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Concrete or Cement: Know the Difference

Cement and concrete are terms that are repeatedly used interchangeably.


Cement can be defined as a binder used in construction sites.

It can be used solo to build some structures for smaller projects. Nevertheless, it can also be put together with other materials. When blended into other materials, the cement hardens and sets everything together.

For example, it can be mixed with aggregates to elicit paste used in masonry. Still, for example, cement is mixed with gravel and sand to produce concrete.

In short, we can say that cement is one of the ingredients needed to prepare concrete.

Components of Cement

Below are the common materials used to manufacture cement;

  • Iron ore
  • Slate
  • Limestone
  • Marl\chalk
  • Silica sand
  • Shale
  • Calcium
  • Aluminium
  • Iron
  • Slated
  • Gust furnace slag

Of course, there is a procedure followed when mixing the materials but when all are combined they are heated at a very high temperature to produce a rock that we now call cement.

Advantages of Cement

Cement is;

  • Robust and very useful as a material in structural construction
  • Flexible and easy to use
  • Simple to mix
  • Adjustable
  • Very affordable


  • Irresistible to pressure
  • Not easy to maintain
  • When it comes to mixing, balancing should precise
  • Not environmental friendly
  • Not durable


Concrete is a hardened material made from a mixture of cement materials.

Components Concrete

Concrete consists of the following elements;

  • Portland cement in powdery form
  • Water
  • Aggregate this included sand, rocks and broken gravel

The type of cement used to make concrete is Portland. Concrete is used in the construction of bridges, roads, columns, pillars, beams, foundations and slabs.

Advantages of Concrete

Concrete is;

The most used material in the construction, both in commercial and residential projects

Globally available. Concrete can locally be manufactured within a radius of 160km of the construction site.

All-weather, concrete will always stay in perfect condition no matter the rain, the sun, or the snow.

Very versatile, can be moulded in any shape and size. This allows the designers to be more creative and comes up with imaginable structures.

Durable, it gets more stable as time goes by. Concrete lasts for decades.

Resilient, it doesn’t deteriorate, scorch or corrodes. This in a way makes it very cost-effective.

Safe, its resilience makes it the best material to use in construction. It’s the ability to resist fire, corrosion, decay and earthquakes that make it safe for human use.

Very cost-effective, thanks to its ability to last for a long time, low maintenance cost, energy

Recyclable, it can always be recycled as sub-base material (aggregate) in the construction of parking lots, gabions, roadbeds and shorelines.

It is sound insulating, mild to the environment, easy and cheap to maintain.

Facts about Cement

  • Can be used as grout when mixed with water
  • Was invented in the 19th century in a kitchen belonging to an English bricklayer
  • To create a smooth surface finish, when it is mixed with water plasterer
  • Though can be used singularly, it is prone to cracks

Fact about Concrete

  • The water that is supposed to be used during the mixing process must be very clean.
  • Aggregates, when contaminated with things like hummus can jeopardise the stability of the structure
  • 75% of concrete is the aggregate used

Bottom Line

The main difference and the reason why many confuse concrete for cement and vice versa is that, when mixed with water, cement forms a paste used in smaller construction projects.

The paste is formed from a mixture of cement and water, when things like sand and stones are thrown in, it forms the concrete that we see all around us.