Concrete, Cement and Mortar

Concrete, Cement and Mortar


What’s the Difference Between Cement, Concrete, and Mortar?

The major differences between cement, concrete, and mortar are their ingredients and specific uses. This article gives the comparison of concrete vs. cement vs. mortar, which includes all aspects like their composition and uses.
Cement, concrete, and mortar are common terms one gets to hear during any construction or repair activity. Still, for the common man, there is a lot of confusion between the three. While cement is the starting material for both concrete and mortar, the latter two have their own niches in the construction business.

While concrete can be used independently of the other two to build strong and long-lasting structures, mortar is used as a ‘glue’ to hold together different bricks while building a wall. But neither concrete nor mortar can be produced without using cement in some quantity. It is concrete which is the strongest, in comparison.

All three materials have different strengths and properties, which helps decide where they should be used. Cement undergoes chemical changes when mixed with water to form a hard structure. This is the main reason why it is used for making both, concrete and mortar. This chemical transformation of cement helps bring out the strengths of the other two materials. When looking at the comparison of cement vs. concrete vs. mortar, it’s vital to consider their major differences, such as when to use them.


Cement is a powdery ingredient of both concrete and mortar and is made up of lime, silica, alumina, iron, and gypsum.

Concrete is made up of cement, sand, water, and some coarse aggregate such as rock chips, pebbles or crushed stone.

Mortar consists of a binding agent, sand, water, and lime. The binding agent is generally cement, though slaked lime may also be substituted. Mortar differs from concrete, in that, it does not contain any coarse aggregate.


It is used as an ingredient of concrete and mortar. It works as a glue which holds the sand and aggregate together in concrete.
Cement slurry is used to fill cracks in concrete structures.
It is used to make lamp posts, railway sleepers, cement pipes, and telephone poles.
Cement cannot be used by itself, like concrete.

It is used in construction work, because of its capacity to bear heavy loads. It is used in support beams, concrete pilings, and supports.
It can be used alone to construct a concrete wall, driveways, sidewalks, blocks, beams, and slabs.
It is used in the construction of buildings, runways, dams, and bridges, because of its durability.
It is used for decorating fireplaces, porches, and pool decks.
Concrete is one of the most widely used construction materials.

Because of its low strength, mortar cannot be used alone.
It is used as an adhesive to bind masonry units such as bricks and stones together while constructing walls.
It is used to fix tiles on floors. Before laying tiles, a layer of mortar can be applied on the floor.
It is used to repair walls with gaps between the bricks. Mortar can be prepared and used to fill the gap, thus strengthening the wall.

Thus, while concrete and mortar are stronger, they cannot be produced without their main ingredient – cement. Cement, concrete, and mortar, all have their respective uses in construction work, and substituting one for the other can be dangerous for any structure.

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