What Is The Difference Between Cement And Concrete?

June 8, 2020

Cement and concrete, two terms commonly used interchangeably, but never mean the same thing. Ah! Wait, could it be a case of mistaken identities? Maybe they perform the same role? Or you are just not sure after all. The two terms are confusing, but you do not have to worry because you are not alone. 

Here, we explain the differences between these two materials to help clear all doubts regarding their applications. We struck a conversation up with the owner of a Newport Beach concrete company and got the answers some people are looking for.   

What Is Cement?

Cement is a vital part of the modern infrastructure that binds to different building units to give the required look and strength. Generally, cement is a fine powder that consists of limestone, bauxite, and sand or clay. What’s more, it may contain slate, chalk, shells, clay, and marl, among other ingredients. 

During its production, the raw materials are heated to obtain a hard substance, which is then crushed to give the smooth, fine powder sold in shops. It is the subsequent reaction from its contact with water that gives a paste that’s widely used in construction sites. 

What Is Concrete?

Concrete is a popular construction material that is made up of coarse ingredients, fine aggregates, cement, and water for construction purposes. For any building project, concrete would be ideal for laying the foundation, creating slabs, concrete driveways, columns, and beams, among other structures. Owing to its property, concrete can be created in different shapes and sizes to ensure the homeowner gets exactly what they need. 

Is There Cement In Concrete? Or Concrete In Cement?

Perhaps this is one of the reasons these materials are always confusing. A mixture of cement and water gives a paste. Now, when this paste is mixed with other aggregates such as sand, gravel, and water, it gives concrete. So, yes! Concrete contains cement.

Cement vs. Concrete. How Do They Compare?

So, having looked at the initial definitions, it is important to understand how the two materials compare. Where can we apply cement, for instance? Is concrete good for large projects? Here is what the experts say. 

  1. Concrete is great for large projects.

Concrete is one of the most popular construction materials today, and its widespread role extends beyond residential properties. Today, concrete is used to construct bridges, schools, sidewalks, fireplaces, among other marvelous structures. 

Besides, homeowners still use it for many DIY projects, including edging landscapes, building countertops, and walkways. Cement, on the other hand, is commonly used for smaller projects such as completing specific masonry tasks and repairing cracked structures. This is one of the obvious differences between concrete and cement. 

  1. Concrete comes in multiple options.

Different companies and online stores offer tons of options regarding concrete selection. Each concrete type has been designed to satisfy specific needs, and a few popular choices include plain concrete, normal strength concrete, and high strength concrete, to mention just a few. Choosing the best option from this category can be confusing. So, it is important to seek expert advice before shopping for your project. 

  1. Concrete is more durable.

Well, for any concrete material, durability is an important aspect of figuring out before making your purchase. Luckily, concrete is also one of the most durable materials in the market. Yes! Cement is good for construction, but always remember that it is found in concrete. So, concrete is a more durable option that will last for many decades after installation. 

Do They Serve The Same Purpose?

Maybe yes. Maybe no. The bottom line is that both materials are used in the building and construction sector and have unique attributes and applications.  

The durability and strength provided by concrete have made it one of the world’s most popular construction materials. Here are a few applications of concrete in today’s construction industry:

  • Constructing dams
  • Used in residential buildings
  • Constructing commercial buildings
  • Building roads and railways
  • Used in marine construction
  • Building sewers and culverts
  • Laying the foundations for buildings
  • Erecting fences
  • Creating concrete bridges

Uses Of Cement

As already mentioned, cement is an important binding material that is found in concrete. Its property, applications, and unique features have made it a popular construction material across different industries. Here are a few popular applications of cement:

  • Important in masonry, plastering, and pointing projects
  • Creating joints for pipes and drains
  • Can be used in concrete when constructing floors, stairs, roofs, and pillars
  • Building several structures including culverts, tunnels, dams, and bridges among the rest
  • Used when preparing foundations for construction projects
  • Useful when constructing roads, tennis courts, water tanks, lamp posts, and wells

Should You Use Cement Or Concrete?

As you can see, both concrete and cement perform practically the same function. At the end of the day, you want something that will suit your needs and at least give your structure a whole new look without breaking your wallet. 

For smaller projects, cement is a nice option. However, if you work on a large project, with adequate space and budget, concrete is one of the best materials to fulfill your construction needs. 

While concrete will give you the much-needed durability and flexibility when completing your next construction project, cement is a smart option when working on smaller projects, and other construction materials are also involved. So, go for what will work best in your zone and environment and suit your budget.

Conclusion

Cement vs. concrete is an exciting debate which probably, will never end. In recent years, it has only become bigger. In many setups, concrete is often confused with cement, owing to the similar characteristics they possess. Knowing the slightest details of the two construction materials is the first step when building a grand outside space with all the required structures in place. From history to composition, and applications, these materials are useful in different ways. So, whenever you are tackling a construction project, ensure you understand your needs and the right terms when consulting a construction expert. If you are unsure which material to go for, consider expert assistance to help you sieve through your options, and get what you deserve.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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