How Are Cement and Concrete Different?
A pet peeve that really gets under my concrete-dusted skin is when people use the terms ‘concrete’ and ‘cement’ interchangeably. As in ‘I tripped on the cement sidewalk’, ‘Hang on a minute! That cement shouldn’t have footprints in it!’, ‘My cement mixer is on the fritz’, or other such common sentences.
Although the terms ‘cement’ and ‘concrete’ are often used interchangeably, cement is actually an ingredient of concrete, while concrete is the finished product. Concrete is a mixture of aggregates (a fancy industry term meaning lots of little bits) and paste. The aggregates, or little bits, are sand and gravel or crushed stone; the paste is water and portland cement. Not because Portland is particularly special when it comes to odd bits of pulverized rock (although they do have some awfully delicious food trucks…), it’s just what some Cement Big-Cheese decided to name the cement used in concrete mixes. Maybe he had a thing for Portland? Or maybe because Portland rarely sees the sun so people there are….pasty? Hmmm, further research may be in order on that one….. Either way, the name is nothing to do with a particular brand or where the cement is from. Logically.
The ingredient cement usually makes up between 10 and 15 percent of the concrete mix, by volume. Through a process called hydration (someone dropped the ball on fancy terms there), the cement and water harden and bind the aggregates into a rocklike mass. This hardening, or curing, process continues for years meaning that concrete gets tougher as it gets older. Cool, huh?
Anyway, I digress. Since cement is simply an ingredient of concrete, there is no such thing as a cement sidewalk, or a cement mixer; the proper terms are concrete sidewalk and concrete mixer. Unless you just stick a load of cement in a mixer and give a little whir around on its own; then it would be a cement mixer.
Make sense? Goody. I’m glad we have now cemented the facts.
If your concrete floors or countertops need their cement seeing to, call Stone Surface Specialists today at 801 856 0164 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Specialist Concrete Nerds. Er, I mean, experts.