Concrete vs Cement - We Explain The Difference

May 9, 2022

The difference between concrete and cement

When most people think of concrete, they are actually thinking about cement. However, there is a big difference between these two materials - cement is just one ingredient in concrete! It is cement, when mixed with water that gives the well-known strength and durability to the concrete.


So, concrete and cement are not the same thing, but concrete is fully dependent on cement for its known characteristics.


The basics of concrete

Concrete is made of a mix between water, cement and aggregates. It is the most used man-made material on earth and has evolved our way of building and living for thousands of years.


It has strength and durability like no other material, and the ingredients are available almost everywhere on earth.


Since concrete is a mix of several ingredients, it comes in many different formulas that can be adjusted depending on the purpose.


Reading tips: Concrete slump test and concrete cube test.


The basics of cement

Cement is a binding material and is made up of a very specific mix of silicon, iron, and calcium among other things.


All these ingredients are heated up to an extremely high temperature. When this happens, they get a stone-like texture that is later ground down to a powder. If you combine cement with water and plaster, you get a smooth surface. This is a very popular detail in homes today.


Cement is a binding material, and is never used on its own, unlike concrete that is a building material.


Cement vs concrete - when you should use what

Cement is often used when doing small projects that don't cover much surface. You can use it when you want to make a nice detail on a wall at home, or if you need to repair a crack in existing concrete.


Concrete is used for large projects such as highways, buildings, and sidewalks. Even DIY people without prior experience of concrete use concrete for both bigger and smaller projects at home. This means you don’t need to be an expert to work with concrete. However, we strongly recommend that you take advice from an experienced and knowledgeable person if you want to build something bigger. Mainly because the quality of the concrete after it hardens is dependent on many factors.


Read more: Concrete setting time, concrete curing time and concrete maturity.



Cement vs concrete - definition

Definition of cement: According to the Cambridge Dictionary, cement is “a grey powder that is mixed with water and sand to make mortar, or with water, sand, and small stones to make concrete”.


Definition of concrete: According to the Cambridge Dictionary, concrete is “a very hard building material made by mixing together cement, sand, small stones, and water”.


Cement vs concrete - strength

Concrete is much stronger than cement. When the concrete has cured properly, it is an extremely hard material. Cement on the other hand, has a tendency to crack if it is used on its own.


Read more: Find out more about concrete slabs and what to think about when pouring concrete in cold temperatures.


If you have a tight time schedule

With ConcreteDNA, Converge helps you to build faster. In fact, up to 30% faster! With our product, you get live data of the curing process. You can see this from any device with our wireless sensors.


ConcreteDNA will help you save both money and time on your building projects. You can save time with the predictions of when the curing will be done, because you won't have to hire staff on the weekends that stand around with nothing to do due to wrongful calculations. You will save time by being able to schedule the right people, at the right place, at the right time.


Frequently asked questions


Are concrete and cement the same thing?

No, concrete and cement are not the same thing. Concrete is a building material that contains three ingredients: water, aggregates, and cement. Cement is a binding material that is one of the ingredients of concrete.


Is cement stronger than concrete?

No, cement is not stronger. Concrete is a very hard material.


Why do people confuse cement and concrete?

Since concrete has cement in it, it is easy to confuse them. They are also often (wrongly) used as synonyms by people that don't have any knowledge about it and the industry, which increases the risk of confusion even more.


Is cement cheaper than concrete?

Yes, cement is cheaper than concrete. However, cement is never used on its own. This means that you will have to buy additional materials to be able to use the cement, and the price will go up if you want to be able to use it. Therefore, concrete is a very affordable building material since you can use it on its own.


Is cement more durable than concrete?

No, concrete is much more durable than cement. When cement is mixed with water, it starts a chemical reaction that makes the mix of ingredients cure and gain strength and durability. The concrete gets its durability from cement, but cement is not more durable.

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