cement mix

Cement ‘vs’ Concrete – What’s the difference?

Although concrete and cement are two terms often used interchangeably, they are two different materials. Even among builders and contractors, you may often hear the words used interchangeably even though they are not the same. Therefore, it is essential to understand the difference between the two materials. This knowledge will give you an insight into the suitable material to use for construction. The differences can be summarised under:

  • General definition and composition
  • Uses
  • Production Process and working mechanism
  • Types, and
  • Durability

General definition and composition …

Cement: Is a popular and cheap binding material used for building components like tiles, bricks, etc. The cement is a grey-coloured powdery substance made from limestone, aluminium, silica, magnesium, iron oxide, calcium sulphate, sulphur trioxide, and alkaline. It is also a component or material used in making mortar and concrete.

Concrete: Concrete is a building material that is a mixture of aggregates (coarse and fine materials like stones, gravel, or sand) to provide strength, adhesive materials like cement and asphalt for glueing the aggregates, and water. It is often used for foundation walls and cement slabs. Admixtures are also used sometimes when there is a need to speed up or slow down the process.

Cement is, therefore, a component of the concrete material.

Uses …

Cement: The uses include;

  • Used in mortar for plastering and masonry work
  • Used in concrete for laying floors, roofs, lintels, stairs and pillars
  • Making joints for drains and pipes
  • Protecting exposed surfaces of structures against chemicals and unfavourable weathers
  • Used as a material in the construction of bridges, dams and other important projects
  • Used as a material for foundation construction
  • Making joints for pipes and drains

Concrete: Its uses include;

  • Used as aggregate in roadbeds or as granular material for making new concrete
  • Used for building bridges
  • Accommodating steel reinforcement for gates and tunnel lines
  • Building decorative concrete floors
  • Constructing driveways and patios
  • Construction material for underground use
  • Material for the construction of commercial and residential buildings
  • Building concrete walls

Production process and working mechanism …


This is commonly made from limestone, silica sand, shells, and clay, among others. These materials are ground and mixed with ingredients like iron ore and then heated to approximately 2700F in a furnace known as a kiln, the result of this is a ball called a clinker which is further ground and processed to form a fine powder. This fine powder is then packaged as cement and sold. The users will have to mix the cement with water to form a paste. However, an aggregate is needed for the binding effect

Hydration is a hardening chemical process that allows water molecules to bind with chemicals in the cement.


Concrete is obtained by mixing materials like cement, sand, and gravel, or other coarse and fine aggregates with water. The water serves as the ingredient that activates the cement in the mixture for the binding effect to form a paste. This paste is then poured into a mould for the hardening and solidifying process to begin. Some other vital materials used include gypsum and admixtures. Accelerating admixtures are used to speed up the hardening process, while retarding admixtures are used to slow down the process. The gypsum also determines how long it will take for the concrete to harden. Cement is also essential to control the strength of the concrete by varying the ratio of water to cement. A high ratio of water to cement will result in weak concrete, while a low ratio will strengthen the concrete.

Types of Cement and Concrete …

Cement: The types include;

  • Ordinary Portland (OPC)
  • Hydrophobic
  • Portland Pozzolana (PPC)
  • Expansive
  • Rapid hardening
  • Air Entraining
  • Quick setting
  • Coloured
  • Low heat
  • White Cement
  • Sulphate Resisting
  • High Alumina
  • Blast Furnace

Concrete: The types of concrete are;

  • Regular Concrete
  • High-strength Concrete
  • Stamped Concrete
  • High-performance Concrete
  • Self Consolidating Concrete
  • Vacuum Concrete
  • Shotcrete
  • Roller-compacted Concrete
  • Glass Concrete
  • Asphalt Concrete
  • Rapid Strength Concrete
  • Polymer concrete
  • Limecrete
  • Light-transmitting Concrete

Durability …

Experts and users have verified that concrete is more durable than cement. Concrete is said to last for hundreds of years and is therefore recommended for long term projects.

Here at Maxi we specialise in Ready Mixed Concrete for and DIY or Commercial Project so why not talk to the team today!