What is the Difference Between Concrete and Cement

Concrete and Cement

The words concrete and cement are often used interchangeably by many people. This makes it confusing if you don’t know that these items are actually two different things. Builders and people who use these materials on a regular basis might also find it confusing. In fact, they sometimes refer to cement when they mean concrete. To make concrete, you first need cement. Cement is a basic and essential ingredient in the production of concrete. Concrete is comprised of cement, gravel, sand, and water. Once you know that cement is used to make concrete, you will have a good understanding of which term to use when referring to one of these materials.

As mentioned, concrete is a mixture of aggregates and paste. These pastes are made of cement (often referred to as Portland cement) and water. The aggregates are gravel or crushed stone and sand. Portland cement is the generic name for cement that is used in making concrete. Therefore, we can say there is a concrete sidewalk, but there is no such thing as cement sidewalk. The proper ways to use these terms are concrete sidewalk and cement mixer, not vice versa. In the end, cement and concrete aren’t the same. This post should help you to understand better, and also clear up any misunderstandings you have with these terms.

Concrete and Cement


In a concrete mixture, cement is the binder. This is like flour in a cake recipe. The main purpose of cement is to hold every other material together. Cement is made from clay, limestone, silica, shells, and other materials. These materials are then put into a crusher and crushed along with other ingredients. Afterwards, the crushed materials are heated in a silo to 2,700 Fahrenheit. The resulting material is known as clinker, and it is then ground into a fine powder. The most commonly used cement in construction is Portland cement. It is referred to as Portland cement because it was first made in England, on the Isle of Portland, in the 1800s.

A chemical process is triggered when water is added to cement. This makes the cement harden.


For the foundation of a building to be strong, a good-quality concrete is required. This starts out by mixing dry components together with paste to form a liquid and flexible material which can take any shape or mold. This liquid material usually gets stronger when exposed to air and stays in hard rock form for a long time. The hard rock material is the concrete. In fact, concrete becomes harder the longer it sits, or cures.

To form a solid object when you have sand, gravel, and water, you need cement to achieve this. Cement acts as a binder for all these ingredients. There are pre-made, ready-to-purchase concrete materials which have been mixed with cement, all you need to do is add water. This kind of material is good for small projects, such as installing fence posts or other landscape fixtures. For large construction purposes, it is usually advised that bags of cement be bought and mixed with sand and gravel. To achieve a strong and long-lasting concrete, you need to proportion the ingredients and mix them well. The paste should be enough to bind all aggregates.

Concrete and Cement

Cement vs Concrete

  • Cement looks like a grey powder while concrete is a mixture of cement, water, sand, and gravel.
  • Cement mixers mix the cement which in turn is used to make concrete sidewalks.
  • Cement is the element that binds and holds the sand and stone together to make concrete.
  • Cement does not dry but hardens through a process called hydration. As concrete dries, it becomes stronger as it ages.
  • Cement is made in a cement factory, while basic concrete can be mixed at home by yourself.
  • Without cement in proper proportion, a good and durable concrete cannot be produced.

Other Concrete Ingredients

When mixing concrete, the other ingredients comprise 60% to 70% of the total volume of concrete. The size and type of sand or gravel you use depend on the volume or how thick you want your concrete to be. Ingredients used to make concrete should be free of any material that might affect the quality of the concrete. Any natural water which has no odor may be used to mix the concrete.

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