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What is the Difference Between Cement and Concrete?

graphicIf you have ever wondered what the difference between cement and concrete is, you have stumbled upon the right place. Concrete and cement have been used intermittently often over the years, and many people think they are basically the same. The truth of the matter is that cement and concrete are two completely different materials that should not be interchanged. If you have ever seen a cement truck driving down the street, know now that it’s inaccurate to call it a cement truck. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between cement and concrete.

The Basics of Concrete and Cement

Concrete is a material that uses cement as one of its ingredients. The four primary components of concrete are stone, cement, water, and sand. When water is added to the concrete mix, the cement is activated and acts as a binding agent. The cement binds the aggregates, whether coarse or fine, and creates a mixture that, when poured and dried, will create a very strong and durable slab.

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One of the biggest reasons why cement and concrete are often mixed up is because cement is an element of concrete, so that is where much of the confusion lies. That said, cement is its own material and can be used in specific applications. While concrete is super durable and will last many years, cement is far less durable. However, this does not mean it isn’t used often. On the contrary, cement is a beneficial material for binding purposes and is often used in construction projects.

Cement is used in mortar for masonry work, and it is also used for making joints for pipes and drains. Cement is used to build thermal and fireproof structures. It is often used as a grout material. In fact, cement is very handy for all sorts of projects around the house. You can utilize cement for kitchen countertops, landscape edging, and even walkways. Cement is quite versatile and is the perfect material for smaller applications, including the repair of concrete structures.

When Should Cement or Concrete Be Used?

The answer to this question depends largely on the type of project you have planned. For example, if you are going to install a patio in your backyard, concrete is going to be your best choice for several reasons. A concrete patio is strong and durable and will give you years of enjoyment, while a patio made from only cement won’t last nearly as long. But if you are installing a fence, cement is the choice to use for setting the posts. For any large project like driveways, patios, and sidewalks, concrete is going to be the best material. But for smaller projects and repairs, cement is an excellent choice.

When you shop your local home improvement store for concrete, you will find there are several types, which can be even more confusing. The reason why there are so many choices is that you will want to choose the suitable concrete for the job. For example, there is a specific type of concrete to use when installing a driveway, one that will resist cracking even when very heavy objects rest on it. But, of course, if you hire a concrete contractor to replace or install your driveway, you don’t need to worry about the type of concrete to use.

The More You Know

Now that you know the difference between cement and concrete, you probably feel somewhat enlightened. Now, when the conversation between friends turns to concrete or cement, you can confidently explain the differences. It also gives you the opportunity to correct a co-worker or other acquaintance who says cement and concrete are the same material. And you will sleep better at night knowing that should you ever have to choose between cement or concrete for a DIY project; you will make the right choice.

NEXT: Why a Concrete Driveway is Better Than Gravel

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