The Difference between Mortar, Cement & Concrete

The terms mortar, cement and concrete are often used interchangeably, however any professional in the construction industry will be quick to tell you that each one is not only made up of a different formula, but also serves a different purpose. Cement, concrete and mortar each play an important role in building and construction. You will often see all three substances used in the process of a building’s construction.
 

Cement


Cement is a vital ingredient in both concrete and mortar mixtures, which explains why it’s name is often used to refer to the two.

Texture and ingredients

Cement is a dry, powdery substance, unlike mortar or concrete which are both thick, paste like substances before they harden. Cement is made up of naturally occurring substances, often these include lime, clay, slate and chalk (amongst others).

Uses

Cement is a binder, used to blend a mixture’s components together. You will rarely see cement used on its own. Cement is a fundamental element of both mortar and concrete mixtures. Cement is also at the base of many other construction materials including floor screeds and plaster.

Mortar


Mortar is a thick paste used to hold together bricks, stones, tiles and other masonry structures.

Texture and Ingredients

Essentially, mortar is a mixture of cement, water and sand. Each element in a mortar mixture works with one another to ultimately create a strong, thick, workable paste. The water is absorbed by the cement and binds together with the sand to create grainy thick substance.

Uses

Mortar is used in masonry to bind together individual bricks, stones or tiles. Mortar dries hard to help form strong, durable structures.

Concrete


The components used to form concrete are very similar to that of mortar, the only differences being the proportions of each element and the use of aggregates, however while the recipies of each mixture may be similar the end results are very different.

Texture and ingredients

Unlike a mortar mixture which is made up of only sand, cement and water, a concrete mixture also includes large, coarse aggregates such as gravel or ballast . If you were to look at a concrete and mortar mixture side by side, you would quickly notice that concrete is a thinner mixture than mortar.

Uses

Concrete is used for many different applications, and so each mixture is formulated slightly differently depending on its purpose. The aggregates used in a concrete mixture help to determine a concretes workability and function. For example in our watertight concrete mixture we incorporate specifically designed admixtures during the batching stage. In contrast in our permeable concrete mixture we use a single sized coarse aggregate in combination with strict cement and water measurements. 
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