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Concrete vs Cement

Concrete and cement are two essential components in semi-floating floor systems. Concrete provides the necessary structural support and durability, while cement acts as a glue between particles of sand, gravel, or crushed stone that comprise the subfloor.

“Concrete is used to make sidewalks, driveways, freeways -you name it; it’s everywhere,” says Phil Davis, vice president of sales with Dura Ceramic Tile. “Cement is used to bind aggregate materials together.” As such, concrete often requires much more water than cement during mixing and placement.

So, what are the main differences between concrete and cement?

Concrete is often made with water, sand, gravel or crushed stone, and Portland cement. Cement is a binder that hardens when combined with water and other materials. It’s called “portland” because the first type of manufactured cement was developed in England by Joseph Aspdin of Leeds around 1824; he named it after the white-colored rock quarried on the Isle of Portland off the British coast.

When portland cement is mixed with water, sand, and gravel (which are largely composed of silicon dioxide), it turns into concrete: a mixture that has great strength and durability.

Cement is made from limestone by heating raw materials to produce clinker — a substance that’s actually more refined than cement. Clinker is ground into a powder that can be used immediately or stored until it’s needed in concrete production.

Concrete, by contrast, needs to cure for anywhere from one month to three years before its strength and durability are at their peak. In addition, much more water is necessary during the mixing process to create workable concrete.

Concrete is a lot heavier than cement. It takes a lot more energy and labor costs to place it. Specialists note that the raw materials differ as well: Concrete uses aggregate starting material – sand or crushed stone -while cement uses clinker that’s made from limestone. However, even though the ingredients may vary slightly, both Portland cement and portland-style concrete contain the same components.

Concrete can be poured in place or set in a form that’s left to dry before being demolded, usually within several days. In contrast, because it cures slowly and needs to be protected from elements such as rain and wind, concrete must be poured in a thin layer at a time, often requiring forms. The forms also keep the curing concrete from cracking due to ground settlement or stress caused by weather conditions or other factors.

Producing difference

Cement: as we already mentioned, the most common type of manufactured cement is called Portland cement. It is a fine powder that binds with sand and gravel (or other aggregates) to form concrete when mixed with water.

Concrete: composed mainly of aggregates such as sand, gravel, crushed stone, and/or slag; Portland cement; water; and admixtures such as fly ash or silica fume. All materials are combined so they chemically react to each other while hardening into a new material – concrete – which creates building structures, roads, sidewalks, etc.

So Concrete vs Cement can be summarized this way:

Cement = Concrete + Water Clinker.

Concrete = Cement + Aggregate (Sand, gravel, crushed stone).

Price difference

The market price for Portland cement is now around $140 a ton. In contrast, according to Ceramic Tile Institute of America statistics, one ton of dry cement mix costs between $80 and $100. Ready-mix concrete sells at an average price of 64 cents a pound.

On the other hand, a bag of cement sold at retail outlets usually runs about 38 cents a pound, so it’s slightly cheaper by volume compared to ready-mix concrete. Ready-mixed concrete is typically delivered by large trucks that can hold from 1 to 10 cubic yards of material, while are usually brought to job sites in a wheelbarrow.

According to the Portland Cement Association, one ready-mix concrete truck holds about 0.1 to 0.15 cubic yards of material. Since a bag of cement weighs 94 pounds and a yard is 27 cubic feet, you would need almost six bags of dry cement mix for every cubic yard of concrete produced if you were using pure portland-cement concrete. So there’s a big price difference in favor of their product! A traditional installation, therefore, offers substantial cost savings along with convenience.

Usage difference

Concrete is used in many applications, generally requiring thicker material. Concrete is generally poured into forms that are reusable while cement is set in place and usually demolded soon after the setting has occurred. It must always be protected from the elements while curing.

Cement by itself can be hard when mixed with water but it’s not very strong. When combined with aggregate (sand) and water, however, portland cement becomes extremely strong because of the chemical reaction which occurs when it sets.

This type of concrete should only be used where maximum strength is required since it takes longer to achieve full cure time than will for example DuraFloor’s product; it also needs special protective covering during its initial cure period to protect against damage due to weather conditions or other factors.

DuraFloor has a special formula to provide all the features of concrete, but without taking so much time. Because it is only mixed with water, it’s much easier to use than traditional concrete, and can be poured onto virtually any surface without needing the use of forms. The material cures quickly, due to its chemical reaction with water, and can be used anywhere you might normally use regular concrete.

Construction differences

It’s extremely difficult to pour concrete into forms that are completely tight, but any crack or space can cause a significant reduction in the strength of the final material. Furthermore, the waterproofing system used on top of all three layers creates an impermeable surface that resists mold growth so there’s no need for chemical treatments after installation to prevent damage due to mold growth.

Concrete requires while cement does not require reinforcing other than for special applications.

Pros and cons of the two materials

In the construction industry, traditional poured concrete is still considered by many to be a superior product. Concrete has been used in thousands of construction projects since it was introduced over 100 years ago, and experts have developed processes for ensuring that concrete built with portland cement will perform as intended.

One advantage of concrete is it can be easily molded into many different shapes and designs while cement cannot. This allows for a certain degree of creativity in design depending on the application. However, this also means that finished concrete surfaces must have formwork removed by cutting away parts of the mold, whereas cement requires no such removal process.

Also, if you want to smooth out traditional poured-concrete floors so they don’t have any bumps or ridges, you have to pour a fresh layer on top of the old one, whereas cement does not require additional layers.

Concrete has a very high compressive strength and is considered a good material for projects where compression might be an issue, such as deep foundations. Also, concrete can be colored or tinted during the mixing process so you don’t have to worry about painting or staining after installation.

However, these colors will fade over time so this option should only be used if you’re okay with that happening. Cement by itself provides little resistance to physical stress since it’s hard but brittle unless combined with aggregate (sand). It, therefore, requires some sort of coating which offers sufficient protection from abrasion and physical abuse based on the application.

Concrete has high thermal conductivity and will thus transfer heat to the exterior of your home during cold weather, which can reduce indoor heating efficiency. Cement is very similar in this respect but requires more insulation depending on the application.

One way to deal with this issue is to install radiant-heating tubing beneath concrete or cement, but DuraFloor’s solution does not require much additional work since its vinyl cellular structure provides excellent insulation without absorbing moisture as poured concrete would.


1. Is DuraFloor stronger than concrete?

DuraFloor is as strong as concrete or even stronger for some applications, and it actually has a higher tear resistance than concrete does, which means that you can put your home’s appliances on tops of it such as washers and dryers without worrying about the material giving way.

2. How long does installation take?

About one day, including curing time. Your actual work will only take about six hours with two people after preparation is complete by mixing and preparing your compound according to product specifications provided in the manual included in each kit.

3. Does it need to be heated before pouring?

No, but paint thinner on top of all three layers before pouring will help them bond more effectively.

4. Does it shrink or expand with changing temperatures?

No, that’s why heating is not needed before pouring. You can use this flooring all year round, both in cold and warm weather.

5. How smooth does the surface need to be?

It doesn’t have to be perfectly flat but if you do encounter any ridges or bumps after installation, you can fill these with a joint compound made for concrete work followed by sanding so they are completely flush with your concrete floor (this isn’t necessary when using cement). Then apply a layer of paint thinner on top and pour your material to prevent future problems.

Concrete vs Cement: Which one should I choose?

  • If you want something that will last for many years then select standard Portland cement-based products (concrete).
  • If you need something quick which will work in wet conditions like rain or snow then Dura Floor is best for you! Just remember that your savings in flooring costs will pay for the product quickly, so it’s a great solution even if you have to replace it in a few years.

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