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What's the difference between "cement," "concrete" and "mortar?"

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Question: What's the difference between "cement," "concrete" and "mortar?"
Answer: Often, the terms "cement," "concrete" and "mortar" are used almost interchangeably by the layman in conversations about cement mixing. However, the terms refer to substances that have three different purposes:
  • Cement: The binding element in both concrete and mortar.
  • Concrete: A product composed of cement, sand and gravel or other coarse aggregate. When water is mixed in with this product, it activates the cement, which is the element responsible for binding the mix together to form one solid object.
  • Mortar: A product composed of cement and sand. When water is mixed in with this product, the cement is activated. Whereas concrete can stand alone, mortar is used to hold together bricks, stones or other such hardscape components.
Cement mixing therefore, properly speaking, refers to using cement in the mixing of mortar or concrete.

Mortar is sometimes used between bricks in the building of brick patios, although it is not always used in such cases. For instance, in northern climes, where mortar could well crack in winter, the bricks may be simply fitted tightly against each other.

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