What is the Difference Between Concrete and Cement?

You’ve heard the words concrete and cement your entire life, and you know they have something to do with paving, but what are the real differences between concrete and cement? Are they the same thing? To make sure you don’t accidentally screw up your next paving project let’s learn the differences between concrete and cement including what they are and what tasks they’re used for.

Learning What is the Difference Between Concrete and Cement

The terms concrete and cement are seemingly used interchangeably and while both are important for paving, they are two separate materials. The reason they’re used together so often is that cement is one of concrete’s primary ingredients.

To cut through confusion quickly remember that cement is only an ingredient of concrete. There’s no such thing as cement trucks or cement mixers, they are concrete trucks and concrete mixers.

What is the Difference Between Concrete and Cement?

What is Cement?

Cement has been utilized as a building material for thousands of years. Modern cement, known as Portland cement, is manufactured from limestone or clay. Cement acts as a binder that allows sand and aggregate to stick to each other to create structures or pavement.

When Portland cement mixes with water it undergoes a chemical reaction that allows it to set. This chemical reaction is why concrete doesn’t dry – it cures. Because of this chemical reaction cement and concrete can be installed virtually anywhere, even underwater.

What is Concrete?

Concrete is a combination of aggregate like rocks, sand, and cement. When water is mixed with the concrete mixture the cement transforms into a paste to bind the aggregate and other materials together in a uniform fashion. This proper combination of cement, aggregate, and other materials makes the modern concrete used in today’s construction.

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When Do You Use Cement?

Cement is primarily used as the bonding agent for concrete but can also be utilized for small repairs or to fix minor concrete issues. You can see cement used in grout work and some forms of specialized masonry repair, but its primary job is turning an aggregate mix into concrete.

When Do You Use Concrete?

While cement on its own can begin crumbling after a couple decades, concrete will last several decades. Concrete’s longevity and toughness give it versatility unlike any other modern building material. You can find concrete used in support pillars for the world’s skyscrapers or for the countertops in your kitchen. If you’re referring to construction, you’re almost always referring to concrete, not cement.

Is Cement or Concrete Stronger?

Concrete is stronger than cement hands down. There’s a reason cement is only used for small projects and repairs while concrete is used for foundations for the world’s biggest structures. If you’re looking for longevity and strength, you’re looking for concrete.

Finding the Right Type of Concrete

By now you know that cement is useful as a binder in concrete, but you need the full mix of concrete for a great paving job. There are several different types of concrete that utilize different ratios of aggregate and cement, and which type of formulation is best depends on the type of project, your local climate, and much more.

It’s not recommended to guess which type of concrete you need but to talk to a professional paving company. A professional paving company can look over the scope of your project and its intent, make recommendations on the type of concrete to use, and perfectly pour your project.

Using Concrete or Cement for Your Next Project

If you have an upcoming paving project or need some strong DIY materials, you need concrete. To learn more differences between concrete and cement talk to your local paving contractor to get help choosing the right type of concrete for your project, whether it’s a residential driveway or a homes foundation.

Cement is an important element of concrete but ultimately it’s concrete, not cement, that has shaped our modern world.