Concrete vs Cement [ What’s The Difference? ]

Concrete vs Cement

How Are Concrete And Cement Really Different?

Whether you are thinking about getting a new driveway or pouring a backyard patio, there is a good chance that you have heard the terms concrete and cement used interchangeably. While most individuals think that cement and concrete are the same things, they are not. Cement is one of the ingredients that make up the formula of concrete.

On the other hand, concrete is the whole mixture of aggregates and pastes. When you hear the term aggregates you should think of the gravels or crushed stone that can be found in all concrete, whereas the paste would simply be the water and cement. Concrete has become extremely popular over the years, as it not only looks great, but it actually gets stronger as it ages. Concrete is actually made up of 10 to 15 percent of cement by volume.

This is actually accomplished through a process known as hydration. During this process, the cement and water will harden, while binding together with the aggregates. The unique thing about this specific mixture is that the concrete will just continue to harden for years and get stronger as it ages. Now, you know that the next time you hear the term cement, this is just referring to one of the ingredients in concrete. If you ever hear someone say cement sidewalk or cement mixer, they probably don’t know exactly what they are talking about, as the proper terms should be a concrete sidewalk or concrete mixer.

What is Concrete

Concrete contains a variety of aggregates and paste. Aggregates, such as crushed stone, sand, and gravel, are utilized to give the concrete strength. The paste combines these aggregates together, creating a solid rock-like mass.
The great benefit of concrete is it very diverse, which means it can be utilized for a broad array of applications. Its high strength and durability rating makes it ideal for constructing bridges, skyscrapers, highways, dams, driveways, and playgrounds.

If applied and installed correctly, concrete can be molded into just about any shape. In fact, it is often the material of choice for constructing statues and other large structures.
To prevent weathering of concrete surfaces, it is important to apply an epoxy sealer once the concrete is completely dry. The sealer will prevent moisture and water from penetrating the surface of the concrete, which causes permanent damage.

Where to buy Concrete

The concrete mixture is available at building material supply and big box stores throughout the world. It is also available in a premixed formula, which is more expensive than the dry formula because it does not require any measuring or mixing.

Mixing Concrete

One of the biggest mistakes people make when tasking a DIY concrete project is mixing errors. Adding the inappropriate amount of water will result in the weak concrete. When tasking a DIY concrete project, it is crucial to invest in a container that is calibrated to ensure proper measurements of water and powdered concrete.
At the end of the day, the overall texture of the concrete really depends on the quality of paste in the concrete. However, the strength of the paste really depends on the water ratio. For instance, if you mix too much water the overall mixture might come out softer than expected. If you don’t add enough water, the mixture will come out harder and probably be more difficult to apply.

Besides cement, concrete will contain a variety of other different materials. Within concrete, you will find fly ash, ground slag, and silica fume. Fly ash is pretty much nothing more than a byproduct that is produced from coal burning power plants. Ground slag is another byproduct that is commonly found in steel and iron manufacturing plants. Silica fumes is a waste byproduct that comes from silicon. While a lot of these products sound like they should be disposed of in a landfill, you might be surprised to learn that the concrete industry still utilizes these materials. In fact, these very materials that are not only responsible for the hydration reaction, but they actually give the concrete its strength.

Additional Ingredients

It is absolutely vital to make sure that concrete aggregates are chosen carefully. When it comes to the total volume of concrete, aggregates will make up roughly 60 to 70%. Choosing the right type and size of aggregate really depends on a handful of factors, including the purpose and thickness of the finished product. When working with thin building sections, it will often be possible to use much smaller and coarser aggregates. When working on bigger projects, it is often best to stick with bigger materials. For instance, six inch aggregates have often been used when constructing large dams. It is also vital to ensure that there is a constant gradation of sizes to ensure that the paste will be easy to use.

When selecting aggregates, it is vital to choose ones that are clean. They should be free of materials that could potentially impact the quality of the final product.

Aggregate Options

It should be known that there are many different types of aggregate to choose from. Some of the most common concrete aggregates include crushed stone, gravel, sand, and slag. It is even possible to used recycled concrete for this specific purpose. Geosynthetic aggregates are also available. While aggregate is important, it is actually different from concrete. It actually behaves like a reinforcement and helps to give the concrete more strength. To ensure that your concrete is going to last as long as humanly possible, it is pertinent to choose the right aggregate. Otherwise, you’re going to regret it in the near future.


Choosing water shouldn’t be too difficult. As long as the water is drinkable and it doesn’t have an abnormal odor or taste, it should be suitable for this specific purpose. It may also be possible to use waters that are not suitable for drinking. If the water has a lot of impurities, you’re going to experience problems in the long run. Impurities with the water you choose could eventually impact the concrete’s durability and longevity.
It may also have an impact on efflorescence. Limits have actually been put in place to restrict the quantity of sulfates, solids, alkalis, and chlorides found in the water. Be cautious and make sure that you have all of the right ingredients before moving forward.

Water And Cement Ratio

It is also important to make sure that you get the right ratio of water and cement. Too little or too much water is going to cause various problems. The ratio really depends on the environment. In colder climates, the concrete is going to be exposed to thawing and freezing, you should stick with a maximum of .50. If the concrete will experience severe sulfate conditions, it is best to keep the maximum at .45. If the water cement ratio exceeds .50, the concrete’s water permeability will increase significantly. Make sure that your water to cement ratio is right on target.



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