Concrete and Cement: What’s the Difference?
To the average person, cement and concrete are both interchangeable grey slabs. However, if you’re about to take on a home improvement project or major repair, there are important distinctions between the two materials you’ll need to know. Here’s a quick guide to some of the key differences between concrete and cement, and how to choose the right product for your renovation.
Cement is a fine grey powder that binds materials together. It is an ingredient in concrete, which also contains aggregate materials – such as sand, slag, gravel and other crushed rock – and water. Cement is also a key ingredient in mortar, the paste used by bricklayers to fill gaps and hold stones in place.
Types of Cement
Portland cement is the most common cement on the market today. It is a type of hydraulic cement, which means it requires water to set and harden. This is contrasted with non-hydraulic cements, which react with carbon dioxide in the air to set as they dry. While non-hydraulic cements are nominally less expensive, Portland and other hydraulic cements remain affordable due to the low cost of limestone – a key ingredient – and are generally preferred as they are easier to work with.
Types of Concrete
Concrete is one of the most widely used building materials in the world, in part because of its flexibility. By varying the amount of cement and the type of aggregates used, it is possible to control properties such as hardness and setting, as well as physical characteristics such as color. As a result, concrete can be adapted to meet the needs of a variety of different projects. The term mix design refers to the process of determining the best concrete recipe for a given application.
Buying Concrete for Your Project
Because the two terms are often used interchangeably, the difference between concrete and cement is basically trivial in everyday conversation. However, if you are planning a renovation or other project, knowing the technical distinction between the two is essential. For DIY applications, concrete mixing is almost always done by professionals. If you were to order cement by mistake, you wouldn’t have the resources or tools available to make a workable finished product.
When buying concrete, you can specify which type of cement you want to use, but it’s best to speak with a professional directly who can advise on the right mix design for your needs.
In central Pennsylvania, Marstellar Oil and Concrete can help. We offer ready-mix concrete delivery to homes and jobsites throughout the region, and can provide expert advice about choosing the right material for your project and your budget.
Compare our concrete and cement pricing to the competition and you’ll see why we’re the leading choice of professionals and DIY home renovation enthusiasts alike. Call or email our office today for assistance.