UPDATE: What is concrete made out of?

Do you ever wonder what the difference between concrete and cement is? Or maybe you’ve been amazed by polished concrete floors and are wondering how they’re installed? Below we’ll explain what concrete is made of, how it’s constructed, and differentiate between concrete and cement.

Concrete is an incredibly durable material that makes up most of the structures around the world. That is because it is fairly easy to make and is one of the strongest substances. Oftentimes people confuse concrete and cement, but cement is essentially what’s used to make concrete.

What is concrete made of?

The basic concrete mix has three elements: portland cement, water, and aggregates such as rock, sand, stone, and glass. Portland cement and water are used to create the paste that will eventually harden around the aggregates.

One important thing to understand is the water to concrete ratio. You want to create an outcome that is both malleable throughout laying the concrete and that after the hydration process will leave you with strong, durable concrete. The typical mix is 10 to 15 percent portland cement, 15 to 20 percent water, 60 to 75 percent aggregates, and 5 to 8 percent entrained air. Now that we have answered what concrete is made out of, we can discuss how it’s constructed.

How is concrete constructed?

The most durable concrete is well proportioned between the three ingredients. If the mix has too much paste, the surface will be rough and porous, making it difficult to install. It’s important to get the water to concrete ratio right when it comes to the durability and strength of concrete. The desired properties of concrete are workable (it can be easily placed by your crew), hardened qualities (you know what you’re trying to achieve and can ensure it has the proper strength), and economy (correct ratio).

What’s also important is the type of water used. Impure water can affect the overall strength and setting time. Other risks include efflorescence, staining, corrosion of reinforcement, volume instability, and reduced durability. Choosing the type of water for your mix is not as complicated as choosing the type of aggregates. The type of aggregate you choose will be dependent on the final product which is being used and determine the thickness. 

Once the water and aggregates have been mixed it will begin to harden. This is known as a chemical reaction. The curing concrete process starts after the surface of the concrete has become solid to resist marring. Curing is used to keep the concrete hydrated to maintain its strength.

Difference between concrete and cement

These two properties are commonly mistaken for one another. Cement is a binding material and is used to make concrete. Think how flour is used to make a cake, likewise cement is used to make concrete. Cement is made with calcium, aluminum, iron and silicon. These materials are crushed and grinded together then put into a kiln.

After this process, the cement is ready to be made into a concrete mix. Concrete is known for its life expectancy. It's a solid option because it's resistant to any scratches, stains, or nicks. Polished concrete creations are also known to be low maintenance. One of the most important things is to not use any harsh chemicals when wiping it down.

You should now be able to make some educated decisions on your flooring. When concrete is made and applied correctly, it’s a great flooring option. Custom Concrete Creations uses the best equipment for every project to ensure you receive the highest quality polished concrete flooring. If you want to turn your old floors into a beautiful long-lasting floor, contact us today!