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Cement vs Concrete | Which is Better For A DIY Project?

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As a DIYer, I’m always interested in finding inexpensive materials to use in my home projects. For example, cement can be used to make candles holders, flower pots, and even kitchen counters, just to name a few. However, it’s essential to understand the difference between cement vs concrete as the integrity and appearance of your project depends on it.

Increasing our knowledge and awareness about the difference between the two will help us plan and decide what type of material we will need to purchase. Hence, we can invest in a good value of our hard-earned money.

Along the way, I’ll provide you with some cool home projects that you can tackle using these cheap building material. 

Table of Contents

What is Cement?

Cement vs concrete which to use for your projects

According to Concrete Network, cement is the “glue” that fixes the concrete together. It is a fine powder made up of crushed minerals like limestone and clay. These materials go into a complex and delicate process to make a product that will function as a binder.

Cement can be made can be transformed into different materials and products. There is a cement product that is made of crushed rocks with burnt lime, volcanic ash, and brick supplements. These various innovations are coming out in the market to compete, and show-off low costs with effective results.

As cement functions as a unique and suitable adhesive and binding agent, but on its own, it is vulnerable to cracking. Cement is the main element in making concrete. Concrete is the finished-product that we use in building foundations, driveways, roads, homes, and other small, medium, and massive constructions you see every day.

Can Cement Be Used By Itself?

DIY home projects using Cement

It depends on the project you plan on creating.

Since concrete is made up of cement this statement is what makes everyone confused between cement and concrete. When the cement mixture is mixed with water, it creates a paste substance. The paste is combined with aggregates like gravel and sand to becomes concrete.

Cement vs Concrete | Concrete Is More Durable

Cement is like the milk, and concrete is the ice cream. Milk by itself is excellent and useful. It already tastes good, but not as high as the taste of ice cream. To make ice cream (by-product), you need to use milk as the main ingredient plus all other fruits and syrup ingredients (aggregates).

When it hardens, it becomes a tasty ice cream that everybody will love, just like any concrete product. Can you tell I love ice cream?

Concrete Is For Large Projects | Cement Is For Smaller Jobs

We already know that school buildings, bridges, sidewalks, roads, and other infrastructures are concrete. But other concrete-based projects that you might now know are those DIY projects like landscaping, kitchen counter tops, or pathway around your house.

In contrast, cement works for smaller than the recent projects I mentioned. Some of the common examples are grouting, wall finishing, and crack repairs.

Home Improvement Stores Offer Various Concrete Products

Before buying any concrete product, you must be sure to know the pros and cons and options available. Not all concrete is the same. There are different types of cement and also the quality of cement used in those concrete products.

Different Types Of Cements

Different Types Of Cements
TYPE 1 - These are commonly used for general purposes. No special properties required for a particular purpose
Type 2 - It has moderate resistance to sulfates. This type of cement is commonly sold in North America
Type 3 - It has a relatively high early strength. Allows you to remove the forms sooner
Type 4 - It has a low heat of hydration. Used in massive construction projects. The power is a slower rate than other types of cement
Type 5 - It is only used to ensure the structure from becoming highly resistant from the sulfate. It develops strength at a slower rate.

How Do You Make A Cement?

The process of making the cement starts from the extraction of limestone and other materials in a quarry. These materials go through a complicated process mixing with sand, clay, shale, iron ore, gypsum, and other minerals and produce the raw meal. The coarse meal is brought to a kiln with a very high temperature (2,642 degrees F).

The high temperature in processing the raw meal will facilitate the structural changes and chemical reactions. It will result in the formation of new compounds that will make the strength of the cement.

There will be white-hot chunks that emerge from the kiln, which is called “clinker.” The laboratory technicians will collect the samples of clinker to check the fineness, consistency, strength, and heat hydration.

When the clinker achieves the standards, these will be grounded into fine cement powder. The packaging process came next and sold in bulk and transported.

What Is Concrete?

As we discussed, the concrete is the by-product as a result of mixing the cement with the aggregates, water, and admixtures. They are initially malleable in a wet state and solidifies to gain strength and robustness.

Not all concrete has the same strength. It depends on how quality is the mixture of the aggregates:

  • Cement: the binder holds all materials
  • Aggregates: coarse and fine sand
  • Water: the most important mixture and a quality determinant. Water has two purposes;
    • For hydration to create a chemical reaction
    • Aid the work-ability of the cement
    • Admixtures: Examples of these are chemical retarders, accelerators, water reducers

Various Concrete Types:

  • Self- consolidation concrete- highly flowable and ideal for precast concrete
  • Polymer concrete- pressed rather than poured. They are familiar with making a structure resistant from high corrosion like a sanitary sewer.
  • Ready mixed-concrete- these are products that are manufactured in manufacturing plants and delivered to sites. It uses admixtures to optimize strength and become resilient from different weather conditions.

Cement vs Concrete | Which Is Better?

Concrete is a sustainable option. It can stand for years and gain strength as it ages. Concrete is energy efficient building material because it can absorb heat.

This is the reason it works best for kitchen countertops.

Recycled materials like concrete from old buildings and demolished bridges can be mixed into concrete and attain the same quality.

Benefits of Using Concrete In House Construction

Save on Energy Bills

A home can save of up to 20-25% costs of annual heating and cooling. Savings can still vary depending on the number and type windows and doors as well as location. The concrete walls are the best insulators.

Comfortable and Tranquil

Houses build in concrete have walls that better air temperatures and less drafty. The thermal mass buffers the home interior from the extreme outdoor heat. The use of foam insulation can minimize the temperature fluctuations inside the house, such as eliminating the cold spots.

Pest Proof

Avoid pests like termites that can destroy house wood-based structures

Healthy Indoor Environment

If your concrete is using mixtures like ICF, it avoids the growth of mold, mildew, and other harmful microorganisms. It also filters air and prevents the allergens from coming from the outdoors from getting inside.

Safe From Strong Winds

Today, engineering technologies in the use of concrete homes are scaling-up. Areas that are vulnerable to hurricanes and tornadoes are improving their concrete structural walls to stand against the fierce of the storms. For example, ICF walls are developed to support walls to withstand against flying debris thrown by the strong winds of tornadoes and hurricanes.

Fire Resistant

Many of the concrete home technologies are using flame retardants to avoid fueling fire when it happens. Hence, insurance companies recognize that concrete as one significant factor in mitigating the potential hazards.

Less Repair and Maintenance Cost

Concrete is not vulnerable to rotting and deterioration. If reinforced with steel by burying inside the concrete, it will not rust and corrode.

Today’s structural trend is going green. Green building involves better design, high-quality materials, and maximizing performance and resource conservation. Concrete is the way to go to make you build exceptional homes.

In Conclusion

Many times, we hear everyone equating concrete to cement structures as the same. Even the rotating drums of large vehicles, we refer them as cement trucks. After all, it is not startling that people mix up the sedimentary mixes because they all look alike behave similarly. 

Okay, you probably received more of a science lesson than you were hoping for, but when comparing Cement vs Concrete, its crucial to understand the difference. Plus, by educating yourself on building materials, you will be in a better position to talk “the contractor lingo,” which will help protect you from dishonest people.

Let’s face it when your house has an issue with its concrete foundation, or exterior steps your goal is to fix the problem rapidly. In that position, anyone can be easily persuaded.     

For more home styling tips and tricks drop by anytime. Hey, we’re always up for company. In the meantime you may enjoy reading How To Create The German Schmear Look or Best Home Improvements To Raise Your Home Value.

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Die-hard DIYer, home enthusiast and sometimes I cook :-)

This Post Has One Comment

  1. SumasMasonry

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