Differences Between Concrete and Cement

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The words “cement” and “concrete” are often used interchangeably due to their perceived similarities. Both play vital and important roles in construction, but there are distinguishable differences. If you, like most people, have been under the assumption that concrete and cement are interchangeable words, we are here to clear up the differences! In this post, we talk about the distinguishable differences between concrete and cement and what uses are utilized for each substance.


What Is Cement?


To begin with, we are going to rewind a bit and speak to the definition of cement.The word cement refers to any kind of binder that tightly holds other materials together. While cement binds concrete, it’s not concrete itself. The magic happens when water is added! At that point, cement turns into a paste that fastens all elements together. 


Uses for Cement


Now that we have identified the difference between cement and concrete, let’s talk about common uses for cement. Cement is used in mortar, concrete, and to plaster and grout masonry. However, bonding agents such as cement are never used on their own. Cement on its own is weak. This is because when it hardens, it can crack, making it ineffective. 


What Is Cement Made Of?


Now that we’ve uncovered what cement is and its uses, we will now address what cement is made of. In short, cement is composed of shale, marl, chalk, clay, sand, iron ore, and bauxite materials. All of these materials are extracted from limestone. When thinking back to our statement that, “cement on its own is weak,” this makes sense seeing as it originates from limestone. 


How Is Cement Made?


Lastly, in regards to cement, we will briefly cover how it’s made. Cement is manufactured by heating crushed materials to approximately 1,500°C and grinding the resulting product into a fine powder. The powder is packaged and ready for water activation when required.


What Is Concrete?


Now that we have covered the essential bases as it relates to cement, we will now speak about concrete, including what exactly it is and its uses. Concrete is a long-lasting building material that’s often used in the construction industry. It is a structural material that contains hard substances that are not pliable. The substances that make up concrete are commonly referred to as aggregate which is bonded together by cement and water. The biggest reason why it gets confused with cement is because it uses cement as one of its primary components.


Uses for Concrete


Concrete is the world’s most frequently used man-made material. Its immense strength and longevity are the reasons why concrete is utilized in many outdoor spaces, from buildings to curbs, bridges, foundations, slabs, patios, drains, and masonry. While you’re likely excited to see the finished product, it’s imperative that you not let the concrete dry too quickly. This can be achieved by letting it cure, which means it is left damp for some time after the concrete is poured. However, it is equally important to let concrete set before using it to ensure it achieves a perfectly hardened state. 


What Is Concrete Made Of?


Concrete consists of both a solid and a chemical substance (aggregate) which is completely rigid. Concrete is a mixture of materials like sand, gravel, and small rocks combined with cement. These aggregates are mixed with water to form a concoction. This method is a chemical reaction called hydration. Concrete is a stone-like structure formed after cement and other materials are mixed together and then hardened.


How Is Concrete Made?


As discussed above, concrete is made via a chemical reaction. It’s important to note that concrete is characterized by the type of aggregate used as well as the specific quantities of each that are used to produce it. Creating an optimized concrete mix is referred to as mix design. Five major components that a concrete contractor must take into account when composing a mix are strength, workability, density, persistence, and appearance. Did you know that the strength of concrete is measured in pounds? The strength of concrete and ultimately vary based on the environment it’s in (i.e. humid or dry). Perfect flexibility is needed for the mold it’s going into, and then it sets rock-hard.


If you or your business is interested in our concrete services, we invite you to contact us today! We are always excited to work on new projects and show you how our work is a step above the others.