Choosing Between Concrete, Mortar and Cement

Choosing Between Concrete, Mortar and Cement

Cement, mortar and concrete are all common building materials. Some people even use the terms interchangeably. However, if you're planning a construction project, you need to understand the differences between the three — and which is best for your job. 

What Is Cement?

Contrary to what many people believe, cement is not a solid material. It's a fine powder that serves as the binding element when making mortar and concrete. Limestone is the primary ingredient in cement products, and they also contain silica sand, seashells and clay. To make cement, the manufacturer crushes these ingredients and combines them with iron ore and other materials, then heats them to approximately 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Portland cement is the most common type of cement used in construction projects because of its hydraulic properties — it sets and hardens quickly when combined with water. 

You can't use cement by itself — it only serves as a binder when manufacturing other products. 

What Is Concrete?

Concrete is the building material that serves as the "backbone" of the construction industry. Foundation walls are typically made of concrete. It's also used extensively in bridges, dams, roadways and other common structures. 

Cement is a primary ingredient in concrete, but it also contains sand, gravel and an assortment of fine and coarse aggregates. To make concrete, you can purchase bags containing a mixture of these materials that are ready to combine with water. For larger construction projects, you can buy truckloads of "ready-mix" concrete and have them delivered to your site. You can then use concrete buggies to transport the material from the truck to specific locations. 

What Is Mortar?

Like concrete, cement serves as a key ingredient when manufacturing construction site mortar. The mixture also contains fine sand, lime and water. Mortar isn't as strong and durable as concrete, so it isn't useful as a standalone building material. Its primary purpose is to act as a binding material to hold together bricks, stone or concrete blocks. Mortar comes in different consistencies — it's important to choose the right type to achieve the desired thinness or thickness for your project. 

Where to Get Equipment for Your Mortar or Concrete Project

Whether your jobs require mortar, concrete or both, you'll need the right equipment for the task. For many companies, renting provides the most affordable and convenient solution. The Cat® Rental Store in your area offers an assortment of products that will improve the results at your construction sites — everything from mortar mixers and walk-behind power trowels to concrete buckets, buggies, grinders and much more. 

When you partner with your local dealer through The Cat Rental Store, you'll get high-quality products at competitive rates and flexible terms. You'll also have access to expert advice on proper cement, concrete and mortar use on construction sites.

To learn more about the differences between cement, mortar and concrete and how they impact your construction business and projects, give The Cat Rental Store a call at 1-800-RENT-CAT today. You can also contact us online to get a quick rental equipment quote.

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