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The Difference Between Concrete and Cement

The Difference Between Concrete and Cement

The terms cement and concrete are often believed to have the same meaning. Yes, they both do the same job and are used in infrastructure construction, but they do have different meanings. Actually, both are completely different in the sense of the composition found in each. In fact, cement is an ingredient used in the construction of concrete. The major difference that can be found between the two is that for concrete to be created, it needs cement as part of its ingredients. Meanwhile, cement is a standalone product with a number of functions and the ability to perform a number of jobs.


Cement has been utilized in civilization for centuries. There is no conclusive evidence of when cement began being used, but it can be traced back to the ancient Macedonia civilization. However, it was the Roman Empire that popularized the use of cement in construction. During this time, the Romans used lime and pozzolana, a type of volcanic ash, to build structures. Nowadays, cement is made up of limestone, clay, silica sand, iron, calcium, and other ingredients. The products are then put in a kiln, where they are heated to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. The end product formed is marble-like in nature and is called clinkers. The clinkers are then ground up until they become a fine powder. From here, gypsum is added to the fine powder to form what is now known as the cement. Construction workers can then add water to the cement to create hardened structures.

Most cement that is used in construction is called Portland cement. This is because of a mason in England who saw it had the same color as stones from a quarry in Portland off the coast of England when he first used it in the 1800s. Portland cement is the most commonly used type of cement because of how fast it dries, as well as because of its higher compression strengths as compared to other cement. It is therefore used in concrete, stucco, mortar and grout constructions.

There are 2 types of cement; hydraulic and non-hydraulic

Hydraulic – This is a type of cement that hardens when mixed with water to form a solid object after the chemical elements in the cement react. After hardening, the newly formed material now becomes water-resistant. Since the mixture is now completely independent of water after the initial mix, the cement can even solidify and harden underwater. This type of mixture is therefore rendered versatile when it comes to the construction of infrastructure in and out of water. That is why it is the most preferred.

Non-Hydraulic – This type of cement does not harden when it is exposed to water or if it is in wet conditions. It, therefore, needs very specific conditions in order for it to dry and strengthen. Because of this feature, the product is not very efficient when it comes to the construction of infrastructure and is therefore not preferred by many construction workers. Its main upside is that it is cheaper than hydraulic cement, but it also resistant to attack by chemicals once it completely dries up.


On the other hand, concrete is a mixture of cement, water and other aggregates (sand, gravel and other materials). The aggregate makes up 60% to 80% of the total composition of the content of the concrete, while cement makes up 10% to 15% of the composition. The remaining percentage is made up of water. The composition mix will depend on what function the concrete will be utilized. The composition mix will also determine the strength, how long it takes to harden, its workability and its ability to freeze and thaw after the construction of the infrastructure. Therefore, the proportionality and the mix of the ingredients is what will determine how durable and strong the end infrastructure will be.

Using concrete for infrastructure has some benefits in that it is resistant to different weather conditions, is very strong, fire-resistant, requires low maintenance and is very energy efficient. Moreover, when in its semi-liquid state, the concrete can be molded into any shape when being used for construction.

This serves to show how different cement and concrete are because one is used in the production of the other. As a company that deals in construction materials, we provide quality building materials, lumber, steel, doors, hardware, and paints. Pay us a visit, and we will help and guide you with whatever you might need for construction.

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