What’s the Difference Between Cement and Concrete?
People often refer to cement and concrete interchangeably, when in fact the two are distinct. Cement is a binder, and is one of the basic ingredients of concrete; the construction material we use every day for a whole host of purposes. Concrete is a mixture of water, cement and aggregates – such as sand and gravel.
To help clear the confusion, and to help you understand the importance of cement and how it impacts the eventual concrete mixture, let’s take a look at it more closely.
What is cement?
As we’ve said, cement is a binding material and is one of the main ingredients of your typical concrete mix. Cement and water form a paste, which binds the aggregates together as the mixture begins to harden and set.
Cement is made up of calcium, aluminium, iron and silicon. The main ingredients of cement are typically clay, limestone and sand, as well as various other materials. All of the ingredients are crushed and grinded together before being heated to incredibly high temperatures inside an industrial kiln.
The materials undergo a chemical reaction and form a new substance called ‘clinker’, which takes a small, pellet shape. The clinker is then grinded further into a fine powder, which can then be recognisably identified as cement.
Cement’s role in concrete
Concrete is one of the most versatile building materials in the world, and there is a lot of variety when to comes to the desired mix itself. The water-cement ratio is the most important consideration for any concrete mix. This ratio will help decide the final strength of the concrete, as well as its workability and durability in the future.
A concrete mix with too much water and not enough cement will be substantially weaker than a more balanced water-cement ratio. Too little water, however, and the concrete will be much tougher to work with.
It’s critical to attain the right mix for your purposes, whether you’re simply constructing a DIY concrete patio, or working on a much larger scale construction project.
While cement is a key ingredient of concrete, some extra materials can be used to offset or enhance certain features of your chosen mix. Plasticisers, or superplasticisers, can be added to help boost workability, for example, so mixes with a lower water-cement ratio can retain the desired strength without being tough to form or work with.
Other additives can be used in order to reduce setting rate of the concrete, accelerate strength development, reduce the required water content of a mix, and more. In some cases, the presence of additives might reduce the amount of cement needed, too, which can help make mixes more affordable – cement is commonly the most expensive ingredient of any concrete mix.
Ready mix concrete
The advantage of ready mix concrete is that it can be tailor-made to suit the requirements of your project. Ready mix concrete is mixed by the experts, using the the most durable aggregates, as well as the correct water-cement ratio to ensure an entirely suitable mix whether you’re looking to lay a driveway, or construct some sturdy, robust foundations.
All you need to do is speak to your concrete supplier and let them know the exact details of your project. The mix will be proportioned and delivered to your site, where it will be ready to pour without delay.
Ever Readymix Concrete are leading suppliers of ready mix concrete throughout the Yorkshire region. We provide concrete to suit any commercial or domestic project, and ensure a prompt delivery and dedicated, friendly service from our experienced team – all at a competitive price. To find out more about our services, or to discuss your project, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today – we are always happy to help.