What is the difference between concrete and cement?

difference between concrete and cement

Most people get confused between cement and concrete as they look alike or behave similarly but they are not the same thing. Cement is just a part of concrete. Cement is present in powder form while concrete is present in semi-liquid form. To differentiate it properly, you must know the basics.

What is Cement?

Modern cement was invented in the early 19th century and is an excellent binding agent. You can prepare it from a mixture of iron, aluminum, silicon, calcium, and some other substances. First, these ingredients are heated at a very high temperature (around 1500°C) until you get a rock-like substance and later it is grinded into an extremely fine powder. You have to mix cement with water to use it as a grout. You can also combine it with plaster and water before applying it to stonework surfaces to obtain a smooth surface.

What is Cement


  • Great for small projects.
  • Easy for repairs.
  • It has a smooth texture.
  • Can also fill in gaps in cracked concrete.


  • Not good for large projects.
  • Does not last long.
  • Breaks easily.
  • Requires more ingredients than a standalone material.

What is concrete?

Concrete is a building material. Concrete is made of cement and other components like aggregate and water.  Therefore, cement is an ingredient in concrete. aggregates such as sand, stone, and gravel constituting 75% of concrete. But while making the concrete, you should remember to use fresh and clean water and other components as dirt can decrease the strength of the concrete.

Concrete is the best construction material. It is a desirable building material because of its high strength and durability. Also, the components to make it are easily available. You can use it for the construction of almost everything like roads, bridges, dams, sidewalks, and backyard patios.


  • It works for any project.
  • Withstands the test of time.
  • It has cement in it.


  • It is hard to use, especially for small projects.
  • You cannot make any mistake with it because when it is set there is no chance to alter

Which is more durable concrete or cement?

Concrete is much more durable than cement. So, it can last hundreds of years.  Because of concrete’s durability, it is used in larger projects like in the construction of schools, bridges, sidewalks, and other structures.On the contrary, cement is used for smaller jobs like grouting and in the repair of cracked or crumbling concrete.

However, there are different kinds of concrete available  in the market. Each type of concrete has a specific application. For example, to avoid cracking when  immensely loaded,  you should choose fiber-reinforced concrete. Choose the type as per the needs of your  project.


The above article has all the details of cement, concrete and their differencesNow, when you are at the end of it, hopefully,you are having all the insights to rightly choose the best one among them as per the needs of your project.. For more information, you can  directly contact us through  our website http://www.concretersauckland.net.nz/ .

Which type of concrete should you use for your project?

Made with natural ingredients, concrete is environmentally friendly and recyclable. Therefore, you can crushed recycled concrete as the dry aggregate when making new concrete. There are many types of concrete that you can use, so keep reading about the most common of them.

Which type of concrete should you use for your project

1.      Plain/ordinary concrete

The typical ratio of 1:2:4 with cement, sand, and aggregate is used to make plain concrete. You can use it for pavements of buildings where demand for tensile strength isn’t necessary, such as dam construction. This kind of cement doesn’t resist vibration and wind loading, but its durability rating is good.

2.      Normal Strength Concrete

Concrete, sand, and aggregate in a 1:2:4 ratio are used for the regular strength concrete. It needs 30 to 90 minutes to set, and weather conditions and cement’s properties affect the time necessary for setting.

It’s a reliable choice for pavements and buildings with low demand of high tensile strength.

3.      Prestressed Concrete

Prestressed concrete is made with a particular method with bars and tendons that are stress before applying the concrete. As the concrete is mixed and placed, the bars are set at all ends of the structural unit. As the concrete sets, the unit will be put into compression. Therefore, the lower section becomes stronger.

Prestressed units are typically assembled on-site and used for bridges and heavily loaded structures.

4.      Reinforced Concrete

Wires, cables, and steel rods are placed in the concrete before setting, making the concrete incredibly strong. This type of concrete is often used in modern and industrial construction. Recently, professionals have started to use fibers to reinforce concrete.

5.      Precast Concrete

Precast concrete is made and cast in a factory to precise specifications. Precast concrete units are taken to the site and assembled. Precast walls, concrete blocks, staircase units, and poles are some of the most common uses of precast concrete.

6.      High-density concrete

The construction of atomic power plants is where high-density concrete is used most. It’s made with heavyweight aggregates, which explains the resistance to radiation.

7.      Lightweight Concrete

The density of lightweight concrete is lower than 1920kg/m3. Scoria, pumice, artificial materials like expanded shales and clays are lightweight aggregates to make this type of concrete. It has low thermal conductivity, which explains its use for long-spanning bridge decks and building blocks. Steel structures are often protected with lightweight concrete.

8.      Decorative Concrete

Decorative concrete has a visually appealing appearance and supports various processes such as molding, coloring, polishing, etching, and decorative toppings. It’s ideal for projects where aesthetics is crucial, like swimming pools and flooring.

9.      Air-Entrained Concrete

Some kinds of concrete have billions of air cells in every cubic foot. The air pockets generate the internal pressure on the concrete. They also create small chambers where water will expand after freezing. Foaming agents (fatty acids, alcohols, and resins) are added to entrain the air in the concrete. The entrained air increases up to 6% of the volume of the concrete. This type of concrete is widely used in freezing environments.

10.  Ready-Mix Concrete

The concrete is mixed and taken to the site, and used right away. If the location of use is too far, it becomes useless. This type of cement is popular because the mixture has high precision, and the pouring goes smoothly on the worksite.

