Cement vs. Concrete: What’s the difference?

The terms concrete and cement are often confused for each other, as many think concrete and cement are the same. It is easy to interchange the meaning, as many do not know that one is essential for the other to exist. So the difference between cement and concrete is that cement is actually an ingredient of concrete. Concrete is a mixture of aggregates (sand, gravel, crushed stone) and a paste, which is made of water and cement. So now we know the difference, let’s break down the details of cement vs. concrete.

The basics of cement

The generic term for cement is Portland cement, similar to how steel is commonly referred to as stainless steel. Cement is the binding agent used to create concrete, and usually makes up about 10 to 15 per cent of the mixture by volume. The cement is mixed with water, and they react and harden, thus binding the ingredients to create the hard mass that is concrete. The water/cement ratio differs for each project. Head over to our website to use our concrete calculator to estimate the volume and weight of concrete necessary to cover your project area.

There are many different types of cement that all have other uses. Some of these are:
⦁ General Purpose (GP): for general use in all types of building and construction.
⦁ General Purpose Blend (GB): for general use in all types of building and construction. Early strength gain rates may be lower than GP. Curing may be more critical. 
⦁ High Early Strength (HE): a critical requirement for cold weather environments and in repairs.  
⦁ Low Heat (LH): used for moderate resistance to forms of a chemical attack. 

The basics of concrete

Concrete is a composite material made up of a mixture of cement and fine aggregates. These aggregates range from sand, gravel, crushed up stone, all coarse in texture. The mixture will harden or cure over time to create the hard concrete we all know. Concrete is one of the most frequently used building materials and can be used for a range of projects like roads and footpaths. 

There are a few different types of concrete, and these vary depending on multiple factors. Formulas can differ depending on the binders and types of aggregates used. These determine strength, density, chemical resistance and thermal resistance of the concrete. The three basic categories are lime concrete, cement concrete and reinforced cement concrete. From there, the variants stem out into how ‘ready-to-use’ they are. 

What is the history of cement and concrete?

The Babylonians and Ancient Egyptians were the first to use concrete when they mixed ingredients like clay, lime, gypsum and water to create concrete or mortar. This mixture was used to build many artifacts still standing today like the Great Pyramid. The Romans created their own strong cement when they mixed lime with volcanic sand, then added water to produce cement. They then combined this with aggregates like pumice to make lime concrete for the creation of harbours and buildings, like the Colosseum. In 1882, Australians produced Portland cement in South Australia. Today, the ready-mix concrete and cement industry is the largest area of the concrete market and is expected to pass $600 billion in revenue by 2025. 

How to use cement and concrete today

Concrete is the most used human-made material because of its versatility and reliability. It is durable, cost-effective, and sustainable. We want to use products that will last a lifetime and leave us confident that our structure will hold up against the elements. There is a range of ways cement and concrete are used in our world today. At home, you could create a concrete slab for your desired building project, or maybe a concrete patio? By using a ready-mix concrete mixture, you could DIY your concrete planter box, or to secure some fencing or posts. 

If you are ready for your next project or need advice on what to consider when ordering or choosing your concrete mix, give us a call on (08) 9250 2322 or head over to our website for more information. Let’ get mixing.