Concrete vs. Cement: What Are the Differences? | UNIQUE Paving Materials

Concrete vs. Cement: What Are the Differences?

Concrete vs. Cement

Many times, the terms concrete and cement are used interchangeably. However, concrete and cement are not synonymous, as cement is actually a component of concrete. Read on to learn more about the clear differences between concrete and cement.

Fundamentals of Concrete

Concrete is a mixture of cement, aggregates, and water. The aggregates used in this mixture include sand, stone, or gravel and they must be graded and clean, otherwise they could negatively affect the strength of the concrete.

Concrete is a durable building material that uses cement as a part of the mixture. When water is added to the cement and aggregates, the cement is activated, hydrates, and acts as a binding agent.

Quality concrete should have specific aspects that set it apart. The mix must be:

  • Workable enough to be placed and consolidated properly
  • Resistant to freezing, thawing, and deicing chemicals when cured
  • Capable of developing strength

Fundamentals of Cement

The main difference between concrete and cement is that cement is a binder made of iron, aluminum, silicon, calcium, and other substances from limestone, shells, chalk, clay, iron, and silica sand. After these ingredients are blended, they are then kiln fired and a clinker is produced and then crushed into a power. This powder combined with water turns into a paste.

The cement paste, when merged with sand and coarse aggregate, will make a concrete mix that will go through a hydration process we refer to as curing, facilitating strength development. Cement isn’t designed to be used on its own, but it is used as a binder by acting as “glue” and hardening other construction materials.

Concrete vs. Cement: Facts to Determine the Differences

While the terms are often used interchangeably, cement and concrete are not the same thing. Here are some important facts to help you recognize the difference between concrete and cement.

1. Concrete is best for larger projects, while cement is more often used for small jobs

Concrete is used in building pavements, schools, bridges, sidewalks, and many other structures. The material is also used in landscaping, kitchen countertops, and walkways. For smaller applications where the coarse aggregate is too large, fine aggregate is used with cement and water – we call this product a mortar. If we make this mortar more pliable or fluid, we call it a grout.

2. Concrete is used for driveways

Typically, driveways are made of concrete. Since concrete contains cement, both materials will then be present, but you would never use solely cement to pave a driveway. Driveways can also use asphalt, brick, and concrete pavers as their construction material.

3. Differences in overall strength and durability

Since concrete is most typically used for larger projects as opposed to cement, it’s manufactured to be stronger and more durable than cement as well. Due to its makeup, which includes just 10-15% cement, concrete is very durable in a variety of environmental conditions, while cement is known to degrade more quickly with ongoing water and air exposure.

FAQs on Concrete and Cement

Looking to utilize either concrete or cement for your next project? If so, here are some things to keep in mind for during and after the application process. Contact our team directly for more information.

How long does it take for concrete to cure?

For the best results, it’s advised to wait at least 28 days for concrete to fully cure and harden. It’s also important to note that the total time it takes for your concrete to cure can also depend on ulterior factors, such as the overall composition of the concrete, as well as inherent weather conditions.

Besides its contribution to concrete, what are the other uses of cement?

Though it is most notably known as an additive in the creation of concrete, cement can also be used for creating mortar and grout, as previously stated, as well as stucco in specialized applications.

What type of cement should I use for my application?

The type of cement that you use for a project is completely dependent on your preference, as well as the expectations of the application. With that in mind, here are just some of the most common cement types, as well as high-quality cement we recommend for your implementation:

  • Ordinary Portland cement (OPC)
  • Portland Pozzolana cement (PPC)
  • Rapid-hardening cement
  • Quick-setting cement
  • Low-heat cement

Alongside these recommendations, we also offer UNIQUE® Anchor Cement for those looking for a cement blend that also provides quick-setting results.

What are some ways I can prevent cracks in my concrete?

There are plenty of ways to extend the lifespan of your concrete and avoid cracks. Key tips include the following:

Concrete Repair from UNIQUE Paving Materials

Now that we’ve discussed concrete vs. cement, it is important that you receive the best concrete repair materials so you can preserve your pavement. UNIQUE Paving Materials is the premier choice for all repair needs.

Our line of concrete repair materials includes:

Learn More About Concrete vs. Cement by Contacting Us Today!

Want to learn more about the differences between concrete and cement and receive more concrete repair information? UNIQUE Paving Materials has the information and solutions you need. Contact us today to learn more or to get started on your road repairs!

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About the author

Becky Dunlavey

With over 10 years of experience, I wear many hats at UNIQUE Paving Materials. In addition to managing our multimedia marketing efforts and coordinating trade shows and regional events, working with the sales and customer service departments has allowed me to gain a multifaceted knowledge of the industry.

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