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What are the Differences Between Concrete and Cement? The Essential Guide

difference between concrete and cement

Even though concrete and cement are used interchangeably, they are not the same. In fact, cement is an ingredient in concrete. Basically, concrete is a mixture of aggregates such as sand and gravel or crushed stone and a paste of cement and water. 

Well, it’s not just the concrete and the cement, we often mix up the large, rotating drums that mix concrete for a cement truck. To help you keep them straight and explain the differences between concrete and cement, let’s put these both side by side and compare them. 

The Fundamentals of Concrete

Concrete is used across the globe for the construction of both residential and commercial buildings. The fact that makes it so appealing is the availability of the components as well as the strength and durability that it offers. Here are some facts about concrete:

  1. 75 percent of concrete is made from gravel, sand, and stone
  2. The water used for mixing concrete and cement should be clean 
  3. The aggregate materials should be ultra clean as any contamination in these materials can compromise the strength of concrete

The Fundamentals of Cement

Cement is a binder made from the mixture of aluminium, iron, calcium, silicon, and some other substances found in shells, limestone, clay, silica sand, and iron ore. These ingredients are mixed and heated to an extremely high temperature, which creates a hardened, rock-like substance. Later, it is ground into a very fine powder, cement. Lastly, it is mixed with water and aggregates that form concrete. Here are some facts about cement:

  1. Modern cement was invented in the 19th century by an English bricklayer
  2. Cement has single use as well. It can be mixed with water and applied as grout
  3. It can be mixed with water and plaster to apply to surfaces to make them smoother

Difference Between Concrete and Cement

As we know, concrete comprises cement, gravel, sand, and water. Through a process known as hydration, the water and cement harden and fuse the aggregates into a rock-like mass. The hardening process can go on for years after being laid, meaning the older the concrete gets, the stronger it gets. 





Cement is an adhesive or binding material.

Concrete is a mixture of coarse and fine aggregates and binding material such as asphalt or cement


It is made from aluminium, iron, calcium, silicon, and some other substances found in shells, limestone, clay, silica sand, and iron ore.

Concrete has sand, stone, cement, and water. While sand and stone provide strength, cement, asphalt, and lime bind the aggregates. Oftentimes, admixtures are also added to decrease the time of settlement.

Working Mechanism

When water is poured into cement, a hydration process takes place. It hardens the cement paste. Also, while the hydration process is taking place, two other reactions take place. The first one causes the cement to set and the second one hardens the cement and forms a gel, which is the main bonding material. 

Concrete is a blend of coarse and fine aggregates. Fine aggregates fill the gaps of the coarse aggregates. Both aggregates need to be graded properly to achieve strength. Also, water and cement need to be mixed in proper ratios. 


It is used as a binding agent in concrete. It can also be used as grout and to smoothen out surfaces. 

Concrete is used to provide compressive strength to building elements such as beams, slabs, footings, columns, and more. 


Ordinary portland cement,

Quick setting cement,

Portland pozzolana cement, Rapid hardening cement, High alumina cement, Low heat cement, Blast furnace cement, Sulphate resisting cement, Air entraining cement, Hydrophobic cement, Expansive cement. 

Regular Concrete, Stamped Concrete, High-strength Concrete, Vacuum Concrete, High-Performance Concrete, Glass Concrete, Self-consolidating Concretes, Polymer Concrete, Asphalt Concrete, Limecrete, Rapid Strength Concrete, Light-Transmitting Concrete, Roller-Compacted concrete

Some Other Differences Between Concrete and Cement

Concrete is one of the most durable and longest-lasting materials, and therefore, it is used in larger projects such as bridges, commercials, residential buildings, sidewalks, and many such structures. 

Cement, on the other hand, is used for smaller jobs such as repairing crumbling or cracked concrete and for specialized masonry.

Final Thoughts on the Differences Between Concrete and Cement

We see concrete everywhere and often confuse it with just cement. Even if cement is the most indispensable part of concrete, there are other aggregates that give it strength and durability. In our guide where we mentioned the differences between concrete and cement, we looked at some major distinguishing features of both concrete and cement. The application of both these mixtures depends on the size of the job. Bigger projects such as foundations, columns, and beams require concrete and smaller jobs such as grouting and plastering need cement.

Difference between concrete and cement FAQs

1) What is stronger cement or concrete?

Concrete is stronger than cement. On its own, cement is prone to cracking. When it is combined with sand and gravel, it creates a compound that is not only hard but gets stronger and harder as time goes by.

2) What’s the difference between Portland cement and concrete?

Portland cement is not a brand name. It is a type of cement mixed in almost all types of concrete. Similar to stainless steel, which is a type of steel and not a name of a brand. Portland cement is used in concrete to make it stronger and more durable.

3) What is cheaper cement or concrete?

Cement is used in the concrete mixture with other aggregates such as sand, gravel, and water. Cement used on its own can crack, but when mixed with concrete, the strength goes up significantly. So, instead of just using cement for construction, concrete is a better choice.

4) Can you just add water to the cement?

When cement is mixed with water, it creates grout, which is used for repairing cracked or crumbling concrete structures. It is also used to smoothen up some surfaces or in masonry.

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