In this paper, two-phase flow simulations of oscillatory sheet flow experimental configurations involving medium and fine sand using a turbulence-resolving two-fluid model are presented. The turbulence-resolving two-phase flow model reproduces the differences of behaviour observed between medium and fine sand whereas turbulence-averaged models require an almost systematic tuning of empirical model coefficients for turbulence–particle interactions. The two-fluid model explicitly resolves these interactions and can be used to study in detail the differences observed experimentally. Detailed analysis of concentration profiles, flow hydrodynamics, turbulent statistics and vertical mass balance allowed the confirmation that unsteady effects, namely phase-lag effect and enhanced boundary layer thickness, for fine sand are not only due to the small settling velocity of the particles relative to the wave period. The occurrence and intensity of unsteady effects are also affected by a complex interplay between flow instabilities, strong solid-phase Reynolds stress and turbulence attenuation caused by the presence of the particles.