Concrete VS Cement [Difference, Uses, Mixing And Tips]

Concrete Vs Cement

Concrete and cement are two terms that are frequently used in the construction industry. Many people believe that the terms are interchangeable. This actually isn’t the truth. In reality, concrete and cement are two completely different things. So, what is the big difference between concrete and cement? Within this in-depth guide, you’re going to learn all about both materials and the differences that set them apart from one another.

What Is Cement

First and foremost, you should learn a little more about cement. What is it exactly? Well, cement is a substance that is made with clay and calcined lime. It is utilized as a binder in construction projects and many other situations. The cement is capable of hardening and adhering to other materials. While it is possible, cement is almost never used on its own. Instead, the material is often used to bind gravel and sand together. It should be noted that cement is a vital component of concrete.
Without cement, it would be impossible to have concrete.

What Is Concrete

Concrete is a mixture of materials. Cement just happens to be one of the most important materials in the equation. Concrete has been around for generations. In fact, it was used by the Romans. Concrete is made with four basic ingredients. The ingredients include water, fine aggregate, coarse aggregate, and cement. It is also possible to add a special additive to the mixture. This can alter the concrete’s properties and even improve its durability. Again, it is impossible to made concrete without cement.
Most of the time, Portland cement is used to create the concrete.

What Is Aggregate In Concrete?

Again, there are many different materials utilized in the creation of concrete. Cement is one of the most important. At the same time, it is important to use aggregate. This is a material that is mixed with the cement. The aggregate is very important because it is responsible for making the concrete strong, hard and very durable. To ensure that the concrete is going to last, it is vital to choose the right type of aggregate. The professional will select the aggregate based on the conditions of the job at hand.
It is always best to use strong aggregate. Otherwise, the material will cause the concrete to weaken. That can lead to significant problems in the future.

Types Of Concrete Aggregate

There are two categories of aggregates. You have fine and coarse aggregates. Fine aggregates will typically be smaller than 3/8ths of an inch. Coarse aggregates are more than .19 inches in diameter. Below, you will learn more about the different materials that are commonly used as concrete aggregate.

  • Crushed Stone. It is very common for the crushed stone to be used as a concrete aggregate. It is actually the coarsest aggregate of all. Crushed stone is not good for all situations. Instead, it is best used when there is no need to have precise ratios of aggregate to cement.
  • Sand. Sand is another common aggregate. It happens to be the finest. There are various gradations of sand. Each one will vary in terms of coarseness. It is possible to use coarser sands for concrete mixes. However, much finer sands should only be used for grouts and mortars.
  • Gravel. Finally, you have gravel. If you head down to your local hardware store and buy a bag of concrete mix, there is a pretty good chance that it will contain gravel aggregate. Gravel works well in many situations.

How Are Aggregates Made

Now that you’ve learned about the different types of aggregates, you should figure out how they’re made. The truth of the matter is that aggregates can be sourced using multiple methods. Gravel and sand are usually acquired from bodies of water. After all, these natural aggregates can be naturally found in these locations. Crushed aggregate needs to be manufactured. To create these types of aggregates, manufacturers will take large stones and crush them up.

It is also possible to recycle old concrete and use it to create an aggregate for new concrete. Once the concrete aggregate has been crushed, it will be washed. Then, it should be suitable for use. It is important that the aggregate is stored correctly. Otherwise, it could experience corruption and degradation.

Concrete Uses

Concrete is really one of the most versatile materials on the planet. It can be used for an abundance of purposes. Pretty much everyone has encountered concrete at some point or another. In fact, the material is often taken for granted. Below, you’re going to learn more about the various uses of concrete.

