

13 TONS of Sand = 13 TONS ÷ 1.3TONS/CY = 10CY of Sand

Unit Cost Example:

Quote: Sand @ $10/TON                                                                                 

= $10/TON *1.3 TONS/CY = $13/CY

 or backwards

Quote: Sand @ $13/CY                                                                                                                                     =  $13/CY ÷ 1.3TONS/CY = $10/TON

For help quantifying how much material is needed, see blog post “How to Calculate how much material I need.”