What do you think is actually in that giant cement mixing truck that sits alongside many a construction site? If you think cement is the obvious answer, you’re wrong.
The truth is, those trucks are designed to mix one thing: concrete. Why do we call them cement trucks, and what exactly is the difference between concrete and cement, anyway?
Both concrete and cement are valuable building materials but they are not two names for the same thing. They have an important relationship that might surprise you. Read on to discover why!
What is Cement?
Cement is a powder binder made mostly of clay and calcified limestone. When mixed with water, it becomes a paste. This paste, mixed with different aggregates and additives, cement becomes the literal glue that holds the pieces together.
While you would rarely use cement alone, when used as a component of mortar or concrete it shines as a perfect building material. Uses for cement might be to repair cracks in concrete, or as tile grouting.
The Difference Between Concrete and Cement
One reason people often confuse the two materials is because concrete contains cement.
If you didn’t know that cement is actually a component of concrete, you’re not alone. The truth is, concrete is the name of the material you get when you mix cement paste with substances such as gravel and sand.
That’s right: cement is the secret sauce that makes cement one of the most durable and versatile building materials on the planet. While you can have cement without concrete, you can’t have concrete without cement.
Cement alone is not durable or long-lasting enough to be an efficient large-scale building material. It wears and cracks with age, and is better suited for other jobs. As cement, however, it is capable of lasting hundreds of years in some cases, or more!.
When combined in an ideal ratio, the components of cement get even stronger over time. The longer it sits, the more durable it is.
So What is Concrete?
Concrete is a mixture of materials such as cement, rock, sand, and water. Once hardened, concrete takes on a rock-like form. Unlike rock, concrete can get poured and molded into any shape or structure you can imagine.
If cement is too watery or contains too much concrete, it might pour easily but lack the strength and longevity you need. Mixed too dry, it will lack the ability to flow into place and might contain air pockets and weak points that compromise the structural integrity.
Concrete is not the sum of these parts alone. Many different types of concrete exist, with additional materials and properties that make them custom-fit for special jobs.
Fiber-reinforced concrete is designed to withstand heavy loads. This substance is perfect for roads and driveways. Quick-set concrete, which has a unique composition designed to make it dry faster, is made for jobs with time constraints.
It’s important to understand what types of concrete are best for the job at hand. Experts in the concrete trade know that there is an ideal mixture for every job. Companies like Hymix, for example, make a priority of supplying the perfect concrete mixtures to project designers and builders across the world.
Which Material is Right for My Job?
While concrete may be superior for heavy-duty jobs, cement has a role to play as well. Any DIYer can take advantage of both substances for a variety of home and landscaping projects.
Concrete can be used for everything from flooring, to countertops, to walkway pavers. For smaller jobs with finer details, cement is king. Use this material for masonry, repairs, grouting, and more! It’s important to understand the difference between concrete and cement so you can utilize both materials in the best possible way.
You didn’t know before, but now you do! Looking for more interesting facts, hacks, tips, and more? Visit our blog at Paldrop.com to expand your repertoire of useful information.