What’s the Difference Between Concrete and Cement?
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What’s the Difference Between Concrete and Cement?

Concrete and cement are two of the most commonly used building materials in the construction industry. 

However, many people use the terms interchangeably and often, incorrectly, assume that they are one and the same. This is not the case.

While intrinsically linked, concrete and cement are actually very different materials and perform different roles in the construction process. Nonetheless, both can be found at building sites across the country, commonly being used on both domestic and commercial projects. 

To utilise concrete and cement effectively, it’s important to understand the key differences between the two. 

In this article, we’ll examine the difference between concrete and cement, ensuring you have a thorough understanding of both. Read on to find out more. 



What Is Concrete?

When we refer to concrete, we’re referring to a building material that is used for a wide range of building applications. It’s one of the most popular choices when constructing all kinds of structures, primarily due to its excellent durability and structural integrity. 

Some of the structures that you will see on a daily basis that are made from concrete include: 

  • Roads
  • Pavements 
  • Buildings
  • Foundations 
  • Flooring
  • Bridges 
  • And much more 

Concrete is made from a wide range of other materials, and does not ‘become’ concrete until all of the various binding agents have come together. The things concrete is made from include air, water, sand, gravel and – cement. 


What Is Cement?

As mentioned above, cement is a fantastic binding agent that is predominantly used as a key ingredient when creating a concrete mix. Cement is mixed together with water, air, gravel and sand to create concrete which then can be used as a robust material across a wide range of construction applications. 

When you consider this fact, it’s clear to see why cement and concrete should not be confused. This is because cement is an ingredient of concrete and concrete can not be created without it. 

The cement actually plays an integral role when concrete is being created, as it forms a paste that brings all of the necessary materials together and enhances a mix’s durability and functionality.  


What Is Cement Used For?

In addition to being used to create concrete, cement can be used for other construction projects. It is also regularly combined with mortar to assist with plastering and with grout for a range of stonemasonry projects. Due to the fact that cement is a binding agent, it is useless by itself and so can not be used by itself.

If you’re wondering what cement is made from, the truth is that it’s created from numerous products and ingredients. 

This includes:

  • Limestone
  • Clay
  • Marl
  • Shale
  • Chalk
  • Sand
  • Bauxite
  • Iron ore

Materials that have been directly extracted from limestone tend to make up most types of cement that you will come across.    


What Is The Difference Between Concrete And Cement? 

The main concrete and cement difference is fairly clear to see. 

As mentioned above, the difference between concrete and cement is fairly significant. 

This is because cement is an ingredient that is used to make concrete, alongside other aggregates and ingredients. In fact, on average, your average concrete mix will include around 10%-15% of cement. 

A process known as hydration is used which sees cement and water come together and harden and become a rock-like substance. This process can actually continue for years and years, always getting stronger. This means that the cement assists with the longevity of concrete and helps it to remain durable, robust and resistant to water and fire for years to come.

So, the next time you hear people using the terms concrete and cement in conjunction with one another, you’ll know that this is inaccurate. 


What is Portland Cement?

Portland cement is one of the most popular cement types that you are likely to come across.

Some people mistakenly think this is a brand name, but Portland actually refers to the location where the product was first discovered. 

Its name derives from the Isle of Portland in Dorset here in the UK. The product is made from hydraulic limestone and it has a slightly different composition when compared with other cements. Discovered in the mid-1800s, it has gone on to become one of the most commonly used cements around the world. 


How Is Concrete Made?

Now, let’s turn our attention to how concrete is made. 

Firstly, the ingredients needed to create concrete are poured into a mould. As the water and cement come into contact, the process of hydration will begin as outlined earlier. The mix will begin to harden almost immediately, so it’s vital that your mould is in the shape you desire as it will be difficult to change once the hardening has begun.

Following this, the curing process will begin. Essentially, this is the period of time when the optimum hardening will commence. It’s also why concrete can not be walked on for a period of time after it has been poured as this will disrupt this process and negatively impact the durability of the final mix. While curing never technically stops, after 28 days it will have achieved a level that is close to maximum strength which means you can use it for whatever you need. 

Here at Concrete Supply UK, we provide clients across the country with a vast array of concrete mixes. You can check out the wide range of concrete types we offer and our team are on hand and happy to create any mix you desire. We always take a bespoke approach to our clients’ work, because we know that every project is unique and different. 

As well as formulating tailor-made mixes that are perfect for what you need, we will also ensure that you always have the correct quantity to get the job done to the highest possible standard. Over ordering can be wasteful and not ordering enough costly, so check out our concrete calculator to make sure you always have the amount you need. 

For more information or to discuss your needs with our friendly team of experts, contact Concrete Supply UK today. 

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