When it comes to DIY, the terms ready mixed cement and ready mixed concrete are often used interchangeably. In many cases, they’re used in the wrong context too. For example, cement is commonly used to describe the mixture used in between bricks to build walls. However, this is actually mortar. People may say that paving slabs, breezeblock and walls are made of cement too – but this isn’t strictly true, although cement does play a part. All this means it is easy to see why there is so much confusion surrounding these building materials.
So, just what is ready mixed cement and concrete and is there a difference between the two?
This guide is here to shed some light and help you pick the right building material for your needs.
What’s The Difference Between Ready Mix Concrete And Cement?
Technically, there is no such thing as ready mixed cement. The correct term is ready mixed concrete.
So, where’s the confusion?
Well, cement does exist. It usually comes in a powder form. If it is a hydraulic cement, you need to add water, and then it will harden. Non-hydraulic cement hardens when there is no water present. Cement acts as a binder. It works to hold materials together, but cement alone is not strong enough for many building projects. For example, you cannot build a wall out of cement. Cement cannot readily withstand adverse weather conditions and can crack easily.
Cement, however, is a vital ingredient in concrete. By mixing cement with an aggregate such as sand, gravel and rock particles, you create concrete; a robust and sturdy building material, ready for DIY projects.
So, is a truck with a spinning mixer on the back a cement mixer or a concrete mixer? While people will often say it’s a cement mixer, it’s actually a concrete mixer. The purpose of the spinner is to keep the aggregate (sand, rocks, gravel particles) spread evenly throughout the mix. It also helps to make sure the aggregate doesn’t bond with the cement in the mixture until it is ready to pour and set.
To the untrained eye, a cement mix and a concrete mix can look the same, so it is no wonder that there is confusion surrounding these two building materials. However, they have different uses, so it is essential to make sure you pick up the right material for your needs.
When Should I Use Ready Mixed Cement?
Cement is typically bought from DIY shops in relatively small bags of powder consistency. DIYers can then add water as necessary and use this cement material as required. As long of the cement powder remains dry, it is usable – so it is vital to store cement in the right conditions.
Another way you can purchase cement is in a paste format which comes in a small tub. As soon as it reacts with the air, it begins to harden. With this in mind, a container of cement paste is a one-time-only use. You may use this to stick thigs to together. For example, white cement may be chosen as an alternative for mortar to create a fresher, cleaner-looking finish.
You can help to improve cement with additives to make it waterproof, for example. This is particularly useful for grouting. Again, cement as a grout doesn’t have much stability but does help to fill gaps. Usually, cement is just the base ingredient for which to make mortar or concrete.
So, what’s mortar? Mortar is made from cement and lime, which makes the mixture more durable – ideal for ‘glueing’ bricks together.
When Should I Use Ready Mixed Concrete?
Concrete is when you want a sturdy building material – ideal for walls, patios and foundations. It Is possible to make your own concrete by choosing your own aggregate and mixing with cement. However, it is essential to mix with care. Different aggregate can cause a variety of concrete consistencies.
If you’re looking for a really smooth finish, then you want a really fine aggregate. Often it is best to opt for ready mixed concrete that has been professionally and carefully mixed to ensure it is perfect for your specific use.
The real benefit of concrete is that it is incredibly versatile. Depending on what you want to create, you can tailor the concrete to suit your needs. For example, reinforced concrete is ideal for weight-bearing projects such as bridges. On the other hand, if the concrete will be submerged in water, then you can add an additive to help create watertight structures.
At Maxi, we create many different concrete options, suitable for a range of users. For example, we even have a special concrete option for agriculture and farming. This concrete can help to make sure that heavy machinery doesn’t cause damage to the concreted surface.
So, whatever you are creating, it is likely that ready mixed concrete will be what you’ll need. Just make sure to choose the right type of concrete for the purpose – whether that’s a smooth finish, load-bearing, watertight, or something else entirely!
If you need more help understanding the difference, or want help finding the right ready mixed concrete for your needs, get in touch with our team of concrete experts today!