  • Driveways Pretty much everyone has a driveway. If you’re lucky, your driveway will be concrete. Concrete is very durable and it can handle the traffic that is going to be thrown its way. In many cases, a concrete driveway will remain in good condition for 30 years or even longer. Another great thing about having a concrete driveway is that it can be completely maintenance free. As long as the right concrete is used, you will never have to worry about sealing it every year. You can also use additives to enhance the concrete’s appearance and make it look great in front of your home.
  • Basements It is also possible to create basements using concrete. The basement is a really great addition to any home. In fact, it can be very economic. With a concrete basement, you’ll receive a wealth of benefits. The basement can easily be used as a spare bedroom. You can also use it as a game room or den. The possibilities are really endless. You’ll also be happy to know that concrete is one of the toughest materials out there. You’ll never have to worry about it burning or rotting. Finally, you can always use your basement as a storm shelter.
  • Sidewalks You can also use concrete to create beautiful sidewalks. Again, the concrete can be altered using additives. This gives you the ability to change the concrete’s appearance. You can choose a color that you prefer and that will make a gorgeous sidewalk for your home.
  • Patios A lot of people prefer wood patios. However, concrete is just as good. In fact, concrete offers many perks that will not be available with wood. For instance, the concrete will be much more durable and you won’t have to worry about it burning or rotting. If you want a patio that is going to last a lifetime, you’ll definitely want to stick with concrete.
  • Concrete Homes It is also possible to create homes using concrete. This offers plenty of perks. Homes with concrete walls tend to be much more efficient than the alternatives. They’re also more resistant to the wind and they can block out a lot of noise. It is also great that concrete can be recycled. That makes it an eco-friendlier option that many of the alternatives. If you’re going to be living in an area that has a lot of tornadoes and high winds, you’ll definitely want to live in a concrete home!
  • Roads And Highways If you live in the United States, you can almost guarantee that you’ve seen concrete roads and highways. After all, it is estimated that approximately 60% of the roadways in the United States are made with concrete. Concrete pavement is capable of providing consumers with use for 20 to 30 years without requiring major repairs. This is not the case with asphalt. Asphalt often needs repairs in 8 years or so. On top of that, concrete is capable of supporting much heavier loads.
    In fact, concrete can easily support the weight of heavier vehicles like jumbo jets.
  • Parking Lots It is very common to find parking areas that have been constructed from concrete. The parking lot outside of your local Wal-Mart will most likely feature concrete. You can also find bigger parking areas with concrete. This includes multi-level parking structures. Concrete is tough and capable of withstanding the test of time and this is why it is so commonly used for these purposes.

Protecting New Concrete

Concrete is definitely one of the toughest construction materials out there. However, you need to realize that it Is not going to be durable in the beginning. In order for the concrete to get tough and rugged, you have to wait and let it cure thoroughly. This is why you’ll need to take steps to protect the new concrete. Thankfully, it doesn’t take a lot of effort on your end to protect the concrete. All you need to do is use a concrete sealer. Make sure that the sealer is designed for concrete that has not fully cured just yet. The sealer will protect the concrete from an abundance of problems.

For instance, it will help prevent pitting, cracking and deterioration. At the same time, the concrete sealer will help prevent the development of mold and mildew. When looking for a concrete sealer, you will find that there are two types that can be added to new concrete. You can find Cure N Seal products. These sealers are going to protect the concrete and they’ll leave behind a protective gloss layer. You can also use a basic sealer.

These products will protect the concrete, but they will not create a film or coating. So, which sealer is right for you? Well, it depends on several factors including your budget. You’ll also need to figure out what you want the concrete to look like in the future. If you’re not familiar with these products, you’ll definitely want to speak with a professional. They’ll be able to help you figure out precisely which type of protective sealer is going to work best for you.

Average Cost Of Concrete

One of the reasons that concrete is so popular is the fact that the material is so inexpensive. In fact, most people won’t have any trouble whatsoever buying concrete for their basement, patio or driveway. Just remember that the price can vary significantly based on your area and the company that you choose. It is estimated that the average cost of concrete per cubic yard is right around $108. The price for pouring the concrete also varies.

On average, you will pay anywhere from $8 to $18 per square foot to have concrete poured. Just remember that the price is going to vary based on its quality. It is also possible to add patterns to stamped concrete. This too can increase the price to some degree. Before trying to complete your project, you should sit down with a calculator and figure out the final costs. This can make a big difference and it will ensure that you get the highest quality concrete for the best price. Also, be sure to shop around a little. That too can help slim down the costs.

How Is Concrete Colored

It is highly likely that you’ve seen colored concrete at some point or another. It is entirely possible to change the color of the concrete. This can be achieved using several methods. One of the most common ways to change the concrete’s color is by using coloring admixture. This material must be mixed into the concrete. As long as everything is mixed correctly and at the right ratios, you will be provided with a rich color that will last a lifetime. On top of that, you will never have to worry about the color fading.

Remember that the integral colors are available in several forms, including powder, liquid and granular. It is possible to add the color to the concrete at the factory or at the job site. If you’re having the concrete poured for you, the materials will be mixed together in the concrete truck. That really removes the guesswork from the equation.