11.  Rapid-set concrete

It’s ideal when you have to complete a project. It sets quickly and it’s highly resistant to low temperatures. It’s highly reliable in winters when most types of concrete cannot be used.

12.  Volumetric Concrete

It’s an alternative to ready-mix concrete and requires specialized trucks (volumetric mobile mixers). They take both the water and concrete ingredients to be mixed at the worksite.

This type is proper when two different types of concrete mix at the same worksite. Large sites, multi-projects, and basement constructions are the most common projects for volumetric concrete.

13.  Pervious concrete

It’s widely available and typical for pavements and roads. It’s made to resist issues that pools of water and stormwater runoff generate. It’s made with cement, water, and coarse aggregates, and no sand so that water passes through the layers.

14.  Smart Concrete

It’s the technology of the future. Short carbon fibers are added with a conventional concrete mixture which impacts the electrical resistance of the concrete when it’s under strain or stress. It can identify issues before the concrete fails. At the moment, it’s not widely available, but it’s ideal for locations with a constant threat of earthquakes.

15.  Shotcrete Concrete

Shotcrete is different from any other type of concrete as it’s shot through a nozzle onto a frame/formwork. High air pressure is required for the application, so the compaction process happens when placing takes place. It’s highly used to repair damaged concrete, wood, and steel structures.

What types of cement can be used in the construction industry?

Should you consider using cement, here are some basic details about the kinds of cement commonly used in construction projects:

What types of cement can be used in the construction industry

Ordinary Portland cement (OPC)

OPC is made and used all over the world. It works as manufacture grout, solid concrete blocks, wall putty, AAC blocks, and various kinds of cement.

  • Concrete: when mixed with aggregates and water, it turns into concrete used in the building construction.
  • Mortar: for joining masonry
  • Plaster: for the perfect finish of the walls

Portland Pozzolana Cement (PPC)

Pozzolanic clinker and Portland cement are used to obtain PPC. It’s highly resistant to various chemical agents and is used for:

  • Bridges
  • Sewage works
  • Dams
  • Marine structures
  • Mass concrete jobs
  • Piers

Low heat cement

Low heat cement is made with tricalcium aluminate (no more than 6%) and a high proportion of C2S. It’s used in mass concrete construction such as gravity dams. Low heat cement is less reactive and the initial setting time is higher than for the OPC.

Rapid Hardening Cement

Rapid Hardening Cement is made with C3S (finely grounded) displayed in OPC with higher concrete. Construction pavement and other rapid constructions are projects where it’s used the most.

Extra Rapid Hardening Cement

This type of cement becomes strong very fast and it’s made with calcium chloride and rapid hardening cement. It’s reliable for cold weather concreting and it’s 25% faster than rapid hardening cement.

Quick Setting Cement

Quick setting cement sets faster than OPC, and it’s as strong as the OPC. The percentage of gypsum is lower and the immediate setting cement is used for jobs when the quick setting is necessary (cold/rainy weather conditions and underwater structures).

Sulfates Resisting Cement

This kind of cement is made to withstand the sulfate attack in concrete and has a low Tricalcium aluminate. It’s used for construction in contact with soil/groundwater with more than 0.2% or 0.3% g/l sulfate salts. It’s also dependable to use for surfaces exposed to alternate wetting and drying (bridge piers).

High alumina cement

Calcining bauxite and lime with clinker are used to obtain this kind of cement. The total amount of alumina is higher than 32%, whereas the ratio of the alumina’s weight to lime has to stay between 0.85 and 1.30.

It’s an appropriate choice for constructions exposed to high temperatures, such as foundries, refractory, and workshops.

Blast Furnace Slag Cement

The clinker is ground with 60% slag to obtain this sort of cement, resembling Portland cement. It’s very appropriate for constructions with fix budget.

White Cement

Raw materials free from oxide and iron are used for manufacturing this type of cement. It has to have lime and clay in high proportion, and the cement resembles the OPC. However, it’s more expensive than OPC.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to use concrete instead of mortar?

Both mortar and concrete are commonly used as building materials. However, it’s not possible to use one instead of the other without altering the structure’s integrity.

Can you make concrete with cement and sand?

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to make concrete with just sand and cement. Concrete isn’t concrete unless it has aggregates such as stone and gravel. The aggregates make the concrete highly strong.

Is cement found naturally?

Cement isn’t a naturally occurring material. It’s made through a chemical combination of 8 ingredients. Typically, the ingredients are extracted from shale, clay, limestone, chalk, bauxite, marl, sand, and iron.

What’s the color of cement?

Cement comprises two calcium silicates, a mixed crystal (calcium aluminate ferrite) and calcium aluminate. Even if some of the ingredients look like pure white minerals, pure C4AF (calcium aluminate ferrite) has a brown color due to the iron content. In theory, pure cement can look brown.

Cement or concrete- which one is cheaper?

If we consider the installation and concrete costs, poured concrete stands out as more affordable than cement per square foot. The upfront spending of pavers is higher, but concrete pavers surpass in durability and quality poured concrete and stamp concrete.

About Amanda

I love to buy a lot of products for the home, and dissect them out. I split them into duds and winners, and share the findings here on my site. As a reader of my site, I'm aiming for your next purchase to be an informed and inspired one.

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