When it comes to masonry construction, there are a variety of different materials used in the process. From the actual building materials to the materials used to hold everything together, it can be really confusing. Cement, concrete, and mortar are terms that are often used interchangeably and they all resemble each other. However, they are very different. Here is the difference between cement, concrete, and mortar.
Cement is actually a component of both concrete and mortar. It is a binding material that is never used alone and is made up of limestone, clay, shells, and silica sand. These materials are crushed, combined with other ingredients, and heated. The final product is then grounded into a powder that is cement. The most common type of cement is Portland cement, which sets and hardens when combined with water.
Concrete is a stand alone building material that doesn’t have to be combined with anything else. It is made of cement, sand, and gravel and is used for things like foundation walls, patios, and other masonry structures. Concrete is more versatile than the other two because it starts as a dry mixture and turns into liquid that can mold into any shape before it dries into concrete. The cement in the concrete is what allows it to activate when mixed with water and binds the mixture together to form one object.
Similar to concrete, all you have to do is add water to mortar to activate the cement and allow it to harden. However, mortar is only made up of cement and sand. Because of this, it isn’t as strong as concrete so it isn’t often used as a stand alone building material. Instead, it is more so used as a glue to hold masonry materials together such as bricks, block, and stone. There is a special type of mortar known as thinset that can hold together tiles.
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