The good news is that changing the color of the concrete won’t be hard at all. Even if you intend to lay the concrete yourself, you won’t have any trouble getting it done. Just make sure that you’re cautious with the ratios and everything will turn out just fine.

Cement Mix Ratio

To ensure that the concrete is going to last, it is vital to make sure that the cement mix ratio is perfect. It is important to understand that the ratio is going to impact the PSI of the concrete. The PSI that is required will depend on the situation at hand. If you’re using a ratio of 3 parts sand, 3 parts aggregate and 1 part concrete, you’ll get a PSI of 3,000. The strength of the concrete depends on the water to cement ratio. When you add more water to the mixture, you’re going to be making the concrete weaker. By removing water from the equation, you’ll be able to make the concrete much stronger.

Professionals will use tools to measure the ingredients. This ensures the most precise measurements and the best results possible.

Maintaining Concrete

The truth of the matter is that concrete is tough and rugged. In most cases, it is not going to need a whole lot of maintenance. Nevertheless, there may come a time when you have to take steps to keep the concrete in good condition. At the same time, proper maintenance of the concrete will help ensure that it remains beautiful and in greater condition for as long as possible. So, what do you need to do to keep your concrete in good condition?

First and foremost, you should try cleaning the concrete regularly. Be sure that you clean the concrete at least once a year. This will get rid of dirt, grime, rust, and stains. You’ll also want to repair cracks. There are patches that can be used for this purpose. Always try to repair the cracks before they worsen and become even more problematic. You also need to make sure that you seal the joints. This can help decrease the amount of water that is able to seep through.

Sealing the joints will also help prevent dirt from building up while stopping weeds from growing through the joints in the future. As mentioned above, you will also want to seal the concrete. This can help repel water, while also preventing the build-up of dust. Be sure to take these steps to keep your concrete in immaculate condition.

Working Time For Concrete

Working with concrete can be tricky. After all, you have to get the ratios right. On top of that, you have to make sure that the concrete is perfectly level and straight. To ensure that you’re able to get it right, you’ll have to work quickly. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the working time for concrete so you know how much time you have to play around. Just remember that there are several factors that can play a role in determining the concrete’s working time.

The temperature is definitely one of the most important. When the temperature is hotter, there is a good chance that the concrete is going to dry much quicker. On average, it can take up to 5 hours for a 3,000 PSI concrete to set. With this in mind, you should plan your project accordingly. Be sure that you have plenty of time to get everything perfect before the concrete sets.

Concrete Curing Time

Another thing to remember is that concrete can take some time to cure. In general, the concrete should be set within 24 to 48 hours. This will give you the ability to walk on it without much trouble. However, it is going to take much longer to fully cure. The concrete should be partially cured in approximately a week. During this period of time, the concrete should be protected from heavy equipment. The concrete will most likely cure fully in 28 days.

After this period, you should be able to drive heavy equipment on the concrete without any worries whatsoever. When it comes to laying concrete, you really have to be very patient. If you attempt to rush things, there is a good chance that something is going to go wrong. Wait until the concrete has fully cured before you attempt to drive heavy vehicles on it.

Tips For Mixing Concrete

The truth of the matter is that mixing concrete can be far more difficult than most people could ever imagine. You have to make sure that the ratios are right. Otherwise, you’re not going to get the right consistency. Before you get started, you need to head to your local hardware store. Go ahead and buy a few bags of premixed concrete. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to take the bags home and begin mixing the concrete with water. You have to make sure that you use the precise amount of water or you’re going to create problems in the long run.

Now, you’re going to need a tub or wheelbarrow. Once you’ve got a suitable container, you will want to go ahead and pour the bag of concrete into it. Now, you need to start adding water. Be sure to move forward cautiously. Put in a small amount of water and stir thoroughly. Once you’ve finished, you should check the consistency. If necessary, you should go ahead and add more water. Be sure to stir thoroughly.

Once you think you’ve got it right, you should use the shovel’s blade to check the consistency of the concrete.
Make sure that the concrete is the right consistency before pouring. Getting the right consistency from the get-go will make a world of difference in the long run.


At the end of the day, concrete is really one of the most impressive materials ever. With concrete, you can create houses, streets, highways and so much more. The material is very durable and it can outlive the competition. On top of that, concrete is safe and budget friendly. There are plenty of reasons to use concrete and that is why it is one of the most used construction materials. Just remember that working with the material can be tough. Take your time and do not rush. If you do, there is a greater chance that problems are going to occur.


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